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David Barnes
David Barnes

The Power and Beauty of Friendship in Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos: A Book Review

If you are looking for a book that will make you laugh, cry, and think about the meaning of friendship, love, and life, then you might want to check out Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos. This novel tells the story of three friends who met in college, lost touch for six years, and reunited under mysterious circumstances. It is a journey of discovery, adventure, and reconciliation that will touch your heart and inspire your soul.

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Falling Together is a novel by Marisa de los Santos, a New York Times bestselling author of Love Walked In, Belong to Me, and other books. She is also a poet and a professor of English literature. Her writing style is rich with imagery, metaphors, and lyrical language that create a vivid and engaging story.

The book follows the lives of Penelope "Pen" Calloway, William "Will" Wadsworth Jr., and Catherine "Cat" Ocampo, three friends who met during their freshman year at Cornell University. They formed an inseparable bond that lasted until their graduation, when they parted ways without any explanation. Six years later, Pen is a single mother of a five-year-old girl named Augusta "Gus", living with her older brother Jamie in Philadelphia. Will is a successful lawyer in New York City, engaged to a woman named Olivia. Cat is a mysterious figure who has disappeared from their lives.

The main theme of the book is how friendship can shape our lives, even when we are apart from our friends. It explores how friendship can help us cope with loss, grief, loneliness, identity crisis, and family issues. It also shows how friendship can be tested by time, distance, secrets, betrayal, and misunderstandings. The book asks us to reflect on what it means to be a true friend, and what we are willing to do for our friends.

Plot Summary

The book begins with Pen receiving an email from Cat, inviting her to attend their college reunion. The email sounds urgent and desperate, as if Cat needs her help. Pen decides to go, hoping to see Will and Cat again. She has never stopped missing them and wondering what happened to their friendship.

At the reunion, Pen meets Will, who also received the same email from Cat. They are both surprised and happy to see each other, but also confused and hurt by Cat's absence. They decide to look for her, but they find out that she never registered for the reunion. They also learn that she has been living in the Philippines, her home country, for the past six years.

As they search for clues about Cat's whereabouts, they receive another email from her. This time, she tells them that she is in trouble and that she needs them to come to Manila as soon as possible. She also apologizes for everything that she has done to them, and asks them to trust her one last time.

Pen and Will decide to follow Cat's request, even though they have no idea what is going on. They board a plane to Manila, leaving behind their lives and responsibilities. They hope to find Cat and to understand why she left them so abruptly.

On their way to Manila, they reminisce about their college days, when they were young, happy, and carefree. They recall how they met and became friends, how they shared their dreams and fears, how they supported and comforted each other, and how they fell in love with each other. They also remember how their friendship ended, when Cat announced that she was marrying a man named Jason and moving to California. Pen and Will were shocked and hurt by Cat's decision, especially since they both had feelings for her. They felt betrayed and abandoned by their best friend.

When they arrive in Manila, they are greeted by a man named Rafe, who claims to be Cat's cousin. He tells them that Cat is in danger and that he will take them to her. He leads them to a car, where they are joined by another man named Miguel, who is Rafe's friend. Rafe and Miguel drive them to a remote village in the mountains, where they say Cat is hiding.

Along the way, Pen and Will discover that Cat has been involved in a political movement that opposes the corrupt government of the Philippines. She has been working as a journalist and an activist, exposing the human rights violations and the environmental damage caused by the government and its allies. She has also been helping the indigenous people of the village, who are being threatened by a mining company that wants to exploit their land.

Pen and Will are amazed and impressed by Cat's courage and dedication, but they are also worried about her safety and sanity. They wonder why she never told them anything about her life in the Philippines, and why she dragged them into this dangerous situation.

When they finally reach the village, they are reunited with Cat, who is overjoyed to see them. She hugs them and thanks them for coming. She explains that she sent them the emails because she wanted to see them before she died. She reveals that she has terminal cancer, and that she has only a few months left to live.

Pen and Will are shocked and devastated by this news. They can't believe that their friend is dying, and that they have wasted so much time apart from her. They feel angry and guilty for not being there for her when she needed them most.

Cat apologizes for lying to them and hurting them. She tells them that she married Jason because he was dying of leukemia, and that he was the one who introduced her to the political movement in the Philippines. She says that she left them because she couldn't bear to tell them the truth, and because she wanted to spare them from her pain. She says that she loves them both very much, and that they are the best friends she ever had.

Pen and Will forgive Cat for everything that she has done. They tell her that they love her too, and that they are glad to be with her again. They decide to stay with her in the village for as long as they can.

In the village, Pen and Will get to know more about Cat's work and life in the Philippines. They meet the people that she has been helping and fighting for. They witness the beauty and the hardship of the country. They also learn more about themselves and each other.

Pen realizes that she has been living in fear and grief since her father died two years ago. She has been avoiding risks and changes in her life, focusing only on raising Gus and taking care of Jamie. She has been lonely and unhappy, but too afraid to admit it.

Will realizes that he has been living in denial and guilt since he left his family six years ago. He has been pursuing a career that he hates, marrying a woman that he doesn't love, and pretending to be someone that he is not. He has been unhappy and restless, but too afraid to change it.

