Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 5/6/2014
My Rating: 5 stars
From the internationally bestselling author of four books, including The Opposite of Me, a vibrant, compulsively readable novel about two married couples who pursue a dream to open a bed-and-breakfast in small-town Vermont.
In her previous works including The Best of Us, “rising star” (Library Journal) Sarah Pekkanen captivated readers by penning “refreshingly introspective, sharply realistic, and tenderly humorous” novels (Booklist) that had readers “flying through the pages” (Hoda Kotb, Today show).
Now, in Catching Air, Pekkanen turns an unflinching eye on the tangled relationships of two pairs of thirty-somethings.
A chance to run a B&B in snowy, remote Vermont—it’s an offer Kira Danner can’t resist after six soul-crushing years of working as a lawyer in Florida. As Kira and her husband, Peter, step into a brand new life, she quells her fears about living with the B&B’s co-owners: Peter’s sexy, irresponsible brother Rand, and Rand’s wife, Alyssa…who is essentially a stranger.
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 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 storyline – 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!