Teen Book Club

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White

Anqi,    12   
Susan Rebecca White   
A Soft Place to Land   
Touchstone, Simon & Schuster    2010

           A Soft Place to Land is a realistic novel that spans almost two decades from 1993 to 2009, and is about the emotional trial of two sisters, Ruthie and Julia, who at ages 13 and 16 discover their parents dead after a fatal plane crash over the Grand Canyon. While Ruthie and Julia love each other more than anything, they are seperated by the contents of their parents will, stating Julia live with her biological father and Ruthie to live in San Francisco with her Aunt Mimi and her Uncle Robert. While the distance and their parents' accident keeps them apart, mentally and physically, they both eventually grow up, Ruthie discovering a life of cooking and of the Berkely campus, and Julia unveiling her passion for writing after a childhood of drugs and scandal. Though will they forgive each other after a second accident throws them apart once more? While Susan Rebecca White's language and voice is both entertaining and beautiful, the plot turning and twisting with unexpected surprises, beauty, and hope, and the flashbacks of the sisters successfully contributing to the story, I thought that A Soft Place to Land lacked the character development that is usually desperately needed for a realistic novel like this one. Ruthie, a seventh grader at the beginning of the book, who was one of the goodie goodie students, a girl who wanted to impress her teachers and always turned in her homework in time, eventually becomes an irresponsible teenager and also loses much of her personality as she grows up. Although I know her parents' death must have affected this greatly, I thought that Susan Rebecca White should have showed us more of this change instead of quickly zipping to the future, and not showing us how this Ruthie came to be. I also thought that the character of Julia, Ruthie's older half sister, was poorly portrayed as we only looked through her thoughts in a few chapters of the book. However, while those few chapters did shine brightly and contributed much, I thought that Julia through her own eyes should've been seen in a few more pages of the book. While character development needs much more, the plot was excellent, except for the author's tendency to make some passages much slower than others, causing me to get bored at some points while the chapter before I was up and involved with the story. Overall, most of the book was enjoyable and readable, except for these few points.    
Rating: 3 Readable

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