Monday, September 4, 2017

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares | A Book Review

The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares | A Book Review by iamnotabookworm!

This story had me gushing tears while reading this. Good thing, the lights were off. I had to stifle the crying noises I made in order not to embarrassingly wake anyone. I got this from Netgalley. Thank you again, Netgalley. This was an emotional read yet, in a way relieving. It helped me vent out all those emotions built up inside my chest.

This is a story of a blended family. A blended family is a family where the parents divorced and married people who also have children from a previous marriage. Each of the divorced parent also has a kid/s with his/her new partner. In turn, there is a host of step siblings. When these families meet, it's a blend of those individuals. In this story, The Mom and Dad had a very awful and bad divorce. They wanted to not do anything with each other except they had three girls- Emma, Mattie and Quinn, and a beach house which they both can't let go of. So, they agreed to share the house but never seeing each families while there. 

The story centers on two individuals born of the new marriages of the Mom and the Dad. The Mom, Lila, married Adam Riggs and they have a son- Ray Riggs. The Dad, Robert Thomas, married Evie after the divorce and they have a daughter- Sasha Thomas. Ray and Sasha shared a room, books, toys and all other things in the Long Island beach house. There's only one thing wrong with the picture, they have never met or seen each other. And now the question is why and when?

Everything was status quo until the eldest daughter got engaged and the two other sisters decided to throw an engagement party where the two families could meet. The girls saw it as a chance for their irreconcilable parents to finally come to a truce. I think it was a very brilliant idea born of good intentions but children will never know how deep the animosity of their parents toward each other. There are a lot of things they do not know about the divorce. Why their parents ended up hating each other that they decided they can't stand to see each other yet live in the same city. And the most puzzling of all is that they can't seem to let go of the beach house. The reason was later revealed in the story which explained a few things. I think, even though Lila and Robert hated each other, they still wanted to remember the good things and memories they shared, which the beach represents a lot of. 

One of the things that struck me most about the story was the non-relationship between Sasha and Ray. It was so ironic that they shared a lot of things, like toys from their childhood and other things growing up vacationing in the beach house yet, they have never set a glimpse of each other. What they know of each were from the shared items in the shared room and from their shared half-sisters. It was just so appropriate to describe them as half and half. I totally found Emma's idea of them working in the store being half of one person so hilarious, yet possible. Even the store owner agreed to Emma's suggestion. I was so entertained with the email exchanges between Ray and Sasha about  their experiences in the store. The store owner's idea of calling each of them Ray was funny also. I think it would be very cool to actually try this idea of making two people work half of a shift yet you only pay one. 

Now, let's get to the part where I was balling my eyes out. My tear ducts just opened its floodgates and came rushing out. It was the scene of the engagement party. The party which almost did not push through but the girls -Quinn, especially convinced her parents. It was total mayhem. In some way, the girls expected what may happen but they were still shocked when it did. They also thought that maybe once, their parents could let it all out and then give each other the olive branch but it was not meant to be. It was a disaster that was just waiting to happen. But I think the girls were not to be blamed, it was all on their parents. Not only their parents but also the mother of the groom-to-be also had her own issues which also added to the ensuing chaos.

In the end, it all ended well. Something happened to Quinn and it was tragic. I was like, why her? It didn't have to be that way. I thought, somehow the author must have thought of some other way to make the families come together, just not like this. But I guess, it was not for nothing. It paved the way for Lila and Robert to see how bad they were treating each other and now they have to share this agony together. Now, it all seemed trivial, hating each other when something more heavy and permanent is changing their lives. They have no choice but to band together, to help each other get through. This was a very heartbreaking part but I am also thankful that they have learned their lessons though it took a whole lot to happen before they learn to at least temporarily forgive each other. How long that lasts, no one knows, even their daughters are not expecting it to last. Sasha and Ray can now stay in the beach house at the same time and actually interact with each other. Nah, they do not have to share a room anymore.

I give this book 4.5/5 bikes for Quinn who made me cry. This may not be a sequel to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants but the essence of this story is still about sisterhood and family. Yes, it's always true--tragedy brings all people together. Disputes and misunderstanding will become trivial and childish when a more tragic and more devastating loss is experienced. Bittersweet! This story is just one great example. Thank you Ann Brashares, your stories are very profound. I am looking forward to reading more of your stories about family.



Why was it there were some things you could have multiples of, like daughters and sisters, and other things you didn't, like fathers and husbands?

Parallel is right, sadly. Lines that go along forever together and never meet.

- Ann Brashares, The Whole Thing Together -