Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

May 20, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): What if saying hello to an old friend meant saying good-bye to life as you know it?

It’s been six years since Pen Calloway watched her best friends walk out of her life. And through the birth of her daughter, the death of her father, and the vicissitudes of single motherhood, she has never stopped missing them.

Pen, Cat, and Will met on their first day of college and formed what seemed like a lifelong bond, only to break apart amid the realities of adulthood. When, after six years of silence, Cat—the bewitching center of their group—emails Pen and Will asking to meet at their college reunion, they can’t refuse. But instead of a happy reconciliation, what awaits is a collision of past and present that sends Pen and Will on a journey across the world.

With her trademark wit, vivid prose, and gift for creating captivating characters, Marisa de los Santos returns with an emotionally resonant novel about our deepest human connections. As Pen and Will struggle to uncover the truth about Cat, they find more than they bargained for: startling truths about who they were before and who they are now. They must confront the reasons their friendship fell apart and discover how – and if – it can ever fall back together.

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • I love friendship novels, so the parts of this book that dealt specifically with Will, Cat, and Pen as a college trio worked best for me. Those scenes reminded me a lot of my own college days, and who doesn’t want to reminisce like that?
  • I thought Will and Pen’s dialogue — when talking to each other — was done very well. They truly did sound like old friends, occasionally sniping at each other, making dumb jokes that the other person doesn’t even acknowledge, undercutting each other in front of Jason, etc. That’s how I talk with my friends, so this aspect of the book felt very real to me.
  • I thought it was great that Cat didn’t fall right back into friendship mode once Will and Pen caught up with her. Some people really do move on with their lives, so it was totally believable that the character would make that choice. I’m glad the author didn’t go for the Hollywood ending and have Cat and Jason reconcile while Will and Pen hooked up, turning their old trio into a quartet.


  • This book dragged in many places — particularly when the group was in the Philippines and the author felt she had to describe every single thing they saw or ate while over there. I’m not sure if the author is from the Philippines and was paying homage to her homeland or if she was trying to justify a trip there as a business expense or what, but it was just BORING.
  • I hated the way the author characterized Jason as some sort of man-child and had Pen pass judgment on him by saying he was using his “sandbox voice” or whatever. God, that was just really, really annoying for some reason. It’s not that I liked Jason or felt bad for him; it’s just that Pen and Will tried to come off as so SUPERIOR to the guy when they really weren’t much better than he was.
  • The “reveal” that Will had actually been at Pen’s father’s funeral without letting her know seemed unnecessary. What was the point of that? It just served to drag the ending out for 30 more pages.
  • Does the author really think people don’t know that the title of the Titanic theme is “My Heart Will Go On”??? I’m not a Celine Dion fan and I absolutely HATE that song, but I was puzzled that she claimed “no one” knows the title. WTF???
  • Do colleges have six-year reunions? I thought that was a bit odd.
  • None of the characters was particularly likable. We got most of the story from Pen’s point of view, and while she was okay, she was so damn whiny at times that I began to actively hope that things wouldn’t work out for her.
  • The meeting with Cat was such an anticlimax that I almost tossed the book aside for good. The WHOLE novel up to that point had been all about her, about how Will and Pen loved her and needed her, about how Jason wanted her back, about what great times all of them had together. But then when she showed up, it was just… “Oh, I’m staying here. Thanks for checking in. Buh-bye.” I mean, I liked that she had moved on and everything; but I just don’t get the author’s decision to have that whole buildup end with such a weak thud.


Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos turned out to be less about friendship than about loss and love. The book went in a completely different direction than I had hoped, and for this and the reasons listed above, I just couldn’t get into it very much. The writing was good and I might be open to trying something else from this author, but this novel disappointed me. I give it 3 stars out of 5.

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