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Will Alex win the battle for life?

A moving novel about learning to find happiness in the face of uncertainty and discovering a love that transcends the boundary between life and death.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange.

Some people believe in love at first sight, and some don’t.
I believe in love in four days.
I believe in falling.
Both teenagers have big dreams, but also big obstacles to overcome.

‘Promise me you won’t try to die,’ I said. ‘Ever.’
‘Promise me you won’t either,’ he countered.
‘It’s not really something I can control.’


My best pick for 2018 for young adults, the standout for me was Catch Me When You Fall . . . it's kind of heart-wrenching and really real and quirky and a great teen read for girls and boys.

James Russell, Radio NZ

This book, like Merriman's first, Pieces of You, is interested in life and death struggles, and the way that these struggles interact with the more everyday agonies and ecstasies of coming -of-age. . . Alex is engaging and likeable, a recognisable teen . . . The story is well-paced and absorbing . . . Her love story with Jamie is endearing . . . the story is effective in its depiction of the desperation inspired by love and fear of loss.

Angelina Sbroma, NZ Books

The beauty of it is that Merriman just seems to be able to cut straight to the intensity of a relationship, or a first relationship - the anguish, drama, the second guessing and the doubt, and the pure electricity of those first physical encounters . . . the characters are genuine and believable and wonderful dialogue and I must admit a few tears squeezed from my eyes while I was reading. It really is a great book . . . very similar to that John Green novel, The Fault in our Stars, very similar in subject matter and I would actually put it right up there. It is a fantastic book.

James Russell, Radio NZ

I learnt more about leukemia from this novel than I could have from a medical journal. This is the power of fiction. Personalising this condition has for the want of better words given leukemia life. Very well written and structured and will appeal to all those that like Fault in the Stars by John Green and similar novels. Give yourself plenty of space when reading this novel, it is powerful.


This very readable novel is set in Christchurch post-earthquake which makes it instantly appealing to me. Merriman has created dynamic, believable characters who are faced with the harsh realities of medical issues largely outside their control. The joy and tenderness between Alex and Jamie is a real joy. There are some beautiful and horrific scenes where the full weight of the thinness of the space between life and death are explored. A book to be emotionally involved with this summer.


WHAT DID I LIKE 1. how darn cute this novel was, it really swept you up 2. how fast paced it was, it made it so much easier to read 3. how real it felt, it felt like this was really happening due to the fact that alot of terminology was included and it made you feel like you were there in the hospital with them 4. How decently the Bi polar disorder & the depression were dealt with. WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE 1. How instalovey it was. personally i dont like insta love, but I don’t hate it so, yeah. All in all this was a cute book that I’m really glad I read.

weavinglife.wordpress blog

When it comes to the medical details, the story pays impressive attention . . . the story doesn't only focus on Alex and her physical sickness but also on Jamie and his far subtler mental illness. His ever-creeping mania and attitude toward constant medication are well written and cleverly expressed.

Madeleine Fountain, NZ Doctor

heartwrenching tale

Diane McCarthy, Eastern Bay Life

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 2, 2018


    320 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    January 2, 2018

    Penguin eBooks

    320 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ


Chapter 1:
Schrodinger's Cat


If you take photographs through a prism, you can turn people into ghosts. I’d taught Jamie that  this year, my eighteenth year of life, and possibly my  last.  Whenever a bad memory crept into my  brain, I held a prism up to it, and it would distort and soften. That way I could cope with  it a  bit better.

There were other memories, though, of which I wanted to remember every last detail. They gave me something to hold onto. Because one day soon, I knew, I might not wake up.

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Book Clubs
Short Story Club - 22 February

Read the story being discussed on Jesse Mulligan’s show on Radio New Zealand on 22 February 2018.

Awards and Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
    NZ Awards for Children and Young Adults
  • Storylines Notable Book Award
    Notable Book

Also by Eileen Merriman