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I loved both of Marisa de los Santos' previous books - Love Walked In and Belong To Me - so I was excited to see a new book from her, and Falling Together didn't disappoint.

The inside flap suggests that the book is about "a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will, with Pen's five-year-old daughter and Cat's hostile husband in tow, on a journey across the world." While they do take a journey, that doesn't happen until the last third of the book. What the book is really about is what de los Santos' books are always about: love, in the various forms that takes.

Pen, Cat, and Will became friends their first week of college, and formed an intense, tight bond that held for years. Then Cat wanted to get married and said that trying to continue their friendship in any way other than the way it had been would result in "total friendship apocalypse," so she left. Pen and Will stayed friends for a while, but then they, too, parted. The story picks up years later when Cat sends Pen and Will an email asking them to come to their college reunion because she needs them. They both answer her summons but instead of Cat, they find Cat's husband Jason. Cat has left him with no word, and he wants them to help him find her.

The story is structured as the present - the trip to the reunion, the choices about what to do next, the journey to find Cat - interspersed with incredibly well integrated flashbacks that tell us the rest of the story: how they met, Pen's history with her daughter's father, Will's alcoholic mother's recovery and Will's mastery over his temper, Pen's father's death. The story slowly shifts, from the beginning focus on Pen and Will and Cat, to the end of the story that is very much Pen and Will. When they find Cat, she is in the Philippines with the sister she never knew she had. Cat chooses to stay there: "She has moved on, Pen understood with bewildered shock. We are only part of who she used to be, not of who she is now."

As the story shifts, so does the point of view. I have a thing about pov, where I can't stand it when authors are randomly inconsistent or don't know what they're doing. Falling Together starts with sections of Pen's pov and Will's, but slowly shifts to entirely Pen's pov. It's done so well and so beautifully that I didn't realize de los Santos had done that until I was finished with the book and thinking about it. The lesson is this: you can do whatever you want if you're that good a writer. (Most of us are not that good.)

The author bio on the back flap describes de los Santos as "an award-winning poet." Personally, I'm not big on poetry, but it certainly teaches you how to use words, and de los Santos' use of language is fantastic. There was one sentence of dialogue that didn't ring true to me - the tone and vocabulary didn't fit with the rest of the book - but although I remember there was one, the rest of the book was so wonderful that I no longer remember what it was.

All said, I loved this book, although I wish I had read it more slowly (I was up against a library due date and it was unrenewable). If you liked her previous books, you will definitely like this one, although if you didn't like those, you probably won't like this one either.


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Ruth Sadelle Alderson


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