A Soft Place to Land

A Soft Place to Land

A Novel

  • reading group guide
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 Julia, are shocked by the provisions in their will…not the least of which is that they are to be separated.

Spanning nearly two decades, the sisters’ journeys take them from their familiar home in Atlanta to sophisticated bohemian San Francisco, a mountain town in Virginia, the campus of Berkeley, and lofts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As they heal from loss, search for love, and begin careers, their sisterhood, once an oasis, becomes complicated by resentment, anger, and jealousy. It seems as though the echoes of their parents’ deaths will never stop reverberating—until another shocking accident changes everything once again.
Choose a format:
  • Touchstone | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416558699 | 
  • April 2010
List Price $14.99
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Video

Susan Rebecca White discusses her novel A SOFT PLACE TO LAND

The new novel from Susan Rebecca White, author of Bound South and rising star of New South fiction.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

In the months following the accident Ruthie and Julia imagined and discussed the last days of their parents’ lives so often it was almost as if the girls had been there, had accompanied them on the trip out west. Except of course they had not. That had been the whole point of Phil and Naomi’s vacation.

Their plane crashed at approximately 3:00 P.M. on Wednesday, March 24, 1993, during the girls’ spring break from the Coventry School, where Ruthie was in seventh grade, Julia a sophomore. Most of the well-to-do families from Coventry, which is to say most of the families, were taking vacations... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for A Soft Place to Land includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Susan Rebecca White. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.



Introduction

After their parents are killed in a plane crash, half sisters Ruthie, thirteen, and Julia, sixteen, are shocked to learn of the instructions left in the will. These tight-knit sisters, who grew up in the shadow of their parent’s romance, will be sent from their Atlanta hometown to separate coasts, to live with very different families.

Cautious Ruthie adjusts to a new life with her generous, fun-loving aunt and uncle in San Francisco, but rebellious Julia struggles against the conventionality of her birth father and disapproving stepmom in a small town in Virginia. The vast differences in their new lives strain the sisters’ relationship to the breaking point, and they drift in (but mostly out) of each other’s orbits for the next twenty years, until an unexpected turn of events brings them together again.



Discussion Questions

1. Why do Ruthie and Julia so obsessively imagine their parents’ ill-fated Vegas vacation and the see more

About the Author

Susan Rebecca White
Photograph by Dorothy O'Connor

Susan Rebecca White

Susan Rebecca White is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Bound South and A Soft Place to Land. Born and raised in Atlanta, she spent many years in San Francisco before returning to her hometown, where she teaches creative writing at Emory University. Visit her online at SusanRebeccaWhite.com.

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