Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Dreams of Falling by Karen White

I've had a discussion with a number of people in the past few weeks about how I don't seem to have the time I used to for reading, and how it bothers me a lot.  They've all said the same thing: I just have more stuff going on day to day, and it leaves less time for reading. 

BUT I DON'T WANT IT TO. Dang it. I've eagerly awaited Karen White's latest novel, and was excited to check it out at the library last week before I took a few days off for a family visit and party. I was happy thinking I could read this book in just a few days, in the quiet of my home. 

Nope. That didn't happen. Instead, I was so busy with family, the only time I had to read was when I went to bed at night, and that lasted just a few minutes before my eyes were drifting shut.  It took me much longer to read Dreams of Falling that I expected or wanted to take. I finally finished it today when I got home from work. Phew. 

You probably know I'm a big fan of Karen White, in particular her paranormal series that started with The House on Tradd Street. But, I also love her stand-alone novels.  They usually mix a contemporary issue rooted in a story that is either one or two generations behind. Add in a Southern setting, and I'm all in for an enjoyable read. I've never been disappointed, and that includes her latest, set in South Carolina. 

Larkin Lanier is from Georgetown, SC. She's been living in New York City for the past nine years, fleeing after high school graduation; angry at her parents, her best friends, and pretty much everyone. Beautiful and loved by many, Larkin was raised to believe she could be anything, do anything she wanted-she was special, and a star. A humiliating incident with her high school crush ruined her friendship with her best friends, twins Mabry and Bennett. Now she's been called back, as her mother Ivy has gone missing, and everyone is frantic to find her. 

Once back in Georgetown, Ivy is found, badly injured and unconscious at the ruins of her family's once stately plantation, Carrowmore. In the hospital, in a coma, we listen to Ivy's thoughts, as she struggles to find peace and forgiveness before she can leave her family behind. We also have Larkin's point of view, as she tries to figure out why her mother was at Carrowmore, and what she wanted to tell Larkin about her past. Ceecee and Bitty, two old friends of Larkin's grandmother Margaret, have practically raised Larkin, and before her, her mother Ivy. The fire at Carrowmore, fifty years before, killed her grandmother, and no one knows what happened. All of these things keep Ivy tied to her comatose body, and she can't leave until not only she finds peace, but Larkin figures out all of the secrets that Bitty and Ceecee have been holding since 1951. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I wish I could have read it much faster. It's the kind of story I like to sink into, and devote large chunks of time to reading it. I couldn't wait to get back to it everyday. I thought the use of Ivy's perspective, given that she was in a coma and dying, was pretty interesting, and helped me, the reader, understand her a little better. The dynamics between Larkin and Bennett, her childhood friend turned hottie, and her strained relationship with her father helped balance the big chunk of time devoted to the back story regarding Ceecee and Bitty; their relationship with Margaret in 1951, and how they fit into both Ivy and Larkin's lives. It's definitely an interesting family dynamic-one that is not made of blood, but friendship and promises written on ribbons and tucked into a tree. 

Fans of Karen White won't be disappointed. I certainly wasn't, and darn it all, now I have to wait another year for her next novel. 

Rating:  4/6 for an intriguing family tale that spans decades. Larkin learns that never asking questions can leave you with a hollow space that should be filled with family history, and a sense of knowing where you're from and who came before you. Larkin is a bit prickly, but I warmed up to her, and you will, too. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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