Review: The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

Thursday, May 25, 2017
Title: The Whole Thing Together
Author: Ann Brashares
Genre: contemporary
Series: N/A
Pages: 304
Published: April 25 2017
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5

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.

A breakdown of this story in two seconds: A large, modern family of half siblings and stepsiblings share a house and their divorced, bitter parents - awkwardness and worse ensues. Told over the course of a pivotal summer for the youngest nonrelated kids Ray and Sasha, The Whole Thing Together is the convoluted story of how of the Stone-Thomases and the Riggs-Thomas family relate and recognize one another. Despite plenty of fodder for emotion and pathos there was more drama than substance to this novel. There was very little memorable about it -- except for the sadly notable fact that this modern family is interracially mixed.

Brashares has written several novels before, and before her style was brisk, engaging, fresh and occasionally bittersweet. With her newest effort, little remains the same; the emotions and characters are clumsily-drawn. Despite a strong first two opening chapters, the momentum and interest stall early on. The Whole Thing Together clocks in at supposedly 304 pages. I say "supposedly" because the very many characters in this contemporary novel had a way of making those three hundred pages feel rather more like five hundred. Tiresome characters are paired with pedestrian plotlines that eventually intersect with a cheap plot points; for the last 2/3 of the novel it's a struggle to stay involved or care about the revolving cast of narrators.

Also Ray's weird fantasies and thoughts about Sasha, and vice versa, though his are far more squicky ("She was the kind of pretty only someone as deep as him understood. [...] He continued to think it anyway, as though her loveliness was something he'd invented.")* , are not cool and totally ruin any family-feels the book tries to create between camps. I get they are not biologically related to one other, but they share siblings. It's weird... and also disappointing. Which is basically how I would sum up The Whole Thing Together anyway.

*quote from an ARC and subject to change


  1. I love when an author can capture family dynamics, so I can imagine how disappointing it was to have a book about family not be successful there. I read The Here and Now by Brashares and had issues with the characters in that as well. Sounds like she just might not be an author who's writing style I enjoy.

  2. Even though I've stayed away from the majority of Brashares non-Pants books, this one seemed intriguing to me but... nevermind. hahaha


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.