Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Catch a Falling Star: Five Stars...albethey late in falling


Catch a Falling Star, Meg McKinlay
I received an advance reading copy for this back in December.  As to why I am only now sharing my thoughts on it, I have pieced together thus:

It took all of one voracious evening for me to read it from title to end matter.  After I closed it, I felt full.  I luxuriated a few minutes in satiated afterglow, then apparently clickety clicked my way onto GoodReads, smugly stamped it with a whopping 5/5 stars, then...fell asleep.

There is nary a sentence of accompanying praise to go with those stars, there's not a word saved in my phone's "Notes"about my reading (which I thought I always did), and there's certainly no drafted review post to be opened now and polished.  How could this be?  This was so unlike me!  Something had gone seriously amuck.

This has come back to me because I did some digging.  And by digging, I mean I scrolled down a smidge on GoodReads to find the date I read Catch a Falling Star.  Bingo. New Year's Eve.  It was this discovery that brought it all back to me.  My husband worked New Year's Eve.  After an hour's read aloud for the offspring (Wildwood Dancing, if you must know) and a dance party thereafter, I tucked in my beloved listener-dancers for the night and welcomed 2019 by crawling into my bed for an uninterrupted book binge.  It was quite an after-party!

The next day we spent at Long Beach playing pole tennis, sun-worshipping, body boarding and throwing back half-thawed popsicles.  Reading thus (without making notes or drafting a review upon completion) and relaxing outdoors with my family thereafter robbed this title of the glowing and timely review it deserved!  I loved this book.  I mean, it was how I saw in the new year, and I 100% would do it all again the same way if given the chance.

I had to get that out of the way -- you must know the delay is not a reflection of mediocrity by any means, but rather an unfortunate price paid for the opposite -- this book was my delicious treat for myself at a time I thought little of homework and more on pleasure.

Now, why did I love it? 
  • The writing is charming and accessible.  I felt like Frankie was confiding in me conversationally.  This helped make a single sitting reading possible.
  • And the curation of details is just so.  What this student is wearing, what that child said -- it's a highly effective highlight reel of Frankie's experience. (One reoccurring specific in the ARC drew a blank for me though; a texta was regularly used to write things. From context I guessed this would be a Sharpie in terms-familiar-to-me, and a good google confirmed as much.  You're welcome, if you are also non-Australian or in the dark on this one.)
  • The 70s setting for this novel lends a warm filter to its accompanying imagery; space station Skylab's omnipresence charges the narrative with quirky fascination and fervour-- a motif that feels rich with relevance.
  • There's a delicate suspense for having these physical and emotional trajectories mapped alongside each other. 
  • As the reader juggles both of those balls, there's no room for romance.  This is a family story and a story about grief.  Don't wait for a love interest to appear. 
  • The interplay between relationships is the meat of it; how imperfect people do their best to be there for each other but how hard that can really be.
  • In the best way, it shares some of the refined magic and messages of The 10pm Question, only I'd venture in a less confronting way (and so perhaps could be suitable for a younger audience).
  • But in terms of suitability and advisory notes on content, Catch a Falling Star is refreshingly clean and a slam-dunk on the tasteful front.
So these are my words, to go with my 5/5 stars; Catch a Falling Star is a winner.  It captures the fragments of warmth and tenderness that flutter and fall through mortality's sieve of pain.  Highly recommended.

I read an ARC from Walker.
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