The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

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I recieved a copy of this from netgalley for an honest review. My opinions are my own though.

Goodreads

Synopsis

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.

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Thoughts

Sit back, this is another doozie. I’ll start with writing related stuff and move slowly to stuff that I just wasn’t here for. Ann Brashares wrote one of my favorite middle grade series. One that really helped make me as a person and that I still cherish to this day. But by 20% in to this novel I was bored, disgruntled and grossed out. I did finish it for review purposes though. First off this story was written in third person omniscient point of view. Which on it’s own isn’t enough to make me hate a book. There tends to be more jumping around as the narrator follows different character’s. But I can handle it. For this particular novel though it made it come off as an adult family drama rather than a YA contemporary romance. The reader is continually flipping back and forth between all the siblings and not getting enough of Ray and Sasha. Now if you like family dramas then by all means please pick this up. Personally I was a little bored.

I feel like the character’s really like dimension. By telling everyone’s story instead of one or two characters we lost precious time and these children seem to be lacking personality. They were flat and could be summed up in a phrase or two. Emma was your typical rich girl. Matty was your girly girl who was redefining herself. Quinn was your manic pixie dream girl. Sasha was the studious one and Ray was the fumbling awkward kid. Come on guys! Give me something.

My next issue has to deal with representation. This book has a diverse cast. The father is from Bangladesh and was adopted. His children are obviously half Indian. While I am not from India and can’t give you specifics, I will say that a lot of the dialogue about the father’s Indian heritage bothered me. And the way the characters presented themselves. It didn’t feel like a diverse cast. Just like white people pretending to be cultured. The father refused to recognize that he was Indian. He was so obsessed with being well off and rebuked his daughter Quinn when she tried to embrace the culture. It wasn’t discussed as part of his lifestyle or affecting him. He would rather pretend to be a white christian. (Yes he says that)

There was also A LOT of focus on people’s bodies. And not in a positive way. Emma tells her sister Matty she can’t wear a dress because its too slutty. Matty hears her fathering saying he saved a huge sum of money for the youngest Sasha to go to law school one day. Matty asks what he saved money for her for and he replies, “To get you a dress that actually covers your ass.” WHAT?!?! Every single character describes people in terms of “modesty” “hott legs” “so fat her belly hangs over her jeans”. It was horrifying. I know that society can tend to zone in on people’s outer appearance. But I would have liked to see some correcting of this behavior. Instead it was made to seem normal and  alright.

Which brings me to my next issue. The parents were cruel. To their children and to each other. I understand that you had a horrible breakup but learn to be an adult. And at the very least do not bring your kids into it. Emma, at the beginning of the story, is hiding she has a boyfriend because she knows her mom will make a big deal out of the fact that the boyfriend works for her father at his firm. And guess what? When the mom finds out she flips out. “Your father put you up to this? It’ll never last you know! You probably don’t even care about him.” She says this IN FRONT OF said boyfriend. Yep. The father is so obsessed with proving that he is part of the american upper class and showing that he came out of the divorce better that he takes credit for his daughter at her engagement party. He is rude when people try and talk about his heritage. And he generally savors Sasha over his other three children. Like who let these people be parents?!? And multiple times too! I just don’t get it.

Ok now this last issue is a personal one that has more to do with the story that Ann chose to tell. Basically this is about two blended families. There once was a happy couple who had three children then divorced. Upon remarriage to other people both couples had a baby at the same time. So Sasha and Ray aren’t siblings by blood. But since their parents take turns using the beach house every other week these two have shared a room, shower, bed, toys, ect. In the beginning when Ray was wondering about Sasha all I could think was “Why?” Like I get it that your mom and her dad do NOT get along so you’ve never actually met her. But you’re sharing stuff. She has slept in your sheets. Just email her and be friends. Why is this a big deal? Then they develop a romantic interest. And I’m sorry but this made me want to vomit. They are basically step siblings!! It was weird!! I really struggled to wrap my mind around this one and I’m still not really okay with it.

Overall

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This story really wasn’t working out for me personally between being grossed out by Ray & Sasha and then the language used to talk about the female body I just wasn’t having it. If this is something you think you can overlook and you are always down for a good family drama then I recommend you pick this book up. It comes out April 25th for public consumption.

I hope you guys are having a love day!

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2 thoughts on “The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

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