Cover Image: Dreams of Falling

Dreams of Falling

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Dreams of Falling by Karen White is a 2018 Berkley publication. 

So far, my summer reading experience has been second to none. I’ve enjoyed some great romances, thrillers, mysteries, and even touched base with my favorite series, and beach reads. So, Karen White faced some pretty stiff competition by the time I got around to reading this book. But, hands down this is my favorite book of summer. 

Larkin is called home, from New York, to South Carolina, after a lengthy absence because her mother, Ivy, suffered a horrible, life threatening fall, under mysterious circumstances, which opens up a Pandora’s box of old family secrets. Meanwhile, Larkin must confront her painful past, and come to terms with the complicated relationship she has with Ivy and her father, and the horrible embarrassment she suffered back in high school. 

Along the way, she will embark on a journey of self-discovery as she begins to decipher a decades old mystery surrounding her late grandmother. 

Southern lit is a lot like indulging in good southern food. It always feels a little more succulent, a little more decadent, a lot more sinful, and much heavier and meatier. It’s also very comforting and always leaves me feeling peacefully gratified. Karen White’s southern dramas has the same effect on me as having consumed a huge southern style meal, a nice bottle of red wine, a rich dessert, and lovely cup of strong coffee to sip on, while I kick back and savor the feeling of satisfaction, absorbing and digesting all the various angles of the story, the characterizations, and the big emotions her stories often bring to the surface. 

This book is no exception- but, this time, Ms. White has taken it to a whole new level. I have often lamented the death of those fabulous family sagas, wishing that someday, someone would come along and refresh the genre to fit into our busy lives, where huge ‘doorstopper’ tomes don’t quite fit anymore. 

Karen White pulls that off with a novel that covers several generations but manages to wrap everything up in one book in just a little over four hundred pages. 

Only a veteran, seasoned author could pull off this type of prose, using a variety of narrative options, going back and forth in time. Again- White stitched together an intricate web that kept me transfixed from beginning to end. There was never even the tiniest blip. If I had to make a complaint, I have to say I wish I had gotten a clearer picture of Bitty, and I wish Ivy’s past had been a bit more fleshed out, with a deeper analysis regarding her flightiness. 

Other than that, this is a near perfect representation of southern lit. Long buried family secrets, a mystery, a small paranormal tint, eccentric characters, a wide range of voices and moods, lots of high drama and waves of emotions, strong familial ties and equally strong bonds of friendship, with a tender and sweet romance to cap it all off. 

Naturally, one doesn’t want to over indulge in large, heavy meals and rich desserts too often, because too much of a good thing can be bad. However, the opposite is true with good southern dramas. Over indulgence is good for you. It nourishes the mind, spirit and soul- so, in this case- you can never have too much of good thing.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a nice mix for those who enjoy family stories, historical fiction and even a little mystery.  It demonstrates how our decisions have long reaching and life changing consequences, sometimes affecting future generations. But also how deception born from love can have positive impacts on life. It's a great book with likable characters and an interesting plot that blooms into a story of love, friendship and loyalty. Karen White is a master storyteller and I have enjoyed and recommended many of her books. This one is a new addition, not to be missed.
Was this review helpful?
Larkin Lanier enjoys her life in New York City where she has lived for almost a decade.  One day she learns that her mother, Ivy, is missing.  This forces her back to her hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina which she has avoided since high school. The trip back is awkward since she has had little contact with her family and friends.  She is greeted by her grandmother's lifelong friends, CeeCee, and Bitty.  These two women played a big role in raising Ivy after her grandmother's untimely death. 

Ivy is found unconscious and injured at the family’s plantation home which has been abandoned. Larkin wonders why her mother would venture out to this unusual location.  In the process of seeking answers, she begins to uncover many secrets about her family.  While waiting for her mother's health to improve, Larkin slowly reconnects with her childhood friends.

Dreams Of Falling is a vivid drama which explores complex relationships between lifelong friends. I enjoyed the way Karen White weaved together different time frames along multiple generations of women. This is my second review for this author and I look forward to her future works.
Was this review helpful?
DREAMS OF FALLING by Karen White combines elements of traditional women's fiction, mystery and historical fiction for a satisfying, absorbing beach or airplane read. The setting is the Lowcountry of South Carolina and the time period shifts from contemporary times (2010) back across two generations of intertwined families. Initially, it is the middle generation – Ivy – whose accidental injury brings together her daughter Larkin and the friends of Ivy's mother, Margaret, who herself died in in the early 1950s due to a fire at the family's plantation. That tragedy left friends Ceecee and Bitty to raise Ivy.  DREAMS OF FALLING moves back and forth between decades and between narrators as Larkin seeks to discover more about her family's past. At times, it was hard to believe that she had never asked these questions, but there are numerous secrets and betrayals (intended or otherwise) to uncover. Ivy, in a coma, cannot communicate with other characters, but muses to readers, "Love, I have found, is a treacherous companion. When you do something out of love, it usually backfires. People need to know that."

