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Apples Never Fall

Questions, Ending & Explanations

See below for an explanation of the ending and other questions about Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty. If you have other questions that aren't already covered here, feel free to drop a comment!

Where can I find a full plot summary for Apples Never Fall?

Right here! You can find a quick recap and a lengthier version of the summary over here.

Where can I find book club discussion questions forApples Never Fall?

Right here! Discussion questions are availble on this page (below the book review section).

What is the ending? How does Apples Never Fall End?

It turns out that Savannah is the sibling of Harry Haddad, a former star student who is now a famous tennis player. She came to their house as a child once when her brother was being picked up, but she everyone was mean to her, and she was determined to exact revenge.

In October, Savannah dropped the bombshell that Joy was the reason that Harry left their tennis school. It turns out that Joy suggested to Harry’s dad (Elias) that Harry leave because she didn’t want Stan to be traveling internationally all the time and leaving her along to raise the kids and run their business. (Joy tells them it was also so he could focus on coaching their kids, but later she admits to herself that it was more for herself and because she was angry at Stan for walking out on her all the time).

This revelation caused Stan and Joy to have to confront some the issues in their marriage. Just before Joy’s disappearance, they’d gotten into an argument. Joy had been angry about giving up her profession for Stan, and she’s tired of him walking out on her instead of dealing with the issues in their marriage. Stan had been angry about Joy “sabotaging” him and walks out of that argument as well. (But in that moment, Stan realizes he walks out because his father was violent towards his mother, and when he gets angry he worries that he’ll be just like his father. Instead, he tries to just walk away if he’s ever in a similar situation, which is why Stan forces himself to walk out.)

In the end, the police show up to arrest Stan, but then Joy Delaney walks through the door. She has been on a 21-day off-the-grid retreat with Savannah. Savannah had just so happened to call her after Stan walked out (she was staying with Dr. Henry Edgeworth — someone else she was getting revenge on — at the time which is why the police though Joy had chatted with him that day). Joy wanted to go away for a bit and then come back to work on their marriage. It turns out she had left a note on the fridge for Stan but it fell off, and her text to the kids ended up full of typos and autocorrects which is why it was full of gibberish.

The book ends with Savannah traveling to Adelaide visit her own mother and confront her about the way she treated her as a child (not letting her eat so she could be a skinny dancer). When her mother takes her sleeping pills, Savannah drags her into her old room, puts some food and water in there, leaves a note telling her mother to ration it carefully and then locks her in there. She then flies off. The book ends with Savannah returning at a later time, not knowing if her mother is still in there or if she got out or if she’s still alive.

What’s the meaning of the title?

“Apples Never Fall” is a reference to the idiom that apples never fall too far from the tree. It basically means that kids tend to be similar to their parents. In this case, it seems to have to do more with the fact that kids are very much the product of their parents.

This book deals with how the kids (and Savannah) are the product of their upbringing and how that’s shaped them and their lives.

Does Savannah’s mother die in the end? Did Savannah ever unlock the bedroom door?

I think it’s purposely left ambiguous, but I think there’s a reasonable chance that there’s a decent chance that her mother is probably dead. She certainly created a situation where her mother was likely to die unless she managed to find a way out of that situation.

Savannah does not go back to unlock the bedroom door and doesn’t return until much later, so unless her mother somehow managed to figure something out, then her mother is probably dead.

What is the meaning of the last line in the book where “The girl said, ‘My mother plays tennis.’”?

I think the implication is that Savannah is reinventing her image of herself — and in this case she is fantasizing that Joy is her real mother. Instead of dealing with and processing how she was mistreated by her mother, she’s simply choosing to invent a version of herself where that wasn’t her other.

Joy plays tennis so, it seems likely that in this reinvented version of herself, she imagines that Joy is her mother.

In the paragraphs leading up to the last line, when Savannah says that her mother is the opposite and starts thinking about all the wonderful things her mother did, she’s not thinking about her real mother at all. She’s imagining what her childhood would have been like if Joy had been her mother.

Why does Savannah use phases or expressions that are more appropriate for someone older than her age?

Savannah’s shtick is that she has her own alternate reality, and she creates that reality by drawing from sources around her like TV shows she’s seen or movies. She reuses these phrases or retells these stories verbatim at times, passing these words and stories off as her own.

Have more questions? Leave them in a comment below!

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