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When reading a book that strikes close to home, I usually find myself overwhelmed and intrigued by the similarities between myself, the characters and the circumstances surrounding them. So ultimately, when an author can hold my attention by writing with raw emotion, exploring the finite and complex emotional connections between adults, I am hooked and want to delve deeper into these relationships. REUNION is just such a book, and Hannah Pittard has been able to capture all the allure of a dysfunctional family reconnecting.

Pittard has written a well-nuanced and intriguing story, exploring the love/hate relationships between adult siblings, which is always a hot topic. Developed with wit and heartfelt emotions, the storyline takes an emotionally astute look at the inner workings of a family whose members love each other, but don’t quite know how to connect.

"Pittard has written a well-nuanced and intriguing story, exploring the love/hate relationships between adult siblings, which is always a hot topic."

Taking place over four days, Kate Pulaski finds herself reconnecting with her siblings as they face their father’s funeral. Estranged from him, she is more shocked than saddened by the news of his death --- since he apparently killed himself --- and questions if she is up to a family reunion at this point in her life. Thus, with her marriage falling apart, returning to her birthplace at this precise time and reminiscing with her family and her father’s five former wives only increase her anxiety and add to reminders of his infidelities. With much trepidation, though, Kate reluctantly agrees to join her family for this final farewell, since one thing is certain: she loves her siblings.

Pittard herself has faced many of the same challenges as Kate does. By portraying her heroine as a liar and a cheat, with a career and marriage going down the tubes, and strained relationships with her siblings, Pittard has created a realistic main character, which is important in literature today and exemplifies “how life can inspire fiction.” The fact that Pittard was affected by her parents’ own messy divorce when she was a child, as well as the suicide of her grandfather, makes her story that much more authentic, allowing her to imagine a scenario about the strange reactions of a family when faced with these tragedies.

Kate is forced to confront the failures of her own life, along with her family’s past. This is often in conflict with each other, since her moral code has been shaken by her reaction to her father’s death. As a middle-aged woman grappling with a derailed career, a declining marriage and seemingly endless debt, her future is uncertain and frightening. Coming to terms with her plight, she is forced to reassess her life. Ultimately, it becomes apparent to her that defining family is not as easy as she thinks and “the certainty of knowing someone can completely blind you to the way they change over time.”

By revealing what people will do when pushed to emotional, financial and moral extremes, this fictional tale has taken on some nonfiction credibility, which is possibly why Pittard chose this forum to reinforce such a delicately balanced topic.

Reviewed by Donna Smallwood on October 10, 2014

by Hannah Pittard

  • Publication Date: September 29, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 145555362X
  • ISBN-13: 9781455553624