Like White's other titles (The Night the Lights Went Out or The Sound of Glass), this novel is full of observations about motivation and relationships: "There’s something about mothers and daughters, I think, that makes us always want to hold close at the same time we try to push each other away." DREAMS OF FALLING is a story of small town life in the South which allows for growth in its characters; saying, "It's because everything that's beautiful and worthwhile on this earth starts out as a pile of mess. Think of butterflies. It's the struggle to get past the messy part that makes us who we are."
Was this review helpful?
A multi-generational novel about how secrets tend to come out even if they’ve been hidden for decades. Each of these women has their own skeletons and issues to deal with but everything is done out of love. Larkin was doused with love but because she wasn’t allowed to fail or to see herself as other did it isn’t until she’s an adult she has some self awareness. 

What Ms. White does well is tell the story in flashbacks and present day. You start to understand the choices each of them made and why. 

If you enjoy books about family with a southern setting, this is for you.
Was this review helpful?
I will read anything Karen White writes (@karenwhitewrite twitter handle)!  Like Lisa Wingate, she is a sure bet for Readers' Advisory to a certain segment of my customers, and I am always happy to have new book to recommend. In Dreams of Falling, the author sets up an intriguing premise of three life-long friends who share a secret, and the impact it has on their lives. I am always impressed when an author can present flash-backs in such a way that it doesn't negatively affect the flow of the story. Karen White has the right touch for this, as well as character development and plot structure. This is an easy book to recommend, and I'm happy to do so!  Thanks for the e-galley. Always appreciated.
Was this review helpful?
Full of southern warmth, and at times simply heart rending, Dreams of Falling has Karen White's signature unctuous flavor and depth in spades.  What seems like a wholly tangled web provides a captivating journey to a satisfying end.
Was this review helpful?
Nestled comfortably into the perfectly manicured grounds of the prestigious Carrowmore Estate is a legend of epic proportions. The country estate is home to a tree; a vessel especially made for wishing. The sacred oak is known for its prophetic and giving nature; it is a tree that has withstood the age of time, countless hurricanes, and surrounding expansion. Inside the gaping mouth of this famous tree, wishes are buried and dreams are fervently made with hushed whispers and bated breaths.

One stormy afternoon, three young girls write their innermost secrets and greatest hopes on ribbons. Margaret, Bitty, and CeeCee are best friends on a quest for adventure and glory, and are sure that the tree will deliver. Placing their carefully constructed ribbons inside the tree for safekeeping, they make a pact to always be there for one another. Little do they know just how taut the ties that bind them will stretch as the following weeks, months, and years play out.

A couple of lifetimes later, a girl who had once flown the veritable coop returns home. Larkin fled South Carolina almost a decade earlier, with hardly a word or goodbye to anyone. She’d ridden off like the bird she was named after, on the back of the wind coming in off the water, all the while desperate and eager to put everything that was her life in the quaint small town of Georgetown firmly behind her. The only thing that could have brought her back home is Ivy, her mother.

As far as healthy mother/daughter relationships go, Ivy and Larkin were the definition of failure. They were more friendly acquaintances than family, both women looking in on the other’s life with a quiet smile and a nod of the head and never anything deeper. Larkin spent the majority of her childhood doing her best to get her mama’s attention by acting out or behaving just like her, but all it got the child in the end was a wider gap forged between the two. Ivy never knew how to raise a daughter like Larkin – the fire inside the little girl always intimidated her, and Ivy’s mind never was quite right after the love of her life suddenly passed away, leaving a lifetime of promises melting away in front of her.

But it was all a situation that resolved itself in the form of CeeCee, a woman who was best friends with Ivy’s mother and one who’d vowed that Ivy (nor her offspring) would ever want for anything. CeeCee raised Ivy after her mother died and then raised Larkin when it was apparent Ivy couldn’t mentally or emotionally handle the burden. She’d muscled in with her quiet but exacting way and solved problems with lots of fried chicken and buttery mashed potatoes . . . and plenty of pecan pie.

