Thursday, February 19, 2015

Review: Reunion

Summary: The author of the highly acclaimed The Fates Will Find Their Way returns with a novel about a far-flung family reunited for one weekend by their father's death.

Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly failed wife with scarcely a hundred dollars to her name, learns that her estranged father has killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she gives in to her siblings' request that she join them, along with 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 foibles are exposed, 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) - Grand Central Publishing

When I saw down to write a review this morning, I realized that I never shared my thoughts with you about the novel REUNION by Hannah Pittard. I read this one quite a few months ago and enjoyed it quite a bit at the time. The book centered around a dysfunctional individual who was part of a dysfunctional family, and I found the story to be both entertaining and enlightening.

REUNION tells the story of Kate Pulaski, a former screenwriter who has recently cheated on her husband. She is pretty much down on her luck -- both career-wise and marriage-wise; and she's majorly in debt. She is on an airplane waiting for takeoff one day when she plays her phone messages... out loud. She discovers that her estranged father has just killed himself and that her siblings want her to join them for the sendoff. This means not only her brother and sister with whom she is actually somewhat close, but her father's five ex-wives and her many half-siblings... with whom she isn't all that close.

The rest of the novel takes place in a few days as the family comes together for the final farewell. Secrets are revealed and Hannah begins to see that she and her father have more in common that she ever knew. It's a time for Hannah to not only learn more about her estranged father but also her own self.

I found REUNION to be a terrific read! I'm sure you can tell that Hannah was a deeply flawed character; however, that aspect of the story made it all the more appealing to me. The beauty of this novel wasn't necessarily in the actually story itself (although I did enjoy it). Rather, it was Hannah's character and her narration of the novel which brought it to the next level to me.

Hannah was a piece of work, and frankly, I had a hard time liking her. Her self-absorption, immaturity, and self-pity were extreme (albeit entertaining in a twisted way); and her "journey" and/or self-discovery were interesting to say the least. I am pretty sure that some readers will hate Hannah, or at the very least, want to knock her upside the head every now and then. I just chose to accept her and she even managed me to laugh more than a few times.

I was pretty sure I knew where this novel was going. Heck it's about a dysfunctional family, an immature women, and saying good bye to her estranged father. And while, I wasn't exactly surprised by how everything worked out, I was impressed with how the author got there. I found Ms. Pittard's writing to be fresh, smart, and humorous; and I especially enjoyed her first person portrayal of Hannah. I haven't read any other books by Ms. Pittard, but I wouldn't hesitate to pick up her first book THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY.

I do think REUNION would make a terrific book club pick -- if nothing more than to discuss Hannah and her self-absorption. There are quite a few relevant topics to discuss like family, marriage, secrets, honestly, forgiveness, redemption, siblings, and responsibility. Since so many of Hannah's actions are kind of/sort of questionable, I do believe that they should generate quite a bit of passionate discussion.

I totally enjoyed REUNION -- both because of the wonderful writing and the interesting characters. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I love flawed characters and family secrets!

Allison said...

This sounds really great! I actually love flawed characters, and Hannah sounds so rich and interesting, very human. Thanks for a great review!