Heartbreak and hilarity come together in this story of a far-flung family reunited for one weekend by their father’s death, by the author of the highly acclaimed The Fates Will Find Their Way.
Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly-failed wife, learns that her estranged father killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she reluctantly gives in to her older siblings’ request that she join them–and her many half-siblings, and most of her father’s five former wives–in Atlanta, their birthplace, for a final farewell.
Written with huge heart and bracing wit, REUNION takes place over the following four days, as family secrets are revealed, personal deceits are uncovered, and Kate–an inveterate liar looking for a way to come clean–slowly begins to acknowledge the overwhelming similarities between herself and the man she never thought she’d claim as an influence, much less a father. Hannah Pittard’s “engaging and vigorous”* prose masterfully illuminates the problems that can divide modern families-and the ties that prove impossible to break. (*Chicago Tribune) (Goodreads)
I picked up this book because of the cover, thinking this is a heartwarming, beautiful story where estranged family members get together for a “reunion” and dove right into the book without knowing anything about the plot. I love good family dramas so I had high hopes for this book.
I did find the premise quite promising; an unexpected “reunion” brought by an expected death of a father sounds so intriguing, and I was immediately reeled in the story.
However, this book overall fell flat for me and I didn’t get invested as much as I thought.
I attribute my disappointment with this book to my lack of empathy toward Kate, the protagonist and the narrator of the book. I don’t mind books with flawed protagonists, if anything, I tend to like a book a lot better if the protagonist’s life is fraught with problems, I see drama and growth in the process and that’s one of the things that I like the most.
Nonetheless, Kate’s narration especially her rambling monologues and thoughts didn’t generate much emotion out of me. It’s not because she’s committed an adultery and displays no remorse about it, nor was it because I’m against it, but I think it has more to her character and to the fact she tends to simply run away from things that go wrong rather than head them face-on. I just couldn’t relate to that tendency of hers and found myself feeling a bit detached both from Kate and the story.
The secondary characters and side plots involving her siblings and her half-siblings are all well-crafted, it was interesting to find the two elder siblings are polar opposites to Kate, serving well to create the rift that adds to the tension and intrigue. There are some stories and scenes that drew me in and regained my interest, yet overall, it didn’t suffice to leave much of an impact on me. Long story short, I had nothing but a vague idea whether I liked this book or not.
I wouldn’t say I didn’t like this book, it is certainly a well-written book. Emotional (to some, but not to me) and the writing is solid and strong. The main plot on reconciliation from the past and starting over was woven with a tactful hand. I think this book works for readers who are into books featuring dysfunctional families, but sadly, it didn’t go over very well with me and I think I’ll settle for 3 stars.
My Rating: ★★★