Never having had children of her own, Ceecee took the Darlington heirs in as her own flesh and blood, doing her best to honor the promise she’d made with Margaret and Bitty all those years ago when they were freshly made adults; three girls straight out of high school and ready for a last summer spent on the beach. It was her duty to raise Ivy and Larkin. Especially considering the part she’d played in Margaret’s death. CeeCee has been busy burying those secrets for years, albeit out of love, and she has no plans to start unearthing it all now. But as the truths of Ivy’s disappearance begins creeping towards the light, CeeCee realizes she may not have any choice in the matter but to come clean.

South Carolina is a place that Larkin loves and hates in equal measure. It holds the skeletons in the closet of her childhood and teenage years. Endless hours spent with her best friends Mabry and Bennett, the days spent trying to eat enough pie to bury her feelings, and heartache in the form of the ultimate rejection from the most popular guy in school. The news of Ivy’s disappearance was about the only thing that could have gotten Larkin out of New York and back down south, but that still doesn’t mean she’s in any mood to face demons of days past. Unfortunately for Larkin, it seems like there are memories and familiar faces at every turn, each ready and willing to dredge up the events that led her to run away in the first place. She is beginning to feel like she can’t escape, and she wonders why she hasn’t been able to transform her insides as completely as she’s transformed her outsides in the years since she’s been away. As she lets the walls fall down and allows herself to feel those intense emotions from her teenage years, Larkin opens up a can of worms she can’t close back up again. Merging her present with Ivy’s past, Larkin digs down deep into the history of her family to try and solve the mysteries she’s facing in the present. Why did CeeCee raise her mother? Why did Ivy find it so difficult to be a mother, herself? And what happened all those years ago, when Carrowmore nearly burned to the ground in the middle of a hurricane?

Dreams of Falling is written by the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels, Karen White. No stranger to the penning of dramatic and romantic tomes sent within the stoic trees and overflowing bayous of the South, White has checked a lot of boxes with her newest novel:

Decades-old mystery – Check.

Sentimental friendship(s) – Check.

Budding romance – Check.

Good ole’ Southern roots – Check.

Lots of pecan pie and sweet tea – Check. Check. Check.

The feel of this book was as overpowering as the thick humidity that hits you every time you step out of doors anywhere beneath the Mason-Dixon Line. The love that CeeCee felt for the Darlington women (regardless of the generational gap) was that of a mother to a child. I was especially fond of the backstory involving her, Bitty, and Margaret, and of course the love of her life. The three women could not have been more different but the sense of innate loyalty that bonded them together like glue was remarkable.

Larkin was less interesting than CeeCee, but she had her merits. I felt for her in so many of the cringe-worthy moments that she relived once she came home and was confronted with all she’d left behind. Bennett was exceptional and attractive, but I think I preferred this novel to not be so focused on romance and was glad that it wasn’t. Things seemed to fall into place a little more organically that way. There were Southern nuances that I appreciated, as well.

All in all, this was a novel that I enjoyed and would read again. It has been categorized as a stand-alone novel but I read in a few other reviews that is is connected loosely to another White book. I’m going to have to do some due diligence here and find out which one(s) because I am a fan of the little Southern town cast as the setting here.

Giving Dreams of Falling 4 out of 5 stars, I recommend it to those who enjoy close-knit friendships, are fans of books like Chanel Cleeton’s Next Year in Havana, or who keep their stilettos firmly planted on Southern soil.
Was this review helpful?
Karen White is, without question, my 'go to' author.  I can always count on a wonderful engaging read and have no hesitations recommending her books to anyone.  Just in reading the first few lines of Dreams of Falling, I was hooked.  Dreams of Falling is set in Georgetown, South Carolina and is a story of friendship, family, love and secrets.  Larkin has finally escaped the low country and found a new sense of self in New York when she receives a call that her mother is missing.  She must return to Georgetown and when she does, she truly realizes that you really can't go home again.  Larkin's mother Ivy is found alive but badly injured inside the ruins of their ancestral plantation home but no one knows why she was there.  While Larkin waits for her mother to wake up, she delves into some of the history behind the plantation and her mother and grandmother's pasts.  

Karen White develops characters like no one else.  She writes strong female characters that are unique, memorable and relatable.  I'm always transported to the Southern locales that the books are set in and often don't want to leave.  With Karen White books, I am usually torn between reading the book as quickly as I can while not wanting the story to end, and Dreams of Falling was no exception.  A five star read for me!  

I received this book courtesy of Berkley Publishing Group through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is the perfect summer read! From mystery and drama to romance and friendships, this book has a little of everything! I was blown away by White's ability to give each of the characters such unique voices that fit together seamlessly to advance the story. I wholeheartedly recommend this book!
Was this review helpful?
Karen White is one of those authors for me where I either love or just ehh her books.  This was the first time that I didn't enjoy a certain storyline, but adored others, it was a different kind of read for me.  

