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Review: Reunion by Hannah Pittard

Book Summary

The author of the highly acclaimed The Fates Will Find Their Way returns with a novel about a far-flung family reunited for one weekend by their father's death.

Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly failed wife with scarcely a hundred dollars to her name, learns that her estranged father has killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she gives in to her siblings' request that she join them, along with her many half-siblings and most of her father's five former wives, in Atlanta, their birthplace, for a final farewell.

Written with huge heart and bracing wit, REUNION takes place over the following four days, as family secrets are revealed, personal foibles are exposed, and Kate-an inveterate liar looking for a way to come clean-slowly begins to acknowledge the overwhelming similarities between herself and the man she never thought she'd claim as an influence, much less a father. Hannah Pittard's "engaging and vigorous"* prose masterfully illuminates the problems that can divide modern families—and the ties that prove impossible to break. (*Chicago Tribune)

Review

Hannah Pittard’s Reunion centers on a troubled young woman, the more or less “failed” screenwriter, Kate Pulaski, and her equally troubled family. Not only does Pittard write with uncanny insight into the mind of a woman who is savagely human, and equal parts frustrating as well as deeply familiar, she also brings a special sense of honest humor to the idea of family

While on a flight home to Chicago, Kate receives the call that her estranged father has killed himself. Due to a marriage that is quickly crumbling, as well as pressure, she is forced to travel home to Atlanta, in order to meet her brother and sister and manage the many intricacies that come with a death. And she’s not happy about it. 

The novel takes place over four days. The pacing is fast, it’s written in present tense, and the dialogue is remarkable. Pittard’s writing is candid, and doesn’t shy away from portraying her protagonist in a bad light. Kate is our sympathetic anti-hero: a liar, a wine-drinker, a whip-smart, self-destructive woman with some major daddy issues. Throughout the novel, Kate grapples with a deep-seated resentment towards her father. After her own mother died, he remarried approximately five times, giving Kate and her two siblings a plethora of ex-stepmothers and step-siblings. The last of his wives, Sasha, proves to be a surprising and altogether healing influence. 

The awkwardness and inescapable quality of family is a main theme throughout. The idea of fidelity is another. There is a sense of urgency in this slim story that in infectious and strangely heart-warming, in the way only an honest portrayal of humanness can be.

Reviewed by MB Sellers

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (October 7, 2014)

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