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The Whole Thing Together by Ann Brashares

The Whole Thing Together

by Ann Brashares

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Imagine, if you will, a divorce so acrimonious that the divorcees no longer can be in the same room with each other. Add to that second marriages and a child from each of those, in addition to the three children from the initial marriage. The childrens’ relationships to each other are complicated.


One more wrinkle, a shared second home purchased by wife 1’s father but saved from foreclosure by husband 1. Every weekend is a transition from one family to the next, with only the first three daughters staying the whole time. Again, never the twain shall meet.

Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, has written a unique book, touching on many of the issues surrounding divorce and second marriages, the primary being divorced spouses avoiding each other at all costs and the impact on all the children and their relationships to each other. There are subplots which enhance the story and which I’ll let you discover for yourselves.

The issues raised in this book are probably not uncommon among divorced families. The habitation of a second home may be unusual but it does not detract from the issues raised. Brashares takes both a serious and a humorous look at divorce. I expected something more light and fluffy from Ms. Brashares and was pleasantly surprised by The Whole Thing Together.

While I’d consider Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants to be more ‘chick lit’, The Whole Thing Together is much more substantial. I’d definitely go for this one. You won’t be disappointed. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Jun 9, 2017 |
Evidently Ann Brashares is a very popular author. This is my first book and sorry to say I couldn’t get invested with the characters or their internal struggles. Since she receives such high marks perhaps I will try another of her books unless she only writes young adult fiction. Maybe that was my problem with this book, I didn’t know it was young adult fiction or I wouldn’t have requested it.

There were far too many characters to keep up. I should have had a clue about that when a family tree was highlighted in the front of the book. By the way, the family tree involves multiple marriages and children and step parents and step siblings….see, that’s confusing.

The seventeen-year old characters, Ray and Sasha, have one parent in common and while they have shared closet space at the beach house, they never meet early in life. They are never at the beach house at the same time because their parents hate each other. The mother is definitely not a sympathetic character.

Anyway, Ray and Sasha aren’t related, except as step siblings…I think….but the implied romance between them seems wrong. Maybe I am the only reader who felt uncomfortable with that romantic relationship that develops – it’s not incest but it feels like it when reading.

I did like this quote:

"Why did parents ever make their kids watch them get re-married? Ray imagined a coffee table book suited to a photographer like maybe Diane Arbus for publication around Halloween: Children Watching Their Parents Marry People Who Aren't Their Parents."

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions, nice and no-so-nice are my own :-) ( )
  SquirrelHead | May 31, 2017 |
“The Whole Thing Together”
Written by Ann Brashares
Review written by Diana Iozzia

This fictional novel about complicated families, summer romances, and discovering selves was a really interesting read, from one of my favorite childhood writers. (Maybe this makes me a little biased, but it has been a solid 5-7 years since I’ve read one of her books).
A couple who’ve had three daughters together goes through a very ugly divorce. Mom marries new man, has a boy with him. There are two sons from new man’s previous marriage. Dad marries new woman, has a daughter. 17 years later, we begin reading about one unforgettable summer. Mattie is interested in a boy. Emma and Jamie are hiding their relationship from their father (original couple’s father.) Quinn is a free spirit. Sasha and Ray (the two youngest in the clan who are not technically related) share a strange bond, because the two families share the original beach house, switching off every other week.
Lots of events are kick-started this summer. Some happy, some confusing, and some sad. Although the family is very confusing to understand at first, who’s whose daughter or son, who’s stepmom is whose. Lord almighty.
I really enjoyed this book, read this in about a total of five hours, I’d say 3 hours yesterday, two today. A very easy young adult read with no sexual content, no illegal content, but like I said, some sad events. I feel that every character is relatable, but I really enjoyed Emma and Jamie’s storyline the best, second with Sasha and Ray’s. I could easily see this book having a sequel or a third novel later on. Lots of interesting characters and plot lines that I could imagine be very interesting to read on about.
1. Confusing family tree, but there is a slight diagram at the front of the book. Had to bookmark that!
2. Mattie’s storyline is subpar.
3. The resolution to most of the plotlines feel very rushed and a bit forgettable.
4. Sasha and Ray’s bond/relationship/story line seems very pushed on the cover, but it’s not the main plot. I feel that all of the plots coincide well, and none of them stands out as the most important, but the description speaks differently.