Let me start with the storyline that I would have cut.  Ivy is the middle generation in this story and she is in a coma after a fall.  While in her coma she is still able to narrate in the present and that was interesting.  The part that didn't add to the main storyline and instead just added pages was her storyline with Ellis.  It was just another character to add to the large cast and just didn't mean much to me throughout the book.

Now for what I loved.  I loved the Ceecee, Margaret, Bitty storyline in the 1950s.  It was so fun to go back to that time period and relive it.  The structure that women had to adhere to and the limitations on things, I loved taking it back to that moment in time.  I also loved the story that centered around Larkin in 2010.  I love when a character has to go back home after awhile and face things from the past and also learns something about themselves or their relatives.  I would love to come up with a catchy term, but these books are my jam!  The #prodigalson/daughter books!

So in all, I liked the book.  I would say it was quite a chunky read, so be prepared and there were some moments where the pacing was a bit slow, but in all it was a good read.
Was this review helpful?
Larkin fled South Carolina as soon as she graduated high school.  Her friends and family never thought she would stay away for 9 years.  She returns because her mother is missing.  Her aunts and friends rally around her and she's found at the old family property that is burned and in terrible condition.  Ivy is found unconscious having fallen through the rotting floors and Larkin is obsessed with finding why her mother went to the old plantation.  Family secrets from previous generations have some in her family dreading what she will uncover and her friends work on healing their friendship from high school.  There are multiple time lines which I like and the chapters are well labeled so you can follow each of the story lines easily.  A nice read with a mystery and love intermixed along with friendship and maturity.  I like Karen White and enjoy many of her books.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Karen White is an enormous talent and as such I tend to form an opinion before I even start a book by her.  I know it will be good – just not to what degree.  

Nine years ago Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads--and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.  Larkin's relationship with her mother Ivy has never been easy but soon Ivy is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family's ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. 

No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets which were kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways.

*** Well as to the degree of how good the story was - It was awesome!  Heartbreakingly, lovingly, soul-searching fabulous!   The three friends were inseparable, all with dreams of the future and how wonderful life was, but unfortunately life was not always wonderful, wars interrupted dreams and casualties interrupted and changed lives.   But hadn’t they all promised “friends forever”?  Were the tests to come things they could overcome?  

Over the 50 years, who would survive the deaths, the births, the challenges and keep the friendships strong.  Read on and find out!   You’ll be amazed!

Marilyn Rondeau
Was this review helpful?
“We are made by those who have built and broken us.” Set in gorgeous South Carolina lowcountry, DREAMS OF FALLING is about the strongest friendships and the painful secrets that test their bonds.

This is a multi-generational story told in both the past and present. In the early 1950s, three friends, Ceecee, Margaret, and Bitty, hide their wishes in the trunk of a magical tree, but the outcome was nothing like they’d expected. Be very careful what you wish for! Keeping secrets, even with the best intentions, can be so harmful even many years down the road.

In present day, Larkin returns to Georgetown, South Carolina, after nearly a decade in New York. Her mother Ivy is badly injured, and Larkin believes she wants to tell her something – about the past, their ancestral home, and Larkin’s grandmother. She’s been kept in the dark for so long that learning the truth will finally be a reprieve…

DREAMS OF FALLING is beautifully written Southern fiction with a Gothic touch, and a bit of mystery and romance too. It took me a few chapters to really get into the flow of things, especially trying to keep characters straight (ages, relationships, etc.), but once I was familiar with everyone, the story flowed nicely. The ending is sure to tug at your heartstrings.
Was this review helpful?
I wanted to love this book but alas the main character (who is my age which is rare) made me so mad throughout the book. I did enjoy the flashbacks and an ending that ties everything up nicely but I won’t say this is my favorite Karen White.
Was this review helpful?
Every Karen White book I have ever read has a lot of characters to keep up with.  This book is no different.  In the beginning, I was so confused as the characters are introduced and time switched back and forth.  However, I trudged on.  I am thankful that I did.

Karen White's books are deep.  She writes with a level of depth that is rare.  The characters are real, tangible.  The plot has multiple dynamics.  



I posted this review to Amazon.com and Goodreads.com.

This is a book to read slowly--a little at a time, put aside, and digest  I recommend this!
Was this review helpful?
My Highly Caffeinated Thought: A heartfelt tale of generations of women, their secrets, their regrets, and the memories that bind them all.

