Denise Williams follows up her spectacular debut, How to Fail at Flirting, with the even better The Fastest Way to Fall, a soul-stirring novel that delves deep into the psyche of a woman struggling with body image and sense of self.
Britta Colby is an editorial assistant at the lifestyle magazine Best Life, and a curvy Black woman who refuses to allow being fat to define her. And yet, rejection by a crush due to her size causes her to doubt herself. She turns that disappointment into a step toward her goal of becoming a staff writer, and teams up with a coworker to write dueling blog posts about their experiences with two competing fitness apps. Britta signs up for FitMe, a hugely popular and body-positive app, with the goal of looking and feeling good naked.
Through its clever algorithm, FitMe matches each client with a professional coach, but there’s one cardinal rule: the client and coach can’t interact outside the confines of the text-based app. However, when Britta’s emotionally charged crash dieting and over-exercising cause her to put out a frantic call for help, her coach, Christopher “Wes” Lawson, breaks confidentiality to rush her to the hospital. Unbeknownst to Britta, Wes is actually the CEO of FitMe. He’s been feeling restless and inadequate despite the app’s success, and decided to start individual coaching again to rediscover the passion that led him to create FitMe in the first place.
Britta and Wes’ transition from talking in the app to in-person coaching and hanging out in the evenings feels like a natural progression of their professional relationship, even given the confidentiality rule. From the beginning, Britta has to continually remind herself that Wes is her coach, since talking to him feels just like chatting with a friend. And Wes has to continually tell himself to think of Britta as his client and not act on his strong attraction to her. Their relationship continues to evolve, and Williams authentically portrays their increasing mutual trust and emotional connection. However, they are still keeping secrets from each other: Britta doesn’t know Wes is a CEO, and Wes doesn’t know Britta is a journalist reviewing his app.
The Fastest Way to Fall is not a story about weight loss, but about learning to love who you are and about falling in love with someone who helps you feel strong. Britta’s triumph over her former insecurities concerning her body, her goals and her job are transcendent moments thanks to Williams’ sensitive and masterful storytelling.