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About the book
  • Published: 2 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143770930
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $15.99

Catch Me When You Fall

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.’

  • Pub date: 2 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143770930
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $15.99

About the Author

Eileen Merriman

Eileen Merriman works full-time as a consultant haematologist at North Shore Hospital. Her writing has appeared in a number of national and international journals and anthologies, including Smokelong Quarterly, The Island Review, Literary Orphans, the Bath Short Story Award Anthology 2015, the Sunday Star-Times, F(r)iction, takahe, Headland and Flash Frontier. Her first novel was Pieces of You, with reviewers calling it 'compulsively readable' and 'compelling, challenging, and heartbreaking'. It was a 2018 Storylines Notable Book and, along with her second novel, it was shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Her other awards include runner-up in the 2018 Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award, third for three consecutive years in the 2014-2016 Sunday Star-Times Short Story Awards, second in the 2015 Bath Flash Fiction Award, commended in the 2015 Bath Short Story Competition, and first place in the 2015 Graeme Lay Short Story Competition.

Also by Eileen Merriman

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Praise for Catch Me When You Fall

“heartwrenching tale”

Diane McCarthy, Eastern Bay Life

“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

“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

“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

“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

Awards & Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

    Shortlisted • 2018 • NZ Awards for Children and Young Adults

  • Storylines Notable Book Award

    Awarded • 2019 • Notable Book

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