Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Book Review | The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

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. 

*I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

I'm usually a fan of Ann Brashares. I've read and enjoyed the Sisterhood books and The Here and Now. While I wouldn't count her as one of my favorite writers, she's always been an author I'll pick up the new book and I usually enjoy it.
This book, I had issues with, which was really disappointing because I was pretty excited by the premise. So I'm going to start with the positive points and then go into my negatives.
I did like that it wasn't entirely predictable, there were actually some parts which really shocked me.
There were some well-written emotional scenes, although I did take issue with some of the emotion, which I'll discuss further later.
The premise was great, it had me excited to read it and I liked the title.
For the negatives, there are a few more.
The characters, and I mean all of the characters, felt underdeveloped. You never really got to know any of them, which really bothered me. Even Sasha and Ray, who were supposedly meant to be the main characters, never really got any depth to them. Making it hard to root for them.
The narrative felt really choppy and hard to follow. There were too many perspectives. I would have loved to of seen this book simply from Ray and Sasha's points of view, which would have allowed their characters to get more depth.
Following on from this, I really felt like Ray and Sasha needed to be focused on a lot more. They were meant to be the main characters and love interests, yet you barely got to know them or see much of their relationship develop. Not only did we not get to know them, it seemed like they didn't know each other either, yet the book plays it off that they get really close/fall for each other. This being over the course of meeting a couple of times, where they hardly speak. Granted there are some emails between them, but never really about much and definitely not getting to know each other enough to end up where they wound up.
The emotion. I said I'd touch on this again from the negative point of view and this is it, there were moments that were emotional, but sort of unnecessary. It seemed completely out of the blue and kind of emotion for emotion's sake. I think there were better ways to inject emotion into the story, which would have worked better.
The ending also seemed really rushed and almost unfinished, which was really disappointing.
Overall I enjoyed the premise and think it had great potential. The characters were just ok and needed more depth. The whole book needed more fleshing out and fewer perspectives.
It just wasn't the book for me.


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