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Falling to Earth Paperback – March 5, 2013
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"Inexorably, tragedy spawns tragedy in Falling to Earth. It's the poise with which Southwood approaches it that makes it so heartbreaking." (The Chicago Reader)
"Southwood's prose is vibrant and clear, and Falling to Earth's thrilling opening immediately draws in the reader with its brutal depiction of the power of nature." (BookPage)
"Southwood grounds abstract notions of faith, community, luck, and heritage in the conflicted thoughts of her distinct and finely realized characters." (Publishers Weekly)
"Her vivid descriptions of the Tri-State Tornado and the carnage left in its wake are so gripping that they will leave readers breathless...Readers looking for an emotionally true work of historical fiction will enjoy the complexity of the characters and their relationships." (BookPage)
More About the Author
Kate has published reviews, articles, and essays in The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Huffington Post, among others. She has also written in Norwegian for the online news service ABCnyheter.no.
Born and raised in Chicago, she now lives in Oslo, Norway with her husband and their two daughters. Falling to Earth is her first novel.
Top Customer Reviews
Paul Graves, owner of Graves Lumber, hears wailing and screaming as he hurries home after the tornado. Bodies lie everywhere, automobiles are overturned, and a woman is "frozen, screaming under a tree at a child's body caught high in its branches." Paul's children, he realizes, have escaped the fate of those killed in the collapse of the elementary school; his children were home with the chicken pox. The rest of the family - Paul's wife Mae and his mother Lavinia - have also escaped death, having had time to reach the basement shelter that Paul built. Soon the Graves' front porch is being used as a makeshift morgue, with as over a dozen bodies brought there, many of them as-yet-unidentified children.
The Graves family is unique, the only ones in the community who have escaped the tornado unscathed.Read more ›
And therein lies the strength of Southwood's brilliant debut novel, taking us where we don't expect to go, and accepting the reasonableness of her proposition: that even the best of us can succumb to envy, pettiness, and the propagation of evil; and, worse, can find resurrection from our repulsive descent only in an appalling leveling of suffering. You may wish to take this as a caution and a guarantee: FALLING TO EARTH will impress upon you, as it impresses you, an alternate lens through which to view a disaster, and you may not find it amiable.
Southwood transports us back to 1925, to the Tri-State Tornado, the deadliest in U.S. history, that spawned in Missouri, ravaged southern Illinois, where it took the most lives, and dissipated in Indiana, covering nearly 240 miles in under four hours, ending about 700 lives.
The novel opens as the storm strikes fictional Marah, IL, nearly sweeping lumberyard owner Paul Graves into the heavens.Read more ›
Southwood touches on the aftermath of the largest tornado to ever hit the United States, the Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925. This tornado killed almost seven hundred people. The author focuses on one town in Illinois called Marah, which lay directly in the path of the tornado. Of course, there is a lot of loss depicted in the book - death, sadness and the sense to rebuild everything in tragedy's wake. At the same time, the book is about one family - the Graves family, who do not lose anything at all. Everyone is safe in their home. Their home and business are safe and intact. The only family in town that does not suffer.
What then follows in the book is resentment from the other people in town. The resentment arising from the fact that this family did not suffer. The town and its people cannot understand that and this leads to the family being alienated by the town. Kate speaks of crisis and what it does to people - the same people who once trusted you, do not anymore. The central character in the book - Paul Graves wants to do more and so does his family - for the community that is, however they aren't allowed to. The consequences of the tornado are tragic for them as well - for surviving that is.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A well written story that captures the best and the worst of human nature in the wake of a devastating natural disaster..Published 3 days ago by Barbara Crawford
Interesting take on how some people see another's good fortune with envy and mistrust. A thoughtful look at survivor mentality.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was not only a very good story, and though it happened many years the message behind the story has so much meaning. Read morePublished 4 months ago by M Robertson
In the end I enjoyed this book but it took me a while to get into it.. It just seemed a little predictable, obvious and wordy. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dickie Nichols
This is one of the best books I've read in years. Yes, it's terribly painful to read but it is written so beautifully and with so much emotion that you are transported into their... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Lee Anne Embry
I kept going back and forth about giving it two or three stars. But I did finish and did not resort to skimming, like with other books which did not hook me... Read more
Falling to Earth is a remarkable book, and a surprising one, at that. What I expected was the story of a small town recovering from a devastating tornado, cheerfully rebuilding -... Read morePublished 7 months ago by jacque Masumian
Every word of Falling To Earth is well chosen in this profound look into the behavior of those who have suffered a great loss . Exactly what I crave in a novel... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Kindle Customer