Synopsis

Mary and Ross were in Rome on a junior-year-abroad program when they had their baby, Natassia, who was conceived on a dare: “Do it with no birth control,” another couple challenged. “We’ll do it if you do it.”

From the first days the baby was out of her body, Mary treated Natassia like a foreign-exchange student, someone who was purportedly interesting but who, in truth, was merely skirting the edges of the real business of Mary’s life. What Mary needed to do was get back to dancing seriously again.

Mary and Ross are unmarried, ambitious and way too young, and, though smitten with their daughter, they eventually abdicate responsibility to Ross’s parents, who raise Natassia in their intellectually stimulating (and seemingly loving) Manhattan apartment. Fifteen years later, 1989, Mary has just ended her world-class modern dance career; Ross is a physician far off in the Pacific Northwest; Natassia, an Honors student and a violin player, is thriving. Until the breakup of her mysterious romance with a man she will not identify. Then Natassia descends into a series of self-destructive acts, and her parents, grandparents and even her godparents—Nora and Christopher—must come together to save her. A dancer, a doctor, two book editors, a painter and a psychotherapist—all are forced to turn away from and also draw from the creative and intellectual endeavors that consume and define them. Struggling to buoy Natassia, her guardians sink along with her into their own deepest darkness.

Mary, a Korean War orphan, must learn from step one how to provide the mother love she herself never received. Ross, still in love with Mary after ten years’ separation, must face the consequences of his obsessions. And Nora and Christopher, burdened by a decades-old secret, use desperate measures to save Natassia—and their marriage.

Spanning the nine months of Natassia’s collapse and recovery, exploring the blurred lines between love that heals and sex that harms, Falling In Love with Natassia follows Natassia and the adults who love her as they journey toward accountability for—and forgiveness of—the powerful mysteries that have shaped their lives.