A Soft Place to Land actually isn’t one of my actual book club’s selections this summer; I picked it out on a recent trip to Target before our trip abroad last month. I always take a few books with me on my travels, feeling ambitious that I will read as much as I can — despite the fact that I am traveling with young children who may have other activities in store for me. However, as they are getting easier to travel with as they age, my reading time is increasing.
I am intrigued by the book selections at Target, as well as at Costco, and always linger in the book sections for long periods of time when given the opportunity. On the odd occasion, I pick one up.
On that particular day, I picked up A Soft Place to Land (Simon & Schuster) by Susan Rebecca White. The copy on the back cover pulled my heartstrings, I guess. It’s about sisters. I have two. We love each other, but our relationship is at times bumpy. However, I’m not sure what I’d do without them. While I may have not realized how important they were to me while growing up, I certainly do now. While many relationships in my life come and go, they are the two people who love me no matter what, and vice versa.
The book takes place in Atlanta, at least part of it, which is where I was born and bred. I know all of its locations intimately and knew the book would resonate with me on many levels.
The story revolves around two half sisters, Ruthie and Julia, who live a very normal life in a big house with terrific, loving parents. Who would ever think that life could change in the blink of an eye?
When they are ages 13 and 17, their parents are killed in a plane accident while flying over the Grand Canyon. Despite their strong desire to stay together, they are separated by provisions in their parent’s will and are forced to live apart. Julia is sent to live in a small town in Virginia with her father and evil step-wife; Ruthie heads to San Francisco to live with her loving aunt and uncle.
The story is told through Ruthie’s point-of-view. At first, she is not sure how to live without Julia. They communicate mainly via snail mail and their phone calls are somehow met with disappointment and the become less and less frequent. When Julia is finally allowed to go to San Francisco, Ruthie disapproves of her once hip older sister. She doesn’t like the way she dresses in tie-die shirts and she doesn’t like her constant criticism of her lifestyle, which is more fortunate than her own. Julia’s departure is abrupt and it causes friction between the sisters that lasts for many years. When Julia later becomes an author, and reveals a secret about her sister in the book, the damage is irreparable.
But as Ruthie grows up, she never stops longing for her sister. As they grow more and more distant, Ruthie’s memories of her parents get fainter and fainter. When she falls in love with a guy who pulls her back to live in Atlanta, Ruthie reconnects with her past…and her sister.
A Soft Place to Land is a nice summer read. If you have siblings, it will probably make you re-evaluate your relationships, as well as any future provisions you’ve made for your own children if anything should happen to you. White brings in recent real events like 9/11 and the US Airways flight that nearly crashed into the Hudson last year which brings the story closer to home.