Book Review: The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello

Title: The Beauty of the Fall

Author: Rich Marcello

Published: 2016

Pages: 358

Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction

Format: Print copy mailed by author in exchange for an honest review

My rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss, Olivia Whitmore, fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.
Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. When Dan returns home with a fully formed vision, he recruits the help of three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.
Guided by Dan’s generative leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?


Review:

Who knew software and start-ups could be so fascinating! Although I don’t have any clue about what goes into creating software, apps, start-ups, technology, etc. I was quickly entranced by the sub-plot as it is a huge part of Dan’s life, which has gained him a lot but also sacrificed several things and people.

Life keeps beating Dan down which reminds us that we have moments when we are at our worst, multiple times over and over. Dan finds the strength to live and deal with pain that at first is self-inflicted or numbing to a degree. Along the way, Dan interacts with significant women in his life (girlfriend/best friend Willow, former boss Olivia, therapist Nessa, prostitute Katie) as well as having conversations with his son, helping to inspire the large project. The women instills in Dan the lack of trust and giving his love as it has pained him before. This story gives way to forgiveness of oneself, allowing ourselves to move on.

The idea of a pilgrimage is wondrous, as suggested by Willow – “a pilgrim is a person who journeys, especially a long distance, to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion, a traveler or wanderer especially in a foreign place, an original settler in a region” (Marcello 44 {Dictionary.com}). Although it doesn’t end up quite the way Dan anticipates, I got the sense of the challenges in the so-called “American Dream” (Detroit water crisis and recent graduates in debt and little experience – even though the latter was made up by hitchhiker, still relevant! I know I am inspired through these conversations on social change and the willingness to be in the depths of it all, including these topics along with sexual assault and domestic violence which is the larger topic of discussion that involves multiple characters.

Overall, an innovative and empathetic story from a simple idea to foster community on the big issues. A blend of science and technology with humanity and social change. How revolutionary would this be? ConversationWorks.

Some quotes to stay with me:

“he asked the question as if being humpty-dumptied was a good thing, almost as if I needed more cracks instead of more love, instead of more work, almost as if I was better off because I fell. What kind of spiritual teacher encourages you to fall and break?” (Marcello 47)

“‘It’s simply another change, one of many that will happen in your life, and in a way, they’re all gifts if you let them soak in.’ True, but doesn’t one’s skin shrivel if he soaks too often” (Marcello 298)

“she’s the one who taught me obstacles are like swings. You can either jump off them at the highest point and go higher, or you can stay on them, and let them hold you back until you no longer have enough momentum to soar” (Marcello 320)


Read The Beauty of the Fall if you like the themes of:

  • Business/Start-ups
  • Loss
  • Family
  • Love
  • Loyalty
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Filed under Book Reviews, reading challenge, Recap, Summary

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