The Whole Thing Together – Ann Brashares

What a fascinating family, and what a doozy of an ending. I felt invested in every single child’s story equally, and was happy to move from one perspective to another.

Synopsis

We live in the same place, but never together.

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.

Review

What a fascinating family, and what a doozy of an ending. I felt invested in every single child’s story equally, and was happy to move from one perspective to another.

Except maybe Quinn. I didn’t really care for her “heritage” arc; her fascination with where she came from (although I guess we are all fascinated by where we come from). Her interest in her Bengali roots was cool, but felt like a personality quirk more than anything else. I also wasn’t particularly enamoured by her whole “look into their soul” persona. I guess I should’ve expected a stunt like what happened to her at the end of it all, but it still felt like a cheap plot point. In my mind, she was the least interesting sibling. She was boring and too good and idealized throughout, so you can’t feel anything for her at the end except exactly what you’re “supposed” to feel. Quinn needs more personality!

I loved Emma’s story. Jamie was so, so good. Don’t we all deserve a Jamie? I’m glad with where they ended up, and I love the insight into Jamie’s family. We all have our family troubles, I guess. Nothing is ever that simple. But what was with that ending? Is Jamie’s family the problem? Or was she pregnant?

Let’s talk about Mattie’s story. I loved her tremendous growth throughout the book. I liked how her personality caused a life-changing truth to surface, and how that made her re-evaluate everything in her life. And I’m glad with what she concluded, and how her parents responded. Also, I am a huge fan of Matthew Reed (aren’t we all?), and I wanted to see them fall hopelessly in love. Can we please get an “after-the-hail-storm” epilogue?

Sasha and Ray’s stories are absolutely intertwined. It’s so interesting to see everyone wake up about them. Themselves first, at the party. Then Quinn. Then Emma and Mattie. But what about everyone else? They have a foundation unlike anyone I’ve ever heard of in real life, or in books or the media for that matter. A common history binds us all together, but not quite as intimately as the shared history between these two. I wish we got to see a bit MORE than what we got, but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

At the end of the day, I think the situation that occurred was the only possible way for Lila and Robert to lay arms. I can’t help but feel like I wanted something else (something mind-blowing!), to come from Ann Brashares, because it felt like the most obvious answer. Also, there were a few inconsistencies (e.g. Ray calling his father “Adam” instead of “Dad” near the end of the book), but with such a complicated family, those issues wasn’t detrimental to the book in the grand scheme of things.

Related Reading

  • Sisterhood Everlasting – Ann Brashares
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty (series) – Jenny Han
  • Second Chance Summer – M0rgan Matson
  • Suffer Love – Ashley Herring Blake

Rating: 4/5

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