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A Soft Place to Land

3.16  ·  Rating details ·  5,321 ratings  ·  810 reviews
From the award-winning author of Bound South comes a powerful, moving novel of family loss and sisterly redemption.

For more than ten years, Naomi and Phil Harrison enjoyed a marriage of heady romance, tempered only by the needs of their children. But on a vacation alone, the couple perishes in a flight over the Grand Canyon. After the funeral, their daughters, Ruthie and J
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 6th 2010 by Atria Books (first published April 4th 2010)
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Average rating 3.16  · 
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 ·  5,321 ratings  ·  810 reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Well, I liked the first half of the book and I love the cover of the book, but then I just didn't like it any more.

There were just too many things and not what I was thinking at all.

I know a lot of people like this book and some just don't, unfortunately I wasn't into it but I'm glad so many others could love it =) That's the whole point of reading, finding books we love.

Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was interested in the premise of the book about what happens when two young sisters in their teens suddenly lose their parents in a plane crash. Julia and Ruthie are half sisters, and after their parents' death, Julia is sent to live with her biological father and evangelical-Christian step mother, while Ruthie is sent to live with a loving aunt and uncle in San Francisco.

The beginning of the book, when the parents first die, has a depth of detail (at times I almost wondered whether it was to
Aug 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't. It had so many things wrong with it.

There isn't a lot of character development, so I felt like I never got to know any of the characters other than maybe Ruthie, since she was narrating.

Also, the story was SO disjointed. It jumped all around, from time to time and place to place, and there wasn't a lot of continuity to it. I thought it was going to be about the two sisters, and how they dealt with the aftermath of their parents' death -- but tha
Jul 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2010
I bought this book because Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help, had a little recommendation blurb for it on the cover. Well, it turns out Kathryn can write a good book, but not necessarily identify one. Perhaps she was friends with the author and doing her a favor or something.

Kathryn indicated that this would be an excellent book club pick, suggesting that it was somehow thought-provoking or discussion-worthy. It was not. It was just the story of a relationship between two sisters.

Now, maybe
Aug 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: year-2012, chick-lit, hate
This book showed so much promise in the first 50, but alas fell short for me in a lot of ways.

The characters of Ruthie and Julia are initially so interesting, as they bond on the death of their parents, you peek a bit into their souls and their relationship with one another. But instantly the story begins to jump around. Things happen, but then they're over - on to the next. Yet is there any fall out from these incidents? They seem like bombshells, yet the author glosses over them time and time
Feb 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
This was the first in a series of new books that I read one after the other that dealt with the loss of family members and relationships with siblings and honestly, it was the one I liked the least. In fact, I've put off writing this review because I almost felt bad for not liking the book.

In the most straightforward of terms: did not like, or relate to, any character in the book. I'm not saying that I have to relate to every character that I read but I do want to have some sort of emotional co
A few thing to note:

1. There was a throwaway line about a dead kitten at the end. I WAS UPSET.
2. This is one of the books with misleading summary. The book is almost entirely from the POV of just one of the sisters, so it felt like HER book, not a book about both of them. Not a bad thing--in fact, I kind of like the choice to have it told from the POV of the less troubled sister, but not what I expected.
3. It just kind of . . . ended. (view spoiler)
Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
A Soft Place to Land tells the story of two half-sisters who struggle to cope with two different realities after their mother Naomi, and (step) father, Phil, are killed in a plane crash. Ruthie, the younger sister, is sent to live with an aunt and uncle in San Francisco while the Julia, the older one, is sent to live in Virginia with her real father and his wife.

