The Whole Thing Together
Author: Ann Brashares
Publication: April 25th, 2017
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Format: e-ARC, 304 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Read: April 2017
I received an e-ARC of this book from Random House Children’s and Delacorte Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Summer for Sasha and Ray means the sprawling old house on Long Island. Since they were children, they’ve shared almost everything—reading the same books, running down the same sandy footpaths to the beach, eating peaches from the same market, laughing around the same sun-soaked dining table. Even sleeping in the same bed, on the very same worn cotton sheets. But they’ve never met.
Sasha’s dad was once married to Ray’s mom, and together they had three daughters: Emma, the perfectionist; Mattie, the beauty; and Quinn, the favorite. But the marriage crumbled and the bitterness lingered. Now there are two new families—and neither one will give up the beach house that holds the memories, happy and sad, of summers past.
The choices we make come back to haunt us; the effect on our destinies ripples out of our control…or does it? This summer, the lives of Sasha, Ray, and their siblings intersect in ways none of them ever dreamed, in a novel about family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love.
Plot – 1.5 out of 5 stars
So much disappointment guys. This book doesn’t really have a linear plot, it’s all about the drama of the family that we’re reading about, that’s it. It was slow, boring and didn’t feel like a YA book at all since two thirds of the main characters were adults. There’s girl hate, an unnecessary and kind of gross romance as well as racism and sexism. Just a mess.
Writing Style – 2 out of 5 stars
The narrative style of this book was really jarring and confusing. It’s third person omniscient with multiple point of views but no real distinction between any of the voices. It was unnecessarily flowery and it dragged. It was hard to keep every character straight and the narrative was almost impersonal, I couldn’t connect to any of the protagonists.
Characters – 2 out of 5 stars
This is the first time that I’ve ever been in a complete blank in this section when writing down my thoughts after reading. There’s no life to any of these characters and no characteristics that stands them out in my mind as complex and multidimensional individuals.
The synopsis mentions two protagonists, Ray and Sasha, but there are actually three more protagonists, their siblings: Emma, Quinn and Matty. All of them are just bland characters. They are almost cardboard cutouts and stereotypical personalities. None of them feel like real people. In fact, I can’t really say anything beyond this about them. I sat for half an hour trying to come up with specific things about their personalities that set them apart from each other but there was nothing there. It didn’t help make the book any more entertaining specially since characters are a huge part of what makes books for me.
I really wanted to be blown away by this book, I had such high expectations specially from such a seasoned author, but it was just awful.
The plot was boring. The story is really hard to explain so I suggest reading the synopsis above before reading the rest of this review. The book is about a kind of blended family whose relationship with each other will change this summer. I don’t even know how to start this review to be honest with you guys. I had really high expectations and the story seemed like such a great premise and it felt like it had a lot of potential and it was a massive let down. Starting with the writing style which was slow and really confusing. There are five different points of views in this book, none of which are designated with a name or anything once you’ve switched to their perspective. The narrative is third person omniscient but none of them were distinct. There was a lot of flowery descriptions and kind of poetic language but that was true for every single one of the characters so every time the POV changed, it took me awhile to catch my bearings and to know where I was. Which made it really annoying to read since they changed quite a few times within each chapter. It was just constant confusion. There was no real plot here, just a whole bunch of family drama, that’s never fully explained, and the day to day lives of these people. There’s a lot of separation and anger in the way the families are in their relationships with each other and it was almost way too over the top. So much drama and while this could be classified as a family drama book, it was way too much in my opinion. There was a lot of potential to explore some important themes like identity and self-acceptance and forgiveness. But this potential was completely ruined by body shaming, girl hate, sexism, racism and a weak resolution. Between the girl protagonists and side characters there was a lot of judgement and hate between them which is unnecessary. The father in this book is from Bangladesh but is someone who rejects that part of his heritage since he was adopted by a Canadian family at a young age and there’s a lot of derogatory and sometimes harmful descriptions of the biracial main characters. There’s also some sexism in the way that one of the main characters thinks about other girls and it’s just really distasteful. The resolution left a really bad taste in my mouth as well. It felt unnecessary and kind of disappointing. I don’t think you need to have a horrible tragedy happen in your life to get your shit together and to act like a respectful human being to the people in your life. If you’d like to look at evidence of the problematic aspects that I’m talking about here, there’s this review which has quotes from the ARC which is what I also read.
I don’t know what to say about the characters. I tend to want to write a whole paragraph about the characters and my thoughts on their personalities and attitudes. But I can’t say anything that I haven’t already. They are all bland, stereotypical and I can’t really tell you anything special about any of them. There’s no redeeming qualities, nothing that I can really think of.
One of my problems with this book is also the romance. It wasn’t needed at all whatsoever and it was also kind of weird. Ray and Sasha are not related which is stated constantly in the book, they just have half-siblings in common. They have shared a room in a summer home for their entire lives and everything that comes with that room. The bed, the closet, the bathroom, the bookshelves, everything and this has created a very peculiar connection. It was almost worse than instalove because their connection is established before they even met and then their romance developed in about three to five in person conversations and just a few email exchanges. It made me uncomfortable and weird and I didn’t understand what they really saw in each other. I just think it was something that was added because it’s a YA contemporary and not because it made any sense to the actual story.
Overall, I was really disappointed in this book. When I first heard of it, it was one that I was really looking forward to but it definitely didn’t live up to my expectations. There’s a lot of problematic aspects throughout the book and the potential that this book as was totally ruined by the focus on the drama between the family and that’s it. The characters are all boring, bland and one dimensional and I don’t remember anything about them that makes them stand out. I didn’t like this book at all.
So that’s it for this post! I would love to know if you guys have read this book or not. I feel like this author has a lot of high regard in the YA community because of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series but this book was really bad. I’ve always wanted to read the latter but I don’t think I’ll be giving it a try now because this book left a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!