Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

Falling Together
Marisa de los Santos
2011, 358 pgs

Summary from Amazon

It's been six years since Pen Calloway watched Cat and Will, her best friends from college, walk out of her life. Through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them. When, after years of silence, Cat—the bewitching, charismatic center of their group—urgently requests that the three meet at their college reunion, Pen can't refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey around the world, with Pen's five-year-old daughter and Cat's hostile husband in tow. And as Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now.

With her trademark wit, vivid prose, and gift for creating authentic, captivating characters, Marisa de los Santos returns with an emotionally resonant novel about our deepest human connections.

My Summary

Pen Calloway was blessed in college with the friendship of Cat and Will.  The three of them were inseparable (to the point of their peers thinking they were “together”).  When Cat got engaged post college she decided to cut communication with Pen and Will – they didn’t especially like her husband, Jason.  Pen and Will had a falling out shortly after that; they couldn’t get their rhythm right without Cat.

Fast forward six years, though the dead of her father, the birth of her daughter, and the struggles of single motherhood, Pen has never stopped missing Will and Cat.  Hoping against hope that one or both would make contact again.  Then it happens.  Cat sends an email saying she needs Pen and asking her to meet at their college reunion.   Will received the same message – his life has changed quite a bit over the past six years – so they both attend the reunion.  The reunion is a surprise and leads to a journey of discovery.

That’s the most I feel comfortable summarizing without giving away plot points.  I really enjoyed discovering new aspects of the friendship between Pen, Will and Cat.  Santos does a remarkable job slowly revealing the dynamics of the relationship between the three of them and how it adjusts when just two of them are in the picture. 

I LOVE the writing in Santo’s novels and Falling Together was no exception.  She finds the perfect balance of beautifully descriptive without crossing into excessively boring description. 

The trouble was that Tanya still hated Pen. She hid it, most of the time or rather camouflaged it as cold dislike or stony indifference or mocking disdain, but then, as sudden as a slap, it would hit Pen: a blazing, palpable, ever-fresh hatred that whipped around and raged inside Tanya’s eyes like twin electrical storms. (pg 40)

At five, Augusta was already losing her baby softness, was becoming pared down, almost sinewy, her back a delicate landscape of spine and shoulder blades that Pen could feel through her shirt. (pg 47)

Suddenly she became aware of Will across the table, perfectly unmoving, his silence hissing like a live wire, his hands flat on the table at either side of his plate, and hitting didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. (pg 117)

The forlorn note in her mother’s voice was like a fire blanket, putting out the anger that had begun to smolder inside Pen with one colossal whack. (pg 200)

I picked random pages and chose quotes I like from each.  I could have found 100. 

Another element of the novel that I love is that none of the character were one or two dimensional.  Even Cat’s husband Jason, who is frustrating 90% of the time.  He is given many facets and by the end I didn’t want to hang out with him, but he’s actually a good guy.

My Rating
Enjoyability (4 out of 5 stars)
Relationships (4 out of 5 stars)
Writing (5 out of 5 stars)

I don’t know that I will remember the details of the story in couple years, but I will remember that if I’m in the mood to reread something beautiful that Falling Together is a good choice.

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