Pen and Will also realize that they still love each other Here is the continuation of the article. as they did in college, but they are also afraid to act on them. They don't want to hurt Cat or each other, but they also can't deny their feelings.

As they spend time with Cat in the village, they also face some dangers and challenges. They encounter some hostile soldiers who are working for the mining company. They witness some violent clashes between the villagers and the authorities. They get involved in some rescue missions and humanitarian efforts. They also face some personal dilemmas and conflicts that test their loyalty and trust.

Through these experiences, Pen and Will grow as individuals and as friends. They learn to overcome their fears and regrets. They learn to appreciate their lives and their choices. They learn to respect and support Cat's cause and decisions. They also learn to express their love for each other, without hurting Cat or themselves.



Falling Together is a well-written and well-crafted novel that showcases the author's talent and skill. Some of the strengths of the book are:

  • The author uses vivid prose and poetic language to create a captivating story. She describes the characters, the settings, and the emotions with clarity and beauty. She uses metaphors, similes, and imagery to enhance the meaning and impact of her words. She also uses humor, irony, and sarcasm to add some spice and wit to her narrative.

  • The author explores the themes of friendship, love, identity, and family in a realistic and nuanced way. She shows how friendship can be a powerful and lasting bond that transcends time, distance, and circumstances. She shows how love can be a complex and multifaceted emotion that involves attraction, affection, admiration, devotion, sacrifice, and forgiveness. She shows how identity can be a fluid and dynamic concept that changes with life experiences and choices. She shows how family can be a source of support and comfort, but also of conflict and pain.

  • The author develops the characters of Pen, Will, and Cat as complex and relatable individuals. She gives them distinct personalities, backgrounds, motivations, and goals. She reveals their strengths and weaknesses, their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows. She makes them likable and sympathetic, but also flawed and human.

  • The author portrays the different settings and cultures that the characters encounter in their journey. She depicts the contrast between the urban and rural life in the Philippines, as well as the diversity of its people, languages, religions, customs, and traditions. She also shows the beauty and richness of its natural resources, as well as the challenges and threats that it faces from political corruption, social injustice, environmental degradation, and foreign intervention.

  • The author balances humor, drama, and emotion in the narrative. She mixes light-hearted moments with serious issues, creating a balanced tone that keeps the reader engaged and entertained. She also evokes a range of emotions in the reader, from laughter to tears, from anger to compassion, from curiosity to satisfaction.


Falling Together is not a perfect novel. It has some weaknesses that might affect its appeal or credibility for some readers. Some of these weaknesses are:

  • The author relies on coincidences and contrivances to move the plot forward. She uses some events that seem too convenient or improbable to happen in real life, such as Cat's email invitations to Pen and Will; Cat's terminal illness; Cat's involvement in a political movement; Pen's ability to speak Tagalog; Will's connection to a Filipino senator; Rafe's role as Cat's cousin; Miguel's role as Rafe's friend; etc.

  • The author uses flashbacks and multiple perspectives that sometimes confuse or distract the reader. She switches between past and present events without clear transitions or markers. She also switches between Pen's point of view (first person) and Will's point of view (third person) without clear reasons or consistency.

  • The author creates some secondary characters that are stereotypical or underdeveloped. She gives them little background or personality beyond their roles in relation to Pen Here is the continuation of the article. , Will, and Cat. She gives them generic names and roles, such as Olivia (Will's fiancée), Jamie (Pen's brother), Jason (Cat's husband), Rafe (Cat's cousin), Miguel (Rafe's friend), etc. She does not make them memorable or relevant to the story.

  • The author ends the story with a rushed and unrealistic resolution. She wraps up the conflicts and problems of the characters too quickly and neatly, without addressing the consequences or implications of their actions. She also gives them a happy ending that seems too idealistic and improbable, given the circumstances and challenges that they faced.


Falling Together is a novel that celebrates the power and beauty of friendship. It shows how friendship can help us overcome our difficulties and discover our true selves. It also shows how friendship can survive and thrive despite time, distance, and differences.

The book is a good choice for readers who enjoy stories about friendship, love, adventure, and culture. It is a book that will make you feel a range of emotions, from laughter to tears, from anger to compassion, from curiosity to satisfaction.

Some similar books that readers might like are:

  • One Day I Shall Know by Jessica Brockmole: A historical fiction novel about two friends who reconnect after World War I through letters.

  • Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen: A contemporary fiction novel about four strangers who rent a cottage on an island in Maine for a month.

  • Blood (Scales 'N' Spells #3) by A.J. Sherwood and Jocelynn Drake: A fantasy romance novel about two dragon shifters who fall in love while on a mission to save their friend.


  • What genre is Falling Together?

  • Falling Together is a contemporary fiction novel with elements of romance, adventure, and culture.

  • Who is the author of Falling Together?

  • The author of Falling Together is Marisa de los Santos, a New York Times bestselling author of several novels and poetry collections.

  • When was Falling Together published?

  • Falling Together was published in 2011 by HarperCollins Publishers.

  • Where does Falling Together take place?

  • Falling Together takes place in various locations, such as Philadelphia, New York City, Ithaca, Manila, and a remote village in the Philippines.

  • What are some of the themes of Falling Together?

  • Some of the themes of Falling Together are friendship, love, identity, family, loss, grief, courage, change, and reconciliation.



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