I can’t remember where I got this book, at a garage sale or Goodwill or something. And because I have tendencies to stockpile books like the Nazis are coming, I also tend to forget what books I have. But this is the summer of the book-buying freeze until I get through some so I’m trying to blaze through a pretty big stack or two before I return to school and get distracted again.
All that to say, I read A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White recently. And while the summary on the back didn’t jump out to me specifically, Kathryn Stockett (author of The Help) is on the cover singing its praise so I took her word for it and started reading. A Soft Place to Land is about two sisters (half-sisters, technically) who lose their parents in a plane crash. That event forever alters the course of their lives and the book follows the relationship (and sometimes, lack of relationship) through adulthood and more tragedy. Julie, the older, rebellious sister always seems to get the short end of the stick when it comes to life. Her younger sister, Ruthie, has always idolized her sister in spite of all her faults and bad choices. When the two are split up after their parents die, they promise to still hold on tight to each other as they are all they have left of their “family.” But life doesn’t always pay attention to things like that and when they end up on different sides of the continent, things get difficult.
The book starts off with them in adolescence and ends, rather abruptly I think, when they’re in their late thirties. There are real historical events woven into their story which makes the reader feel more connected, because we remember the events like 9/11 and what we did that day. So to see the characters react and respond to it was emotional and raw.
I liked the story in A Soft Place to Land but felt it ended, like I said, suddenly. Like I flipped to the next page and didn’t realize I was at the end until I went back and re-read the last few pages. And then I went online and looked up the sequel because I was sure there was one. But there isn’t one and I’m not sure how I feel about that. The ending for me wasn’t enough and didn’t do the story or the characters the justice they deserved. Plus, I like a story with a clean ending and there wasn’t one here.
Have you read this one before? How do you feel about endings with loose ends? I know it’s not real life, but I like my books to end neatly. What do you think?