DREAMS OF FALLING is a story where the reader can so easily be swept up in the lives of the women. Their emotions, histories, and most importantly, relationships define who they are. While reading White’s latest, it has made me realize just how much I enjoy reading family sagas. The stories crossing decades, the characters, and the secrets hidden pull me in.

What I loved about this book is how well crafted and eloquent the prose was. It flows seamlessly from past to present as each work together in unraveling the mystery of Larkin’s Grandmother’s death. Also, the dynamics of the mother and daughter relationship are explored as both Larkin and her mother Ivy have more than one mother figure in their lives. The women in this book are strong and willful, but love fiercely more than anything else. They are where this story shines.

From beginning to end, DREAMS OF FALLING captivated me as it sent me down to South Carolina with these amazingly diverse, smart, and at times humorous ladies. I came to think of Larkin, Ivy, Ellis, Ceecee, and Bitty more as long lost friends than characters in a novel. It is truly a wonderful read.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. 
The beginning started a little slow for me, and I had trouble figuring out the cast of characters. After I had read about 5%, I was hooked and couldn't stop reading. 

The characters were believable. I felt as if I were in the background watching everything unfold as it happened in real life. The flashbacks to CeeCee in her much younger years helped tie the story together as well as lay the groundwork for the parallels in Larkin and Mabry's life. 

This was my first book by Karen White, and I look forward to going back and reading more.
Was this review helpful?
Many times I get review pitches months before the actual review posts. When I get the review pitch, sometimes the book sounds interesting at that time but when it comes time to pick it up to actually read it for review months later, it might not sound as interesting.

So how do I combat this? I trust the process. I have to believe that something about the book appealed to me at one time or another enough for me to agree to review it and even if I am not 100% in the mood to read it when it’s time—I need to trust that I had good judgment.

That’s kind of what happened with this book. I have had Karen White on my radar for years. I’ve seen a number of her novels and they all sound great—though I hadn’t read anything by her, I was eager to read one of her books when it came up for review.

I got the review pitch for DREAMS OF FALLING back in March at a time when I was gearing up for my summer reading and this book cover just screamed summer to me. But before I knew it, late May was here and it was time for me to start reading this book and I just wasn’t excited.

I had just finished another summer read and I was kind of over summer reading—but again I had to trust the process. Something about this book made me want to read it at some point. In this case it was the author’s reputation.

This is the perfect example of why I trust in my process because before I knew it, I was completely engrossed in this novel and couldn’t put it down!

It’s been nine years since Larkin fled Georgetown, South Carolina, vowing never to go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she knows she has no choice but to return to the place that she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.

Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered in the burned-out wreckage of her family’s ancestral rice plantation, badly injured and unconscious. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly 50 years. Secrets that lead back to the past, to the friendship between three girls on the brink of womanhood who swore that they would be friends forever, but who found that vow tested in heartbreaking ways (summary from Goodreads).

This novel wasn’t the easy beach fluff that I was expecting. The cover indicates that it’s more of a beach-y read but this wasn’t that—it was a more complex story of love and loss. It was a heavier novel than I was expecting, but I can’t say that I was bothered by that. I loved that it was more than just a light novel.

White has a great way of charming the readers with her prose. I loved her easy story telling style which highlighted the story itself rather than letting the prose be the star. I love how this novel included various plot points—romance, friendship, family—the focus wasn’t just on one thing.

This novel is set in the south and has a lot of references to southern culture. While I might not fully understand some of the references, I felt like they added so much authenticity to the novel and I think readers will appreciate the attention to details. I have read a few books set in the south over the years and I am always charmed by the location and the people. Something about the location makes a novel with family secrets a little more juicy and interesting—at least for me.

I loved the characters that White has created. I am not sure which one I liked the most as I enjoyed each of them in their own way as they were each unique and interesting. I loved watching their stories come alive through the book and I was emotional at various points which is a hallmark of a powerful connection between reader and character.

This book was a wonderful read. I can’t say enough good things! I am so happy to discover a new to me author. This book was a high point in my reading this spring. I am so glad I decided to review it and when the time came to read it, though initially I wasn’t ‘in the mood’ to read it, I am so very glad I did because it was a fantastic read and one that I won’t soon regret and I will continue to recommend to friends! I am so eager to read more of her books to see how they compare!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Dreams of Falling by Karen White

Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Berkley
ASIN B073YZVK2S
Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This book counts toward: NA

Hosted by: NA
Books for Challenge Completed: NA
Recommendation: 5 out of 5

Genre: Women’s fiction

Memorable lines/quotes:
Was this review helpful?
A bit confusing at times, but a satisfying story for those who like fiction where the past and present collide.
Was this review helpful?