June 1, 2018
I’ve found your favorite summer read. Once you finish it, I declare you’ll want to read it again and then tell all your girlfriends.The New York Times bestselling author Karen White, known for her delicious low-country historical fiction, releases Dreams of Falling in hardcover on June 5th. This is my first Karen White read and with a promise as Southern as matching lipstick to nail polish, it will not be my last. I couldn’t leave Dreams of Falling on my nightstand as much as you can’t leave grandma’s house without eating. This “Grit Lit” of Southern Women’s Fiction serves up generations of strong women, their fierce loyalty to one other and the secrets and sacrifice that could tear them apart.
“A promise made since childhood, that the three of us will always be friends. That no matter what, we will stick together and be there for one another.”
Dreams of Falling spans several decades and knits together the lives of women bound together since childhood. White’s novel effortlessly moves between 1950 and modern day 2010 with brilliant multi-generational storytelling. Set in Georgetown, South Carolina, nestled halfway between Charleston and Pawleys Island, the novel is narrated by women in three different generations. Ivy is missing and Larkin, her daughter, is called home from New York to help search for her and Ceecee, who is the childhood friend of Ivy’s mother, Margaret. The voices are so distinct you will not have any difficulty following the thread. The story parallels two sets of secrets. Larkin’s childhood secret is uncovered while she is unraveling her mother Ivy’s mystery. The female storytellers move the story at such a swift pace that you’ll find yourself re-reading paragraphs to unravel the imagery.
“The introductory notes to an old song distracted me for a moment causing me to glance up from my computer and look around with an oddly satisfying appreciation.”
The main character, Larkin, possesses two unusual talents which add to the intrigue of the novel. She has a quirky ability to recognize the title and artist of every song she hears. Larkin seems unchallenged by the decade or genre. The song references serve the reader as subtle reminders of the time period. Larkin’s second intrigue and a nod to the book’s title, Dreams of Falling, is dream analysis. Throughout the book, Larkin dismisses the accuracy of her dream dissection but those closest to her feel she offers sage advice. As with most childhood idiosyncrasies, her parlor tricks stem from an escape of unanswered questions.
“The ancient oak tree, with its sweeping drapes of moss, waited at the end of the lawn near the river, its arms seemingly outstretched in welcome.”
The novel is a testament of the strength of women, mothers and the ties they form with one another, but also demonstrates the true reflection of a woman’s heart. A softer, childlike wonder of dreams and wishes painted on ribbons and left for safe-keeping in an ancient oak, their own Tree of Dreams. Waves of secrets and sacrifice, relentless over time, ultimately push a storm into the quiet harbor of Georgetown. Emotional hurricanes and their consequences leave destruction in their wake but strong women repair relationships as they rebuild their lives.
“Sometimes we think we’ve changed when really all we’ve done is grow into the person we were always meant to be.”
White’s novel is a true Southern story celebrating the Deep South and the undeniable bond of mother-daughter relationships. But what makes Dreams of Falling captivating are the illustrations of women who aren’t our mothers but raise us anyway. Southern families are known for having honorary aunts and grandmothers who aren’t related by bloodlines yet have more bond than those who share hair and eye color. Karen White writes believable character flaws which endear you to each woman’s personality and traits. It’s a fluid journey through generations, rapidly uncovering secrets yet reinforcing the bonds of promises made in childhood but honored and kept in old age.
Karen White’s Dreams of Falling is an undeniable fun, fast summer read. It will have you turning pages by the pool or on the beach. Wear sunscreen, a wide brim hat and don’t forget to match your beach bag with your sandals.
Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty novels, including the Tradd Street series, The Night the Lights Went Out, Flight Patterns, The Sound of Glass, A Long Time Gone, and The Time Between. Dreams of Falling is one of PureWow’s Best Beach Reads of Summer, 2018. Karen White’s novel is in partnership with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Link to original review published by Southern Lit Alliance: