Author: Marisa de los Santos
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Source: William Morrow & Company via TLC Book Tours for blog tour
Description from Goodreads:
What would you do if an old friend needed you, but it meant turning your new life upside down? Pen, Will, and Cat met during the first week of their first year of college and struck up a remarkable friendship, one that sustained them and shaped them for years – until it ended abruptly, and they went their separate ways. Now, six years later, Pen is the single mother of a five-year-old girl, living with her older brother in Philadelphia and trying to make peace with the sudden death of her father. Even though she feels deserted by Will and Cat, she has never stopped wanting them back in her life, so when she receives an email from a desperate-sounding Cat asking her to meet her at their upcoming college reunion, Pen goes. What happens there sends past and present colliding and sends Pen and her friends on a journey across the world, a journey that will change everything.
First Sentence: "Pen would not use the word summoned when she told Jamie about the e-mail later that night."
Under a misapprehension that Falling Together would deal with the same characters as Marisa de los Santos' prior books (because I fail to read blurbs most of the time), I read the one I hadn't yet gotten to, Belong to Me, last week. Now, Falling Together actually has nothing to do with the prior two, but I'm glad for the mistake, because I love Marisa's writing and who can regret an error that results in more joyous reading? While Falling Together did not touch my heart the same way Love Walked In and Belong to Me did, it is still a marvelous, beautiful, thoughtful novel on the nature of love, friendship and family.
In Falling Together, the friends in question met and promptly became inseparable in college. They had that sort of instantaneous kinship, obvious kindred spirits. Stories of powerful, enduring friendship perhaps affect me more emotionally than all of those romances that make me swoon, because I can identify with those feelings. I've come across people like that, who were so obviously intended to be a part of my life, whether or not I believe in fate or god or preordination. Some people just seem to belong with you. Plus, friendship as a theme generally takes a back seat to romance, so it's always a refreshing read.
Cat, Will and Pen were like this. Trios are rough to maintain, because usually two of the three generally get along slightly better than the third. These three make it work...for a while anyway. After college, they live together in an apartment in Philly, but, eventually, Cat tires of their exclusive circle. She wants to marry and start a new life, and feels unable to do that with Will and Pen still in it. They are too protective of her, too judgmental of her suitors (the 'rump slap' bit was my favorite part!). Left alone, without the hub of their social group, Pen and Will eventually separate, all three agreeing not to communicate in any way anymore, preferring to keep their memories of one another pristine.
The catalyst for the journey of the novel comes with a mysterioug email from Cat, the first contact in six years, telling Pen she needs her and will hopefully see her at their college reunion. Unable to pass up the chance to see one of the people missing from her soul for all this time, Cat goes, and discovers that nothing was quite what she thought. Her journey leads to surprising places. There's romance that I found quite touching, and parts that broke my heart. There is even a charming child. I give Marisa de los Santos full credit for having written three books with children as main characters, and having made me like all of them. This one wasn't even a teen, but she still was pretty adorable.
This book took me a while to get through, though, because up until Pen goes to the reunion, I was rather bored. Pen does a lot of sitting around and feeling pathetic, which I can sympathize with but it still didn't interest me. There are also a lot of extended flashbacks, which messed with the tempo as well. I feel like this might have been stronger if it started in college and then jumped to the future where they're not together, rather than flashing back. The pacing was just off.
I also, personally, feel like the story might have benefited from first person narration, rather than third person limited. Pen would undoubtedly have a really powerful voice, and I'm sure I would have liked her, but I felt somewhat removed from her as it was, though perhaps that too is because of the pacing.
Marisa de los Santos has become one of my favorite authors. While this one might not shine quite so brightly, it's still powerful and beautiful, and one I expect I shall revisit sometime in the future.
Favorite Quote: "'Honestly, William, time?' his mother had snapped. 'Distance? Those things have nothing whatsoever to do with love. Who knows that better than you?'"