Skip to main content

Dreams of Falling


Dreams of Falling

Mother-daughter relationships, longtime friendships, generational dramas --- relationships with consequences past and present --- fill the world of Karen White’s DREAMS OF FALLING, the story of three young women battling small-town expectations in the 1950s in the South. In Georgetown, South Carolina, Ceecee, Margaret and Bitty graduate from high school. They are bound by shared dreams, wishes that they write on ribbons and tie to an old tree. A graduation trip to Myrtle Beach allows them a chance at possible freedom, to let their hair down. But craziness on the boardwalk one night leads to events and sacrifices, the consequences of which are felt through three generations of their families.

"DREAMS OF FALLING is a beautiful and moving summer novel that will take you away, truly, from your everyday woes, whether you vacation or staycation this summer."

In the present day, White introduces us to Larkin Lanier, an 18-year-old who skedaddled out of Georgetown as soon as she was able. When her mother Ivy disappears, she is summoned back to her hometown. Ivy is found on an abandoned rice plantation that belongs to their family. Eventually Larkin’s questions about this mysterious and tragic situation lead her to a ribbon left on the 1950s trio’s tree. It reads “I know about Margaret.” And so more questions unfurl a mystery as old as that ribbon and tree --- and secrets so dark that that night on the boardwalk comes back to haunt this present generation as well.

Larkin’s fascination with dream analysis grows obsessive. Since her mom had had dreams of fire, her analyses become an engine for the movement of the plot, one that expertly ties together all the various time periods and generations of women in a compelling mystery that will unravel perfectly over your summer beach vacation.

Like the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, the friendship between the original trio sets the tone for the later discoveries. Dreams from the cusp of adulthood turn into dangerous events that transform lives for the worse, generation to generation. Karen White is known as a historical fiction writer, and this novel is laced with interesting details from the 1950s that give resonant color and texture to these lives. Like the hazy colors of a scallop-edged family photo in a musty album, DREAMS OF FALLING offers a look into family in a way that readers can understand completely and then, just as suddenly, not at all.

White’s touch with the exposure of the mystery, the details of that night on the boardwalk, and the ways in which they shape the contours of Larkin’s life in the present day is sharp and tactile. Breezes are blowing, the surf falls in on itself, and readers can easily feel the slats of the boardwalk shift under their feet as White imbues the tale with so many sensations. DREAMS OF FALLING is a beautiful and moving summer novel that will take you away, truly, from your everyday woes, whether you vacation or staycation this summer.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on June 8, 2018

Dreams of Falling
by Karen White

  • Publication Date: April 16, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0451488431
  • ISBN-13: 9780451488435