Title: The Whole Thing Together, Author: Ann Brashares, Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Trigger warning: divorce, major character death, Publication date: April 25th 2017, Rating: /5
Ann Brashares new book is set in the family summer beach house in the Hamptons. It once used to belong to Lila, that was married to Robert, who now owns the house. In the divorce they settled to share the house, on the condition to never be in it at the same time. Lila and Robert both remarry and have Ray (by Lila) and Sasha(by Robert). For lack of more rooms in the massive Hamptons villa, they are forced to share a room that is both theirs but never at the same time. Ray and Sasha also share a job and three older sisters from before the divorce – Emma, Quinn, and Mattie.
The complete separation changes when Emma becomes engaged and the sisters plan an engagement party in the house to be attended by both families. The road there isn’t pretty and it takes a lot from both Sasha, Ray, and the three sisters. It perfectly displayed how I believe my future wedding/engagement party will be. Although my parents aren’t that crazy, my stepparents are, and I couldn’t help but picture them as Robert and Lila.
The perspective of the divorce and families focus mainly on Sasha and Ray’s experience which I enjoyed a lot. It is so odd to see how much a divorce can effect the children that can come after and it has brought me closer to my sisters from my mum and dad.
The book deals with many themes simultaneously; family tension, adoption, and love. It shows every characters own perspectives on each of the themes resulting in a variety of opinions to be represented. Robert is originally from Bangladesh but was a war baby that was consequently adopted by a middle class white couple in America. How he views his adoption and family dynamic is wholly different from how his daughters see it. Quinn feels very in tune with her blood heritage and the struggle between being who you were raised and being what you look like is beautifully handled. As a child of immigrant parents that grew up in a Swedish environment I could partially identify. I felt “Swedish” and acted “Swedish” but I didn’t look it and weren’t treated in that way either. It’s a very interesting topic to explore further and was, in my opinion, appropriately handled.
Although great it was very short, there were a lot of characters that were underdeveloped. I wanted to see more of the sisters and learn more about the family issue. You can guess the reason for the divorce but it is never explained and it didn’t offer any other information. The family dynamic also took a while to understand and I’m still not sure how they split up the time at the beach house.
Now to the juicy stuff. Nah, I’m not spoiler warning this shit because despite being such a great work of YA Contemporary it still get’s a 2 star rating from me because of the fucking incest. What went through Brashare’s mind? Is she a child of divorce? My sisters, although not blood related and rarely in contact, are still SISTERS! It did my head in to no end… I’m so disappointed by this mess that ruined the book. If Robert couldn’t stand Quinn getting a nose ring, I cannot imagine how he would react to this. I really hope he whoops both their asses…
Thank you to Netgalley for my free copy!