Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Book Review: Falling Together

By Gail Allison

With two books already under her belt ("Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me"), Marisa De Los Santos now offers a third: "Falling Together." I had never read anything by this author, so I wasn’t sure what style of writing to expect. All I can say is, I’ll be checking out her other two books as soon as my “to be read” pile allows.

In "Falling Together," we first meet Pen: a somewhat neurotic single mother who is currently living with her brother and her daughter, unsure of life in general, and struggling to maintain a brave face for yet another day. She’s still reeling from the death of her father, and just keeping it together on a daily basis appears to be an effort for her. When the story begins, she’s sitting in the back of a bookstore, waiting for the author/dominatrix whom she’s chauffeuring for the evening to finish up her presentation. All of a sudden Pen’s phone vibrates, and she panics, positive that it’s some terrible news about her daughter Augusta. It’s not. It’s an email from her old friend Cat saying that she needs Pen and wants to see her at their upcoming ten year reunion. This message obviously jolts Pen to her core, and she decides to pack up and head to the reunion to see what’s going on. Cat has sent the same email to their friend Will, with similar results.

The book jumps back and forth between present and past seamlessly. In the past, we learn more and more about Pen, Cat, and Will: three friends who forge a seemingly unbreakable friendship in college. Their bond is so strong that it seems absolutely ironclad to those around them, but something happens within the group that blows them apart. Cat is the first to leave, and Pen and Will attempt to hold together the friendship, but ultimately can’t do it with just the two of them.

Fast-forward to the present, and Pen, Cat and Will all have their own lives. We learn that Will is a successful children’s book author, Pen is...well...hanging on, and Cat remains a mystery. When Will and Pen meet up at the reunion after six years of no contact whatsoever, they realize that the message was sent not by Cat, but by Cat’s husband in an attempt to figure out where his wife has gone. Pen and Will both remember Cat as a vibrant, explosive force of nature, who would have had a superlative future, and now they need to come together to uncover the truth of Cat’s circumstances.

"Falling Together" is a beautifully written book. I was trying to describe it to a friend and the only thing I could come up with was “it’s like reading a painting”. The descriptors are wonderful, with no superfluous language used just to fill up page space. You’re right there with Pen and Will. You feel Pen’s pain as she relives her father’s death. You can easily see both sides of the coin when Will punches out the dumb jock and Pen and Cat pull him off. Ms. De Los Santos weaves a tale of real people who have realistic strengths and flaws. She tells the tale of why they make the choices they do, and she makes it engaging and believable, while setting it amidst stunning backdrops.

If you’re looking for fluffy chick-lit, give this one a miss for now, but if you’re ready to dive into a Technicolor version of the real world, complete with real people and lessons learned, you won’t regret picking up "Falling Together."

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