Marisa de los Santos has established herself as a deft chronicler of human emotion. With her first two successful novels, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, she has explored the landscape of a variety of relationships: friendly, romantic, neighborly, maternal. And in her latest novel, de los Santos traverses all of that relational terrain at once.
Pen, Cat and Will were college best friends almost from the moment they met, when Pen discovered Cat seizing in the bathroom between classes, and then called into the hallway for help. Their friendship was so tight that they excluded others from their circle—but it was a closeness that couldn’t last forever. When it was time for Cat to pursue a romantic relationship, and therefore an identity separate from her two best friends, the group’s friendship fell apart.
Pen is still feeling that pain six years later, when she receives a letter from Cat asking that they meet up at an impending college reunion. Pen’s life has changed radically since she last saw her two best friends. She’s given birth to a child out of wedlock, regularly faces her complicated relationship with her daughter’s father and is still reeling from the sudden death of her own father, whom Cat and Will adored. She still thinks of her former friends often, and wonders what they would make of who she’s become.
And so Pen sets off toward that reunion, prepared to meet Cat but surprised instead to see Will, who received a similar letter. As the pair search for Cat, they revisit their lost friendship and their complicated feelings for one another.
Falling Together explores the ways our familial relationships and friendships affect who we are and who we’re becoming. Though the ride through Pen’s relational topography is sometimes bumpy—flashbacks aren’t always clearly differentiated from Pen’s present day—the appeal of de los Santos’ books remains the intimacy with which the reader gets to know each character.
BookPage editor Trisha Ping interviews Marisa de los Santos about Falling Together: