Review of “Falling Together” by Marisa de los Santos

This book is built upon a theme I generally eschew for being too predictable: friends getting together at a school reunion after not having seen each other for (in this case) six years, and then evincing fairly foreseeable reactions to one another. [On the other hand, I love the movie “Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion,” but (a) it’s a satire; and (b) who can resist the combination of Mira Sorvino, Lisa Kudrow and Janeane Garofalo?] Marisa de los Santos is also someone it is hard to resist: she is a writer who excels in chronicling changes over the course of relationships. Nevertheless, even while I love her writing, I didn’t love this book as much as her previous two.

Pen (Penelope), Cat (Catalina) and Will (William) had met the first week of their first year at college, and became immediate soul mates. But after years of constant and close companionship, something happened to cause them not to see or contact each other since. Suddenly, Pen gets an email from Cat asking to meet her at their ten-year reunion, saying she needs her. Pen can’t resist going; she has never stopped caring for her friends, and her life has been at loose ends ever since they parted.

Pen is now a single mom, living with her daughter Augusta at her older brother Jamie’s house. Jamie agrees to watch Augusta, and Pen goes off to the reunion meet her fate, for she knows that’s what it will be.

Discussion: I’m not so sure if making enigmatic much of what happened among the three friends was a useful plot device for de los Santos; I didn’t see any of the withheld information as significant enough to merit the mystery treatment. Rather, it seemed to me like a recipe for disappointment, because she was setting us up as if for something big that turned out to be rather mundane.

On the positive side, de los Santos’s writing is always a treat. The dialogue is clever and snappy (although sometimes so much so that the reader may be forgiven for suspecting that Pen, Cat, and Will traveled around with homunculi scriptwriters hidden in their pockets). The descriptive prose as well is vibrant and evocative, like this passage revealing Pen’s reaction to Augusta’s shimmery go-go girl outfit when Pen picks her up from a weekend with Augusta’s father:

“Pen could imagine her before-kids self being utterly disapproving of this, the little girl in makeup and grown-up clothes thing, the pre-pre-pre-tween fascination with fabulousness. But seeing it in action, she found it didn’t bother her. Little girls were magpies and butterflies, gaga for everything shiny, in sheer, giggly, joyful love with transformation. Pen looked at Augusta, so at home in her body, so convinced of her own gorgeousness. Keep it up, honey, she thought. Hang on to it with both hands.

Evaluation: As you may perhaps agree after reading that passage quoted above, it’s hard not to love Marisa de los Santos, even in her less stellar efforts.

Rating: 3.5/5

Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011


About rhapsodyinbooks

We're into reading, politics, and intellectual exchanges.
This entry was posted in Book Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Review of “Falling Together” by Marisa de los Santos

  1. I like how you and Sandy have buddy reviews! I can tell you enjoy this author. I’ll have to add her to my tbr list.

  2. epkwrsmith says:

    I love it when you and Sandy buddy up on the reading and reviews!…I’m still trying to decide on this one. I just don’t tolerate mushy stuff very well 😦 I think I’m jaded at this point in my life 😉

  3. JoAnn says:

    I’m not dying to read this, but my 21-year-old daughter loved both of her books. This could be a Christmas present…

  4. Kay says:

    Do you think those of us who loved the first two books have our expectations set too high? I loved, loved, loved BELONG TO ME so much. Still excited to read this one. I agree that the writing by this author is stellar.

  5. Meg says:

    Marisa de los Santos was easily my favorite author back in my bookseller days — I was constantly recommending Love Walked In and Belong To Me to customers! I was super excited to see she has a new book out and am still looking forward to reading this one, though I have a feeling my quibbles will be the same as yours. “Mysteries” that aren’t really mysteries — or any big deal at all — are a pet peeve of mine!

  6. Ugh… too bad, it looked as though it had potential…. I started to think it may be like Summerhouse by Jude Deveroux (Which I I LOVED!) but no… I guess it is nothing like that.

  7. softdrink says:

    While you didn’t use a dessert analogy, do you relaize you still used the words “recipe” and “treat” in your post?

    Also. You and Sandy need to move to California…I think the three of us would make a hell of a book club.

  8. sandynawrot says:

    I’m having small fits of giggling imagining the hell the three of us could raise in a book club. (Speaking of which, we had alot of fun chatting with Gabe Rotter last night at our wine, I mean book club.) But see you are rubbing off on me because now I’ve started talking food in my reviews. For anyone else out there coming by, this is totally a worthwhile read. It just isn’t her first two.

  9. It seems that many people are disappointed in this book. 😦 I still want to read it because I love de los Santos’ writing.

  10. zibilee says:

    I have heard that a lot of people thought this book was slightly less wonderful than her other two, which means that I will probably not get to it soon, though I am told that the other two are not to be missed. I am sorry to hear that this one was not a favorite for you, but your reasoning seems very clear and introspective. Thanks for sharing this. Now I am off to see what Sandy has to say!

  11. Julie P. says:

    Great review. I felt much the same way you did, but that’s not why I said it was great.

  12. Jenny says:

    I am a little bit disappointed in this book so far, but I think only because I’ve been waiting for it for so long. If she writes her fourth book quicklyish, I expect my expectations won’t be so ridiculously high.

  13. Caribousmom says:

    Great review – looks like I liked this one a bit better than you did, but then, I am such a sucker for beautiful writing…and de los Santos is such a terrific writer!

  14. Jenners says:

    I’m totally with you on this one. The writing is lovely but the story wasn’t so compelling. Still, I’m not giving up on her yet.

  15. Margot says:

    Oh man, I just bought this at Costco. My daughter loved the first two books and I thought it would make a great gift. Now I need to rethink it.

  16. I’m lowering my expectations of this one so I won’t be disappointed. I’ve enjoyed her past books.

  17. I love this author but I’m glad that I will be going into it without high expectations..thanks for the heads up!

  18. Ti says:

    I love her writing as well and I love her! She is so friendly on FB and very supportive of bloggers. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this one. I’m sure I will read it at some point, though.

  19. stacybuckeye says:

    I’ll probably read it someday because her writing is just so wonderful. Reunion stories can be a little trite and this looks like it may suffer from that.

  20. Marg says:

    I loved this authors first two books and so it will be hard to temper my expectations when I finally get this book in my hands.

  21. I have a copy of this book. I will be prepared for it to be okay, but not her best. Boo!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.