When It Falls Apart
D’Angelos Book 2
June 21st, 2022
When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee has her venturing into a new genre. Instead of suspense this one is a relationship story. Anyone who has an elderly parent will be able to relate to this novel. As parents get older their children must deal with the emotional and physical illnesses. But as with this story, what if the parent was not the supportive or caring type?
This plot is loosely based on Bybee’s own family dynamics. She, as with the main character Brooke, feels the responsible obligation of a child to their parent. Brooke gets a call that her father has been rushed to the hospital. Knowing she must be close to him, she picks up and decides to move to California, leaving behind a relationship that went nowhere in Seattle. After her father recovered, she moved him to an assisted living facility.
After dropping him off, Brooke randomly ends up at a restaurant in San Diego’s Little Italy. Here readers will experience the ocean breeze and smells as well as the tastes and community of Little Italy. At the eatery, she meets the D’Angelo family after saving the child Franny from a mishap. The father Luca, who is also the chef, comes out to thank Brooke. Then Luca’s mother offers to rent her the top floor of the apartment.
Franny, Brooke, and Luca all have something in common. Brooke had a bad mother, no father, and grew up unhappy. Luca lost his wife and Franny lost her mother when she abandoned them.
The D’Angelos become the quintessential Italian American family. They love and support each other and extend it to Brooke. Luca is undeniably drawn to her and becomes very protective, making sure she eats and is there to help her clean out her dad’s condo. Understanding how Franny feels, Brooke becomes her surrogate mother. Through Franny, Luca and Brooke draw closer becoming captivated with each other.
With this story Bybee does not disappoint and makes the genre transition flawlessly. There are heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. It has family love, support, and acceptance intertwined with some romance.
Elise Cooper: You changed genres with this book. Fiction writing versus suspense?
Catherine Bybee: Right now, I want to write what I feel needs to be written. I am always trying to grow as a writer and not be stagnant. But there is a high in writing suspense, especially with a kick-ass character. When writing this type of book, I can look inside myself and realize there are other people that have gone through the same thing.
EC: The book is about a family. Did the relationship with your dad influence this book?
CB: I felt it is time to write about this. I love my father…BUT. I need to take care of him. It is tough. I must find a balance between taking care of him and my quality of life. I will make sure his needs are taken care of and sometimes hang out with him. He was proud of my accomplishments. Up until my dad’s last illness he read every book I had written. The last book he read was Changing the Rules. It took him six months to read, and he could not tell me anything about it. He was losing his cognitive ability to grasp onto things. To love him unconditionally, I need to put boundaries surrounding our relationship.
EC: How much of the father in the book is your father?
CB: 80% because I sugar-coated my dad. Typical of those in the sixties. When the relationship with the mother disappeared, he walked away from the children and never looked back. He was a complete dead-beat dad who I did not meet until I was thirteen years old, like the father in the book. He is very selfish and showed up when he thought it was convenient.
EC: What is based on your dad?
CB: Everyone loved my dad and the dad in the book. But, just as with Brooke the dads rub us the wrong way. My dad was married five times but the father in the book was married four. They both are cantankerous, self-centered, and never took responsibility. The scene in the book is true where my dad did buy a car in the middle of Covid. I also bought him a condo, which he did not take care of, the house was trashed. I did go to the dealer and made sure they stopped charging the monthly payments. The abundance of the coin plastic containers with random change was also true. The letters I had written him were found as with Brooke, where we both looked for acceptance.
EC: How would you describe Brooke?
CB: Loyal, has resentment, dedicated, a good daughter, independent, and feisty. She is unapologetically honest with everyone. She knows and owns her truth, what is right and wrong. Brooke and I have a lot in common. The difference is that she is taking the responsibility for her life earlier than I did. We both step up to the plate and drop everything for our father.
EC: How would you describe Luca?
CB: The perfect hero because he is a good man. She needed to see a man who was a positive role model. He is caring, charming, cautious, and a good listener. He is 100% loyal to his family. His daughter comes first.
EC: How about the relationship?
CB: She gets from him unconditional consideration. They brought out in each other personalities that were oppressed. He helps Brooke to realize that family are not necessarily those you were born into.
EC: What role did the daughter Franny play in all of this?
CB: Innocent child who should have her childhood. There were times in the book Brooke helped her respond to an overwhelming feeling of emotions. She is Franny’s mouth. Brooke identified with her. She plays Brooke at a younger role. They have in common that both were abandoned by a parent. Every child that was abandoned by a parent wants that parent to come back in the worst way. She gave Brooke and Luna a commonality.
EC: What about the Italian culture?
CB: I spent a lot of time in Italy and in San Diego’s Little Italy. The culture is very family based with meals intended to be long, enjoyable, and loud. Food is a big part of the culture. I never had a loyal family like the D’Angelos. It was nice to play into the world of this big, loving structure. They have a community where they keep their traditions and accept everyone into their world. There is a big support system, to be around people they want to identify with.
EC: The ocean played a role in the book?
CB: The ocean is my Zen. San Diego has a brilliant climate and temperature, the ocean breeze. It helps someone center with its tranquility. Mountains and a lake do not do it for me like the ocean does.
EC: Next book?
CB: The next book has Chloe, Luca’s sister, and Dante. The title is Be Your Everything, coming out in November. I am thinking of writing a Richter novella. I would love to volley with suspense and women’s fiction, but I must keep myself focused with one series at a time.