I'd bought a copy when it was originally released, but it was one of the many victims of my final semester of undergrad. "I never read this, and now I have to move it home...grumble grumble it better be worth it." Thankfully, it was worth hauling it 1,600 miles home across country, because it is a beautiful and heart-wrenching novel. Tornadoes had been in the news right before I started Falling to Earth, which was the push I needed to start reading. Southwood describes a tornado that decimates Marah, Illinois, a fictional town but a storm based on the Tri-State tornado. One family is lucky, maybe a little too lucky. The family business, a lumberyard, survives the storm and all of the young children were home sick from school that day, avoiding the total destruction of the school house and death of many of their peers. The poor Graves family, it only gets worse. Lumber is necessary to rebuild the town, and the Graves' lumberyard is the only place to go. Their house is fine, though the houses of their neighbors are not, and the grief and destruction that the Graves have somehow missed becomes their own undoing. Neighbors begin to shun them, to suspect that, while no one can control a tornado, something is amiss. The slow implosion of a family and community in the midst of a natural disaster becomes the keen focus of Southwood's concise writing. Each character is fully realized, and the final tragedy that the Graves family faces an astute reader can predict. Instead of a train wreck, though, the emotional investment in these characters is heightened as the reader tries to find any way for this sturdy Mid-Western family to survive. Falling to Earth is well crafted, poignant, and an incredibly literary portrayal of a community in crisis.