By: Hannah Pittard
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 10/07/2014
My Rating: 4 Stars
Heartbreak and hilarity come together in this story of a far-flung family reunited for one weekend by their father's death, by the author of the highly acclaimed The Fates Will Find Their Way.
Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly-failed wife, learns that her estranged father killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she reluctantly gives in to her older siblings' request that she join them--and 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 deceits are uncovered, 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.
Hannah Pittard’s REUNION is an emotional and moving novel; with brutal honesty and insights into family dysfunction—with all the grief and pain, mixed with humor and wit.
Kate is a struggling screenwriter and pretty much out of work for the summer. She happens to be at the airport, when receiving a call from her brother that their father has committed suicide and she needs to come home to Atlanta for the funeral. This news has left her pretty much emotionless and numb.
You see, her family is not a traditional one. In fact, her father has been married five times. (her mom is deceased and the original family consists of Kate, Elliott, and Nell). However, there are so many ex-wives of all ages, from young to old, and half siblings she has not met; and her father did not know the meaning of the word “faithful”.
Kate does not even want to attend the funeral in Atlanta, as how can she pretend to have loved her father. She is very close to her sister and speaks to her brother when she can. Needless to say, Kate is not a happy camper. She is jaded, untrustworthy, sarcastic, cynical, and does not have a lot going on in her own life at the moment.
Her salary level is very low and with the months she is not working, she will have to find part time work or waiting tables. She is miserable in her marriage, had an affair, has blown through all her money she has made in her career, in debt with school loans, and credit cards, and the last place she wants to be is here with a bunch of pretentious southerners. Her husband has bailed her out of her credit card debt previously, but she can no longer count on him. How will she survive? However, her family does not know her issues, nor does she know what they are going through.
What makes REUNION work is the humor mixed with tragedy, and the dynamics of siblings, as sometimes things are not as they seem. There are always expectations with families, and in reality families do not really know one another.
Kate can only think of jealousy, being the youngest of the (original family), what she missed, what she did not receive, and what everyone else received. Then of course the other families. As Kate, Elliot, and Nell each deal with their own issues, and their unresolved feelings about their father, they also must deal with Sasha and Mindy, as well as their own childhood rivalries.
As Kate learns more about her family and actually takes a step back to listen, she realizes how self-centered she has been as, as everyone views things differently. How could she view her father in one light and her little sister thinks of him as wonderful? All of them have secrets they are hiding and only when they come clean can the healing begin.
I was reminded of the novel I Love You More by Jennifer Murphy (except there were three wives planning a murder). I listened to the audiobook and Julia Whelan’s voice mirrored Kate’s personality for a heartwarming family reunion.
Even though Kate was frustrating at times, the dark humor worked, as was glued to my iPod to learn the fate of this chaotic family. Having spent my entire adult life in Atlanta, enjoyed the comical references. This was my first book by Pittard, and look forward to reading more!