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The Summer We Fell Apart

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  1,447 Ratings  ·  184 Reviews
“[A] well-crafted and cunning debut novel…a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”
Publishers Weekly

The Summer We Fell Apart by newcomer Robin Antalek is a poignant, funny, and totally engrossing novel of family disasters and sibling rivalry—and it marks the debut of a pitch-perfect new voice in contemporary American fiction. Antalek’s tale of the trials and man
Paperback, 367 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published December 16th 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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Robin Antalek's The Summer We Fell Apart was, quite simply, stunning. Books with multiple narrators typically leave me feeling detached and disjointed as a reader, unable to get close to any one particular character. But not so here, where we learn the quirks and backstories of each Haas child as we travel through time and space with them. In a story that could easily have become horrifying or worse, I never sunk into depression as I followed the kids from New York to California and back. My hea ...more
Beth Peninger
Feb 17, 2011 Beth Peninger rated it it was ok
This book felt incomplete and unfinished on several levels. I don't mind the book being broken up into each of the siblings points of view but each of their parts left me feeling unsatisfied and slightly confused. Without spoling it, it is the story of four siblings and how their lives play out after they are raised by uninterested parents. While they are the definition of dysfunctional as they become adults and grow into their own stories they each find some sort of resolution with their parent ...more
Greg Olear
Jan 17, 2010 Greg Olear rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Robin Antalek's soaring debut concerns the tribulations of the Haas family --- four grown children and their mother--- before, during, and after the death of the failed-playwright patriarch, who was as achingly absent in their childhoods as he is in the novel. The characters are so well drawn, their stories woven together so expertly, that it's hard to believe that this novel grew out of a collection of loosely-affiliated short stories. Also notable is her adroit and effective use of the simples ...more
Apr 15, 2010 Lisa rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this book. But I kept thinking, "I know this story. I've read a book or seen a movie with the exact same plot."

The Haas family was an eight on a scale of ten in Dysfunctional. Both parents were completey self-absorbed and neglected their children unless, for some personal reason, they needed them. Playwright father. Actress mother. Ramshackle house. Tight siblings.

All of the above is true except for the siblings part. Each section of the book was written from the point of
Sep 23, 2016 Shelley rated it did not like it
Shelves: poop-on-toast
Plot, we don't need no stinking plot! Nothing happens in the 300 plus pages of wannabe familial dysfunction. I got duped by the cover and description and regret not pulling the bookmark. This book wants to be about a dysfunctional family, and if you're looking for that story, it ain't this book at all. Five year old kids telling never ending stories about unicorns playing baseball on Jupiter could tell a more interesting one than this. Now I wish I had read a story about baseball playing unicorn ...more
Jan 05, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
I'm really glad that I followed through and finished this book. I had a really hard time getting into it. The book is written from the perspective of 5 different characters, and to be honest - I couldn't stand the first. I didn't like her voice or her story, and I really had to force myself to push through. That being said, it was well worth with it, because once I got past that character, I really got into the book and the other characters and I am very happy that I finished the book. I would r ...more
Jun 25, 2010 Valerie rated it it was amazing
This book was excellent. The characters were interesting and I wanted to keep on reading. Their story was about a very dysfunctional family but not John Irving-crazy which is what made it credible and sympathetic. The different perspective from each family member was well written and wasn't repetitive since it didn't overlap too much. I only wished it'd have a chapter about Myriam.
I have read a lot of novels about dysfunctional families over the years. I have always assumed that there are so many books about unhappy families because as Tolstoy said, “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” And that unique unhappiness makes for a good story.

However, this is the first time I remember reading two stories one right after the other where the father causes so much of the family misery. In The Precious One, the dad seems to be tr
Dec 29, 2011 Neil rated it really liked it
Shelves: a-to-z-project
A to Z Project, Book 16
More like 3.5 stars. Antalek delivers a story about the four children of a self-obsessed playwright and actor whose neglect as children has made them largely dysfunctional adults. The chapters switch in perspective through the four children and their mother, reading more like connected short stories than a novel.

