Sunday, July 29, 2018

DREAMS OF FALLING by Karen White (A Review)

About the Book

Karen White
Published on June 5, 2018 by Berkley Books
Hardcover, 416 pages
Women's Fiction, Contemporary, Mystery

My Review

    Quintessential "Karen White": Three childhood friends growing up together, weathering storms of all kinds side by side and yet keeping secrets from each other. Juvenile dreams going west and a wish granted at the tragic price of loss and grief. A young woman who, for the first time in her life, pays attention to her past and to the people who have been loving her all along despite her antics. A family heirloom (a 19th century rice plantation and its neoclassical mansion) hiding more secrets than its charred walls will ever be able to reveal even if they could talk...

     "Secrets can be used for subterfuge. But secrets kept out of love are different. In their own way, they keep us sane. They tell us that love isn't about doubt, but believing in spite of it." 

    Dreams Of Falling doesn't go off the beaten and successful path of Karen White's signature storytelling, a distinguished narrative blend that embraces all the core themes of unadulterated women's fiction (the complex nature of family and friendship bonds, an odd mixture of happiness and grief, all the wonderful and sometimes complicated, messy ways love shows up in our lives), a strong Southern flair, and a sensibility finely tuned to mystery plots. 

    White delivers a novel awash in forgiveness dealt out in spite of betrayal and brimming with secrets alternately covered and exposed by waves of memories and flashbacks: the story is, in fact, narrated by three different POVs and spans over a period of sixty years. For this reason, the narrative frame demands a constant shift of attention between the 1950s events, plots/subplots unfolding in the present time (2010), and a relatively recent past (2001). And although this writing technique can trigger anticipation, increase suspense, and offer a few edge-of-your-seat thrills, it may also deter readers who are not partial to dual timelines and multiple perspectives. My issue was rather with one of the female lead characters, (Larkin sounds too immature for her twenty-seven years), but I understand that the author has intentionally painted her in such a way, as the scarred product and recipient of everybody else's emotional traumas and misconceptions. My interest in the story was nonetheless unwaveringly fueled throughout its entire 416 pages. 
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

From the Cover...

    From the New York Times bestselling author of The Night the Lights Went Out comes an exquisite new novel about best friends, family ties and the love that can both strengthen and break those bonds.

    It's been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads--and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home. Ivy, Larkin's  
mother, is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family's ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.

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