You might’ve noticed I’ve been on a bit of a running-related reading kick lately. I’m the kind of person who falls into hobbies like rabbit holes, and now that I’m gearing up for my second half-marathon (first in person, if life cooperates), I feel drawn to books with running in them.
The Fastest Way to Fall isn’t really about running, at least not primarily. The basic setup is this: Britta is a journalist who pitches a piece about her experience using the FitMe app to get healthier. Wes is the CEO of FitMe and he’s feeling a bit disconnected from his passion for work, so he decides to take on a couple of clients again.
Naturally, Wes winds up coaching for none other than the journalist reviewing the app — not that he knows it. As the two exchange jokes in app, then via text, and finally in person, boundaries and ethical lines get blurry and sparks fly.
Though I’m not always the biggest fan of a forbidden romance underpinned by concealed identites like this one, I very much enjoyed this audiobook.
What I Liked
In the pages (er, audio file?) of this book, Wiliams tackles a lot of difficult topics and handles them well — body image, crash dieting, the balance between loving your body while wanting to get stronger, alcololism, and more. She opens the book with a helpful content warning that notes the ways in which she will address this topics, which was helpful to frame the reading experience for me.
Britta is fat, and while she struggles with body image like anyone else, she’s mostly just living her life and loving her strength in the curvy body she’s in. I really liked this representation and how she works to hit fitness goals that are (mostly) not related to weight loss. It felt like a realistic portrayal of what it’s like to love fitness in a bigger body.
The love story starts off with an epistolary element while the two share messages in the FitMe app, and I’m a sucker for this way of love interests getting to know one another. It’s also a bit friends-to-lovers and definitely a slow burn, since they kid themselves into thinking they can just be friends due to the ethical conundrum of their feelings for one another.
Britta starts training for a 10K towards the middle of the book! I love hearing about people’s training experiences, and a 10K was my first “big” running goal, so I loved seeing this on the page. The way Williams describes training and the feeling of getting stronger as a runner was super relatable and reminded me of my own early days learning to run.
The relationship between Britta and her sometimes-rival, Claire, was refreshing. The two are competing for a staff writer jobas they collaborate on the Body FTW project (Claire is reviewing a rival app, Hotter You), but they still support one another and try to break out of the “women must be workplace rivals” stereotype.
I also liked that Britta and Claire are women of color, yet this isn’t treated as a defining characteristic or central conflict in the book. The fact that they’re of color doesn’t come up often, and it’s refreshing to see this treated as just one part of their identity instead of something that has to be a huge conflict in the book. I could see where some readers might be frustrated by this identity being almost overlooked or a side note, but that was not my personal experience with this book.
What I Didn’t Like
Ahh yes, the “ambitious woman is basically a monster” trope. Wes’ ex and head of rival fitness app Hotter You is a bit of a stereotypical female executive villain, and I did not like that aspect of the book. She could’ve been a compelling character but unfortunately we didn’t see much besides her ambitious, cruel side in the pages of this book.
I also didn’t love that part of Britta achieving her dream of skydiving required her to lose weight, since she mentions that she used to be over the weight limit. While this is a real thing and thin privilege exists, it felt a bit weird to toss that in at the end of the book when so much of the rest of the story was about Britta learning to love her body for what it can do, not the number on the scale.
In all, this was a great read! The audio performance was excellent, as well, even if I’ll never quite love the way most male narrators do female voices.
I recommend The Fastest Way to Fall to fans of forbidden romance, runners, people who’ve struggled with body image (who are ready to read about it), and folks who love some quality banter between love interests.
(Full disclosure: This post uses Bookshop.org affiliate links)
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