The book starts off slow, despite the manufactured drama of the plane crash that took Naomi’s and Phil’s lives. The sisters are 13 and
Chelsea Cripps
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
There were things I really loved about this novel, this story of two sisters and the irrevocable changes wrought in their lives after their parents are killed in a plane crash when the girls are in their early teens. I enjoyed the way that White weaves reality so seamlessly into her story. The book follows Ruthie and Julia throughout their lives, and since the characters were born around the same time I was, I found it really amusing to note the details she pulls out to enhance different moments ...more
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Naomi and Phil Harrison die in a terrible plane crash while vacationing leaving behind two teenaged daugthers, Ruthie and Julia. Once the will is read, the half-sisters realize they will be separated with one moving to San Francisco and one to a town in Virginia. The girls try to navigate their ways through the loss of their parents and each other while trying to define themselves as individuals. Resentment and anger threaten to tear the
Miki Garrison
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
I tremendously enjoyed this book. The story of the two half-sisters from Atlanta who are separated after their parents' death in a plane crash -- Julia to her father and "evil stepmother" in small-town Virginia, and Ruthie to her aunt and uncle in San Francisco -- builds an incredibly vivid picture of the evolving relationship between the girls as their lives are changed by the events around them and they grow into young adulthood.

I will say that I found the back-cover copy (which is also the "p
Judy D Collins
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was my first book by Susan Rebecca White! I enjoyed, as always reading about the South since a native, having lived in Atlanta for many years. I look forward to White's new book, A Place at the Table. Two half-sisters from Atlanta who are separated after their parents’ death in a plane crash, having lived with other relatives. If you have a sister, you will love it!

For more than ten years, Naomi and Phil Harrison enjoyed a marriage of heady romance, tempered only by the needs of their chil
Jun 28, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There's an old rule in writing: the characters, especially the protagonist, have to want something. I didn't know what these sisters wanted. Yes, they had something terrible happen to them with the death of their parents and their subsequent separation. But the story just felt like it was going through the motions. I never connected with either sister and certainly didn't empathize with them. I think that maybe if the story had focused on one period of the sisters' lives (either the immediate af ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it liked it
"A Soft Place to Land" is not one of those books that will stay on my mind for long after finishing, but I enjoyed reading it. I found it to be a very realistic portrayal of the relationship between two sisters, Ruthie and Julia, who tragically lose their parents at a young age. The book follows the girls from childhood into adulthood and shows how their experiences over the years change them as well as change their relationship with one another. I thought the author did an excellent job of char ...more
May 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
What I learned this week:
1. Everyone's out to make money. So even if the person selling you a book at a yard sale for a quarter will lie to you and tell you how great it is.
2. When traveling, bring more than one book, especially if you haven't started one yet. Nothing sucks more than reading a book you don't like because it's the only one you have.
3. Even if you're not afraid to fly, don't read about about a plane crash on a plane.

Didn't really enjoy this book. It had a lot of potential, but all
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005-2009
Ok, so I bought this book at Target yesterday and I finished it tonight. No, I didn't ignore my kids for 2 days...I really liked this book....a lot. The ending was better than expected and made me tear up...I recommend this book...I don't think you'll be disappointed!

As a side note, I didn't and still don't like the title of the book and almost didn't buy it because of the title....never judge a book by it's cover, right?
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I was fairly disappointed in this book. It was decent enough that I kept with it to see how it would play out, but it never seemed to get off the ground for me. I felt like the characters never really pulled me in enough and it always felt like something was missing. One of my biggest issues with the book was that so many controversial topics were brought in that it felt a bit overwhelming. A couple topics might have added to the overall plot, but I felt like too many just weighted down what cou ...more
Sarah Piper
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Really good ... but not quite what I was expecting from the summary.

I think I related to a lot of the feelings and reactions from losing my own mother and the strange relationship with my half-brothers that resulted in the aftermath. We certainly all went our separate ways and yet deep down always know that you're there for family.

Interesting take on the relationship and love of siblings.

Only wish it would have ended with Ruthie telling her sister or Gabe that she was ready to start a family
Mar 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
I kept trying to like it, trying to appreciate the story. Right up to the very end, which was disappointing. I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? At least give us something exciting in the whole damn book, in the letters from Naomi after all those years. But no, nothing. Just like the rest of the book, just barely giving me enough to keep reading, and forever being disappointed.
Paul Pessolano
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Susan Rebecca White is a native Atlantan and teaches writing at Emory University. Last year she authored the novel "Bound South" which has received literary acclaim. It was a novel based in Atlanta that gave a true look at Atlanta as it gained status as a major city in the late 1990's.

"a soft place to land" also has its beginnings in Atlanta, moving to San Francisco, and returning to Atlanta.