I received this as a complementary advanced reading copy from the site, Blogging for Books. Thank you. ( )
  dianaiozzia | May 12, 2017 |
I liked this story a lot. When I requested this book, I didn't realize that the author had written the Traveling Pants books. I didn't read them, but I did see the movies. After I requested the book, was approved, sat down to read it, saw her earlier books, I was all set for a great read. I was not disappointed at all.

This was definitely a very dysfunctional family. Three daughters were born to Robert and Lila. One daughter was born to Robert and Evie. One son was born to Lila and Adam. Together Robert and Lila shared a beach house. They took turns weekly sharing this beach house. Sasha and Ray who shared the three sisters, but weren't related, also shared a bedroom. You got all that?

Robert and Lila did not divorce amicably. They fought over every little detail. When the switch came to change families at the beach house, there was a time lag to make sure they didn't see each other. Also Robert and Evie did not sleep in the same bedroom as Lila and Adam. They each had their own separate bedrooms. When the older three shared children graduated, the families made sure they were on opposite sides of the auditorium. Sasha and Ray were 17 years old and had never seen each other. That's how determined Robert and Lila were to keep the families separated.

That being said, this was a great book portraying a lot from the eyes of Ray and how he dealt with this life. A story of irrational and immature parents, tragedy, family dysfunctions and sibling love that I truly enjoyed and did not want to leave. I really felt for the characters especially the younger ones who were being denied sharing a bond just because they were not blood relatives.

This is a book that will stay with you long after finishing the last page and leave you wanting more.

Thanks to Random House Children's for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  debkrenzer | Apr 7, 2017 |
As the child of parents who divorced bitterly and acrimoniously when I was young – and who have barely spoken since – I could very much relate to the children in “The Whole Thing Together”. I remember that speech – that “we still love you and this will end up being better for all of us” speech that divorcing parents give their children – and I feel the same way now that I did then. That things will be better for the parents, the kids? Too bad.

“Why was it the people who had no beef suffered the most? Like all slow are terrible wars, it was fought and borne by those who had no grievance, the most innocent enduring the worst. Because we are the ones who want peace among the grown-ups, and they still want war.”

This novel is a combination of two storylines. One, a story of two teenagers – Sasha and Ray – who share half-sisters and a vacation home – yet who have never met. Each has a vision of the other, and in that which they share, they form a completely unspoken relationship. The book starts with that being the strongest storyline – and it was once that prompted me to choose the book – but did not hold my interest. It was clearly trying to lead from a “what if two people so connected had never met” to a “what if two people who had never met fell in love” – but there was far too much going on for me to keep track. With the two sides of a family sharing the same house, but at different times and with the characters not really finding clear, separate voices until much farther info the book – I honestly couldn’t keep track of who was where and which sister was which.

But gradually the book transitions to focus more on WHY Ray and Sasha haven’t met (the hatred between the divorced parents) and the possibility that they might finally do so – under the most extreme circumstances (the warring parents being in the same place again after decades of silence).

“And what about their parents? Would they stand in the same room? Would they listen to each other’s voices? Would they shake hands? Would the world allow for that?”

I remember many years after the divorce – sitting in the same room with my parents and feeling that same thing. That this was simply not possible – these two people just couldn’t be existing in the same place at the same time – that my worlds were colliding.

And in the end, the book becomes about love after all. About love, and regret and grief. About some small, miraculous joy that comes from heart wrenching sadness. About learning far too late the consequences of one’s words and actions, but trying to find a way forward that makes those sacrifices worthwhile.

“These were the days she would later be sorry not to have appreciated. She tried to induce appreciation, mentally getting it firing like an outboard motor. It was a hard thing to will. Was it even possible to see beauty in the present at it came at you? Or did it require a dose of time and loss and maybe a little pain?”

“The Whole Thing Together” ended up being a very moving and very relatable book and the words and feelings of those children impacted by their parents’ divorce will stay with me. ( )
  karieh | Mar 16, 2017 |
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