on May 10, 2014
I had the great privilege and pleasure of receiving an advanced copy of CATCHING AIR. This novel was my salvation while passing a wretched kidney stone! A page-turner, with rich, beautifully nuanced characters . . . Internationally bestselling author Pekkanen takes us on a lively literary adventure when brothers at odds, Rand and Peter, open a bed-and-breakfast in small-town Vermont with their wives, Alyssa and Kira.
Each character seems to have “fled” to this snowy, idyllic setting in search of tranquility and a fresh start. What ensues is far from serene. As sisters-in-law and veritable strangers, Alyssa and Kira, prepare for their first big booking—a winter wedding—a fragile and enigmatic young woman enters their lives. What or whom is Dawn Zukoski hiding from? Can their husbands, Rand and Peter, rebuild their fractured relationship after years of heartbreak and the loss of a parent? And will these sisters-in-law—who are so fundamentally different—find common ground to set this enormous endeavor in motion?
Hold onto your seats, folks! In typical Pekkanen fashion, there is more than meets the eye. CATCHING AIR delves into a multitude of resonant topics including: the intricacies of marriage, infertility, adoption, loss, self-sacrifice, familial resentment, career resurgence, forgiveness, and most significantly, CHANGE. I was so immersed in this sharply perceptive and poignant escapade, I didn’t want it to end.
Library Journal once refereed to Pekkanen as a “rising star” in women’s fiction—this is no longer the case. PEKKANEN IS A STAR. Her fifth novel is a true testament to her undeniable talent and is a must-read.
A special thank you to the publisher, Atria Books, Washington Square Press and NetGalley for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
First and foremost, Sarah Pekkanen is one of my favorite authors, having read all her books (she has a clear understanding of the topics of women, especially the thirty-something crowd); whether single, married, or mothers. Her humor, in-depth research of subject matter, and insightfulness is reflective throughout her books, making her a fan of women, of all ages.
There are so many aspects to this book: The idyllic setting, a B&B, from Florida sunshine to Vermont snow, high powered attorney to running a B&B, two married couples (totally different), and a single gal running from her troubled past. What a journey!
Next, the B&B storyline most definitely drew me in. Having worked in the hotel business and a B&B consultant for years, with my share of innkeeping and event planning--- there is always high drama, especially when weddings or high stress special events are taking place. You pretty much live on high adrenaline around the clock, especially with Trip Advisor, social and mobile media integration, trying to please every guest--their wants, desires, and expectations are always high. Sarah did a great job highlighting some of the realistic day- to -day details (sometimes much worse; however, rewarding at times, as well), involved in the business of running and operating a B&B.
Could definitely relate to the characteristics of dyslexia, as well- (my ex-husband had three sons all with dyslexia)--they fit the profile perfectly with Rand. Good looking, charming, life of the party, and personality--compensating and always looking for adventure and running from responsibility and problems - so ADD. You have to love them; however, very frustrating at times.
However, the real magic and meat of "Catching Air" is the rich character development; their past, present--a solid background of each, in order to provide the reader with a deeper understanding of how they fit into the overall story line; how their insecurities, sense of adventure, responsibility, faults, strengths/weaknesses, past parent-child relationship, and loyalty played into their overall character and how their personalities changed and matured, throughout the novel as they intertwine, based on circumstances and new relationships.
I found the dynamics between Alyssa/Rand quite interesting. Here you have a free-spirited nice looking couple, both loving adventure, spontaneous, love of travel, non-career minded, and never committing to staying in one place very long (wow, wished I had the money to be them). Life is always on a high; not an ideal couple to buy a B&B. To see Rand/Alyssa relationship develop and change, as they embark upon parenthood and real responsibility. Alyssa has no problem changing; however, can Rand?
Ironically, Rand's brother Peter and his wife Kira, a more career-minded lawyer leaving Florida (my other connection), after her failed attempts and frustrations with becoming partner at her law firm - chooses to go with her husband, and live with a brother and sister in law they hardly know, to help run a B&B in Vermont. They on the other hand, are ideal for running an inn, as Kira possesses organizational and culinary skills, and Peter is very level headed, patient, nurturing, and more of a caregiver.
Then there is the relationship between the two brothers Peter/Rand and their past, as they dealt with their mom's cancer in two different ways which still has not been resolved. The relationship between Alyssa/Kira, the sister-in-law, which turned out ideal. They each are experiencing struggles and desires of becoming a mother and how their past and future dictates their choices. Also the dynamics of their childhood, being poor and financially secure has affected their choices in life. The two couples actually complement one another in different ways.
And, the icing on the cake, is the other main character, Dawn and how her life connects and their paths cross with the two married couples. Of course, she is running from the fiasco with her former company, an ex-boyfriend, a setup, and the insecurities of her past. It was exciting to see her character unfold, as she becomes part of these two families living under one roof, her strengths, and her part in operation of the inn. Also her solid relationship with Peter, and how she looks to him for guidance and strength.
Very interesting, to see how Alyssa goes from the free-spirited to the worrier. Kira goes from being the steady one, the rock, and glue to hold it all together to being spontaneous, and running away from the pressure.
Each character brings so much to the novel, and Sarah does a magnificent job of bringing these complex yet engaging characters together for a take away about importance of family, love, and communication. I could see a sequel here, as would like to see a continuation of these dynamic characters for at least a few more books!
"Catching Air would be a very interesting book for book clubs, and reading groups, to discuss further, the complex relationships of these two couples and Dawn; how they changed and matured from the beginning of the book to the end. Well done!