Welcome to our stop on THE WHOLE THING TOGETHER blog tour!
* This title was provided in exchange for an honest review. Spoiler free.
As a fan of Ann Brashares‘ previous work (hello, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!), I went into The Whole Thing Together with high expectations. While the book certainly had Brashares’ flair for emotional intensity, it unfortunately failed to meet my expectations on multiple fronts.
The story follows an entire family with a complex history and complicated relationships. It puts a spotlight on Ray and Sasha, each children of their respective divorced parents who grew up going back and forth between the same room in a beach house. Through this they build a unique (albeit admittedly strange) connection and build versions of the other through their limited communication.
Because the book attempts to cover the myriad characters of the entire family, descriptors fell flat and I was often unable to keep track of the siblings. Emma, Mattie, and Quinn intermittently stole the book’s focus, but I felt their individual stories were too underdeveloped for me to understand any of them well. Their introductions felt sudden and confusing, and more like distractions from what should have been a more central plotline. I had a hard time understanding the family tree.
Ray and Sasha’s characters felt more dimensional, their connection more interesting, and I wished the story would have stayed focused on them. Their various means of correspondence and thoughts about one another took a new look at human connection and relationships. Trying to keep track of the entire family in the meantime took some enjoyment out of reading.
The premise of the book itself lends itself to plenty of drama and page turning possibilities, but it spreads itself thin in doing so. I appreciated the characters’ diversity, but the representation felt interjected at random moments rather than consistent or well-explored. The backstory of the divorced parents was one of my favorite parts of the novel, but again, I felt it lacked proper attention or depth, and left me wanting more details.
I do enjoy Ann Brashares’ worldbuilding and descriptive, poignant writing style. The novel is consistent in that sense — I enjoyed reading character descriptions, as well as the more reflective moments of the book. Brashares has a talent for dialogue that feels intentional and realistic. While the structure of the story felt confusing and rushed, her writing style was a consistently pleasant read.
Family, love, and tragedy are universal topics that The Whole Thing Together juggles, and the book provides lots of room for discussion, whether positive or negative. That being said, the book has a definite summer-read feel to it. I could see it being an easy read for a day at the beach or, if you’re like me, snuggled up on the couch with pajamas and an iced coffee.
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
The Whole Thing Together is out on April 25, 2017. You can pre-order it via Amazon.
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.
Follow the blog tour:
March 20: Bookhounds YA
March 21: Butter My Books
March 22: Here’s to Happy Endings
March 23: Fiction Fare
March 24: A Midsummer Night’s Read
March 27: Emily Reads Everything
March 28: In Wonderland
March 29: The Reader Bee
March 30: Books, Music, And All Things Written
March 31: YA Book Nerd
April 3: Peace Love Books
April 4: Tales of the Ravenous Reader
April 5: Sarah’s Nightstand
April 6: Novel Ink
April 7: Fangirlish
April 10: The Fandom
April 11: Liz & Lisa
April 12: Gidget Girl Reading
April 13: Art, Books, & Coffee
April 14: Leslie Lindsay
April 17: Swoony Boys Podcast
April 18: Ramblings of the Perpetual New Girl
April 19: YA Wednesdays
April 21: I’d So Rather Be Reading
April 22: Adventures in YA Publishing
April 24: Adventures in YA Publishing
April 25: A Dream Within A Dream
April 26: Lost in Literature
Ann Brashares is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, The Here and Now,
3 Willows, The Last Summer (of You & Me), and My Name Is Memory. She lives in New York City with her family. Visit Ann’s website at AnnBrashares.com and follow on Twitter @AnnBrashares.