Publisher: William Morrow, October 2011
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Where I Got It: Amazon Vine
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Pen, Will and Cat meet during their first year of college and are immediately drawn to each other after “meeting cute/terrifying/hostile” (according to Cat, Pen and Will respectively). Forming a close-knit triad who finish each other’s sentences and know each other inside and out, the three are as close as friends can be. Until one day, they part ways abruptly and painfully.
Although Pen (short for Penelope) has moved on with her life—becoming a single mother to her beloved 5-year-old daughter Augusta—she’s always felt the lack of Will and Cat in her life, especially after the sudden death of her father, which has left her devastated and lost. So when, out of the blue, Pen receives a somewhat cryptic and desperate e-mail from Cat asking her to come to the upcoming college reunion, Pen realizes she’s been waiting for this “summons” ever since they parted. Little does she know that Will has received a similar e-mail. When the two arrive at the reunion, the mystery of what is going on with Cat deepens and becomes more complex—leading Pen and Will to reexamine their past, present and future as they try to help their friend and figure out how and if they can fit into each other’s lives again.
The second I saw that Marisa de los Santos had a new novel coming out (the official release date is October 4), I immediately began plotting how I could get my hands on it. (Lucky for me, I was able to score an ARC through Amazon Vine.) I fell in love with de los Santos’s effervescent writing and lovable characters in her first two books, Love Walked In and Belong To Me. Those books were utterly delightful, involving, touching and funny. The main character in those books, Cornelia Brown, felt like my long-lost best friend. I loved her immediately and instantly got caught up in the stories that surrounded her family and friends.
This new novel, de los Santo’s third, doesn’t involve Cornelia Brown, and I was a bit disappointed when I discovered that. (I was hoping to visit with her again!!!) Still, de los Santos wrote so charmingly in her first books that I fully expected to be drawn into this book just as easily. I’m so sorry to say that wasn’t the case. Although Falling Together isn’t a bad book by any means, it wasn’t as delightful and fun and involving as her first two books. In fact, it took me almost a week to read it, when I clearly remember gobbling up the previous two books in just a day or two.
When trying to figure out why I didn’t fall for this book, I realized that there were two main problems. First, Pen (the primary narrator) just didn’t have the sparkle, humor and pizazz that Cornelia did. Listening to her tell her story just wasn’t engrossing. Admittedly, we’re meeting Pen at a low point in her life. Reeling from her father’s death and involved in a rather bizarre relationship with Augusta’s father, Pen is a bit of a downer. Although I sympathized with her, I also got annoyed at her passivity and inability to recognize what seemed blindingly obvious to everyone around her.
Second, the “Cornelia” character of the book—the one you want to be girlfriends with—is Cat, who we barely get to know except via Pen’s memories and flashbacks. In fact, the entire book is really about Pen and Will’s quest to find Cat, who is built up into this almost larger than life person (despite her diminutive size). But hearing about such a character without really getting to know them is distancing. It’s like hearing your good friend rave about another friend but, never having met the person yourself, you don’t fall under their spell.
Still, as I said before, the book isn’t without its charms. The writing is sometimes so graceful and lovely that you want to write the passages down and make them into a poster. Yet, in the end, I found myself just liking the book—not loving it. Perhaps because of my delight in the first two books, I was destined to be disappointed with this one. However, I encourage you to give de los Santos a chance. She’s a gifted writer who has a lovely poetic way of observing things and she’s definitely worth checking out.