Kate Rockland – Falling Is Like This
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Release Date: May 11th, 2010
Forget a man in uniform. I like my guys with gratuitous tattoos, some well-placed facial piercings, and perhaps a guitar in hand. Yeah, you caught my weakness. I won’t deny that I’ve got a thing for boys in bands, but I suppose the question is, who doesn’t? Yet, most of us girls (or boys) will simply admire from afar, just listening to the music piped through our overloaded iPods into car and bedroom stereos.
Harper Rostov, however, has other plans.
A Jersey girl living in New York City, Harper has just broken up with longtime boyfriend Andy and makes a trek down to her indie coffee shop of choice, Mud. Who should she run into there but Nick Cavallaro, guitarist for her favorite Jersey punk band, Hitchhiker’s Revenge. After an introduction that includes Harper making the charmingly quirky comment, “That sweater isn’t very punk rock, you know,” the duo delves into a whirlwind week of punk rock, New York landmarks, sex, and alcohol driven by the nonstop motion of the city.
With this first release, Kate Rockland has brought together an oddball cast of characters that enlivens yet another tale of rock-inspired love in the city that never sleeps. Think Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for a slightly older audience; one that indulges in Bad Religion instead of Vampire Weekend.
Harper Rostov is an aspiring music journalist who just so happens to stumble upon her ultimate rockstar crush after quitting her job at US Weekly. Typical enough character, in spite of her apparent wit and charm. Yet, it’s her offbeat family who add that bit of je ne sais quoi to the story. Harper’s mother is a sex therapist (Meet The Fockers, anyone?) who makes some notably tactless comments in regards to a relative’s newborn baby – “Hideous looking, isn’t he? He’s inherited his mother’s huge forehead.” Meanwhile, this leading lady tokes it up in the backyard with her dad on occasion – “a tradition to smoke and talk and talk and smoke.” Nevermind the fact that her sister Lauren is battling with depression. Oh, and let’s throw in a delusional homeless woman who streaks through the neighborhood, using flower beds and bushes as her own personal toilet. It’s an eclectic, lively group of characters, but almost too much so. The characters are almost too outlandish to take serious, proving to be more like caricatures of people than living, breathing human beings.
And don't you doubt any lack of musical references throughout this story. The onslaught of various band names in the story’s beginnings is almost overwhelming. It seems to come off as an excuse to throw one’s own, expansive musical background into the text – Dillinger Escape Plan, Black Flag, Johnny Cash, and No Doubt among countless others. It’s one thing to outline the text with a backing soundtrack, particularly when set in the punk scene of New York City, but to throw in conversational mention to band after band just becomes a bit too much. Oh, and did I mention there’s a Rivers Cuomo cameo or two? Because there is.
This isn’t to say it’s a bad book, because it really isn’t. It’s rock-oriented chick lit, built on a city of a heavy rock ‘n’ roll history, told through coffee cups and leather jackets, Coney Island and stolen motorcycles. It’s the story a lot of girls wish they could live, myself included, though the overwhelmingly quick pace at which everything moves has me questioning its relatability. Regardless, it's a fun, fast-paced tale of potential love with a true rock star of a guy in the heart of New York City's Alphabet City.
If you’re in for a fun, just-for-the-hell-of-it read, feel free to pick up Kate Rockland’s Falling Is Like This. Follow Harper as she comes to discover the real Nick Cavallaro while, of course, finding herself as well.