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The story itself wasn’t very good in my opinion but amazon delivery and the purchasing experience was a good one. To me, it felt so slow even though the book is quite short. At a certain point for me it started to feel creepy and to be honest it is a little bit... 2 people who have never met but are pretty much step siblings communicate through notes they leave at a house they both live in at different times of the year... it was very weird and quite boring.
I was one of the thousands of readers enraptured by the Sisterhood books, stories which evoked -- as few ever have -- the mix of terror, joy, ambivalence, and expectation that characterizes the lives of teenaged girls. Though it's been years since I read the books, I still remember how they engaged my heart: Ann Brashares got it. And so I was excited to read The Whole Thing Together, wondering what new territory Brashares had chosen to plumb. And severely disappointed that I cannot give her latest effort a better review.
One of the overarching themes of the book is that family relationships are complex and dynamic. Yes, they are. And I've had friends whose parents have been married a few times and thus they have an assortment of siblings, half-sibs, step-sibs, and no-sibs that no one could keep straight. In real life, we usually just refer to them as brothers and sisters, but categories are important in this book, and thus I had to keep reminding myself which child belonged to which marriage and how everyone was connected. And when I finally had them all sorted, a new family -- from another marriage that had not previously been mentioned -- was thrown into the mix.
Some key elements of the book are not credible, for example, the fact that the no-sibs (each is a half-sib to the same trio of sisters, but unrelated to each other) don't meet until their late teenaged years, even though they've been sharing the same bedroom on alternate weeks. You can guess where that subplot is leading.
Another subplot focuses on the three sisters, each following her own path, all seemingly oblivious to a family secret that should be smacking them in the face. (Sister #1 graduated from Princeton; she can't be stupid.)
There's the requisite tragedy, borne of the "hurt your characters" school of writing, a device that leads to yet another set of improbable occurrences.
Some of the writing is over-the-top, a trait I'd expect in a novice, not a seasoned writer.
"Sometimes she imagined the days of the calendar were a series of doorframes leading from one chamber to the next. Quinn wasn't walking through the doorframes. She wasn't even in the building."
"Mattie was sitting with her phone on her lap behind the counter under the shade of the oaks bunching cilantro..."
After about five passes, I understood that the oaks were not doing a thing to the cilantro but rather than Mattie was dividing cilantro into bunches.
"...the air inside so pressurized by indignation the whole thing could blow like a special effect in a Vin Diesel movie."
Please tell me she didn't write that.
There are some good bits, like the engagement party, one of the few scenes that felt authentic and was also entertaining. But overall, a weak effort from a writer that is only too capable of hitting home runs
3.0 out of 5 starsThe Whole Thing Together: I Liked This One, But Didn't Love It
Reviewed in the United States on 27 March 2017
I really enjoyed Brashares' Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, but have not had as much luck with her stand alone novels. This is also true for The Whole Thing Together. Although I didn't love this book (if I could give a half star rating, it would get 3.5 stars for me), there are still some things about the story that I enjoyed.
Sasha and Ray have a strange sort of relationship. Sasha's dad was once married to Ray's mom and they have three step-sisters in common. However, Sasha and Ray have never met. During the summer they share a beach house, but one family leaves an hour before the other family arrives. Now as teenagers the two are more curious about each other than ever. And they are curious about what would happen if their parents were in the same room together.
I loved the premise of this novel. And I enjoyed finding out what happened to cause such bitter feelings to exist between these adults who decades later still do not talk and can't stand the sigh of each other.
The stepsisters add a lot to this story as well as we find out more about them.
The hardest part of this story was determining whose story was being told as it seemed to shift without really much warning. This felt a little bit like Judy Blume's Summer Sisters to me, and captured what it feels like to have a beach house and a whole different place to call home during the summer.