Ruthie and Julia are sisters growing up in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. They are going to private sch
Jan 03, 2013 rated it liked it
I liked this novel a lot but I can't give it more than 3 stars because it fell apart during part III and never recovered its initial steam.

I still couldn't put it down. She's a lovely story and it's a captivating tale of two siblings who suffer a traumatic indicent that leaves them in very different places physically, emotionally, and mentally.

From the get go I loved both Ruthie and Julia and saw them as dual narrators, even if Ruthie got more talk time. However, that completely deteriorated a
Sara Edgell
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was an intriguing book in the beginning... until the shift was made into the last phase of Ruthie's life. I was very disappointed in how the book ended, although, I do appreciate the story that the author is telling. The complexities of the sisters' individual lives on top of a strained, broken sisterly relationship makes for a great story. I was interested, invested. Clearly there needed to be some sort of closure, some sort of fix for the pair. Ruthie and Julia's relationship was so dynam ...more
Apr 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
I thought the premise of the book was interesting -- two sisters lose both parents in a plane crash and, by the terms of their parents' will, are each to go live with different relatives far away from each other. The sisters are close, and being away from each other is awful. The situations in which they are brought up are so different that, when they do get to see each other, they have a hard time relating and their relationship begins to unravel.

I had many problems with this book. First, I ha
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book as a break from my still unfinished novel of the summer (almost 1000 pages into a 1500 page book) because I needed a quick read. It didn't disappoint. The story is the bond of sisters who by virtue of their parents accidental death - not a spoiler, it's on the back jacket - are sent to live with different relatives because of a poorly thought out will. The novel takes them from the first days after they learn about their parents where they grieve & console each other throug ...more
Apr 29, 2010 rated it really liked it love them, you hate them, and then you love them again...that's the way it seems to go as you grow up. Once you're all grown, you just love each other, and come to realize they are some of the best friends you'll ever have (in my opinion at least!)

Sisters Julia and Ruthie love the life they lead in Atlanta with their parents Naomi and Phil Harrison. They are half-sisters, sharing the same mother, but different fathers. Their world dissolves around them when their parents are killed
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book about sisters tugged on my heartstrings. I was "ugly crying" by page 100 and I was sobbing my eyes out by page 125. After that, the plotting went in a different direction and I was able to get a grip on my emotions. I did cry again at the very end, but it was not an ugly or sobbing cry.

Sisters of all ages will find something to relate to as the two main characters struggle to find their way in the world after being torn apart by a tragedy. I was a bit disappointed with the abrupt end
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Read this book with the Bookclub. It was Ok. I felt like the writer did not have an outline for the finale of the book, wrote to the point of the characters in college and then made up the rest of it in a big hurry to finish. It builds and builds and builds and then it is over. If there was a climax, it was anti-climatic and the resolution was weak. I found the adult (post college) Ruthie one dimensional and the post college Gabe as sad glimmer of what was the best character in the book. The ear ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels
A friend passed this on to me and told me it was good... I'm wondering now if she's mad at me! I read the whole thing hoping it would turn a corner and start getting interesting (also because was the only book I brought with me on a trip) but it never did, and the end was completely disappointing. The author loaded each page with little details about what people were wearing and which coffee shop was on the corner of which street.... blah, blah, blah, and then left unaddressed the substantial qu ...more
Jul 15, 2014 rated it liked it
This book was interesting and kept my attention throughout the story because these are the types of books I really like - concentrating on family relationships.

For some reason though, I had my heart set on a really heart-stirring book that would make me cry. I really didn't connect with the characters on a level that would make me cry, so that was a let down.

A good book, but to me, not amazing.
Feb 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
White captures the shared closeness and deep wounds that can exist between sisters very well. No one understands your family like your sisters do. I felt that the end of the book could have been developed more thoroughly, but ultimately I enjoyed the book a lot. Now I'll send it to my sister. :O)
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Susan Rebecca White is the author of four novels: Bound South, A Soft Place to Land, A Place at the Table, and the forthcoming We Are All Good People Here, which will be published by Atria / Simon & Schuster on August 6, 2019. A graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at Hollins University, Susan has taught creative writing at Hollins, Emory, SCAD, and Mercer University, where she was the ...more

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