I've been close to families like that in Antalek's book, where dysfunction makes everyone unable to do the right thing in the crucial moment, so I found the book v
Jun 01, 2016 Kari rated it it was amazing
I REALLY loved this story! I always find it interesting to hear the different perspectives from people in the same family and their upbringing, this book delivers and so much more.

Two distant, self-absorbed, artistic parents who only have proof that they can get along four times; their children. As they pursue their theater careers and spend time trying to get even with each other for grown up issues, their children are left to fend for themselves together and apart. Each on battling different d
Susan Becraft
Sep 22, 2015 Susan Becraft rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stunning debut for Robin Antalek

This is a family drama par excellence, and I devoured every word. The book is divided into stories told from the perspective of five members of the Haas family. Sometimes this format can bore me as the mini-stories become repetitious, but Robin Antalek makes it work. The stories are not repetitive. Rather they build on one another to create a complete picture of a most unusual family.

I cannot find enough adjectives to describe the quality of character developmen
Dec 06, 2011 Suka rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2010 Erika rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
The focus starts when 4 siblings all react to their father dying. Most of these siblings aren't close, and the story is told from all 4 points of view, but it picks up where the other left off. There is wonderful character development and just when you start to understand one perspective it's time to read from someone else's view.

If you have brothers or sisters, if you get along or you don't, if your family is close or it isn't, this book is for you. A wonderful tale of a family that wants to p
Feb 22, 2014 Michele rated it really liked it
Shelves: womens-fiction
The book chronicles the teen and adult years of four children who grew up with brilliant but basically absent parents. Part 1 (3 chapters) is told from the perspective of the youngest, Amy. Part 2 (2 chapters) is told from the perspective of the second youngest, George. Part 3 (3 chapters) is told from the perspective of the oldest, Kate. Part 4 (1 chapter) is told from the perspective of the second oldest, Finn. The epilogue is told from the perspective of their mother, Marilyn. What is a littl ...more
May 14, 2010 Lin rated it it was ok
Shelves: my-book-club
Don't bother. This book holds the distinction of being the lowest rated read in the five years my book club has been meeting!

Four children of a dysfunctional family each get a section to tell a part of their story. The first child to speak tells hers in first person narration; the three others' and the mother's sections are third person narration (??). The four children tell different stories -- you don't see the same situation from different perspectives; you see four (five with mom) different
Apr 29, 2011 Jo rated it it was ok
Glass Castle it was not...I left this in a hotel room in Paris. I read it on the plane over and didn't care enough to bring it back home. I agree that the book was well crafted but the story was a little too formulaic. Fiction can go so many ways (spare, wordy, fanciful, baroque, grotesque)unfortunately I wasn't always believing the ways this story went. I wanted to like the characters but found them hopeless and struggling to make sense of their lives, goals, sense of self worth, etc. It was ac ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Julie rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. The cover calls it a novel, but I never find an overarching plot which is really the reason for the missing stars. So it seemed to be a collection of vignettes about each family member. The writing is good, though no real effort is made to adjust for the different point of views. I find the younger siblings sympathetic--I only really liked George's story. Kate and Finn were depressing. It was hard to finish the novel. I read the first chapter a month ago. I finally decided to push thr ...more
Oct 15, 2010 Linda rated it it was ok
Shelves: borrowed
If you're going to do alternate viewpoints, please keep it consistent by deciding at the beginning whether or not you want the book all in first person. This read more like short stories than a novel. It started out pretty good but once a different sibling's story was introduced, it went downhill pretty quickly. And after a while, you get really tired of the whiny, poor-me's in the book. This only got 2 stars because I was able to finish it but it really should only be one. Life's too short for ...more
Jun 10, 2014 Amanda rated it it was ok
I found this book quite difficult to get into; it seemed to jump from time to time (i.e., past to future) without a clear delineation of how much time had passed. I found the first narrator, or point of view focus, Amy, to be bratty and self-centered, so that turned me off. George was by far the most interesting and sympathetic character. However, this just felt more like a mish-mash or hodgepodge of random thoughts thrown together; I understand the cohesive part was supposed to be the dysfuncti ...more
Feb 23, 2011 J rated it did not like it
I love looks into the messed up, but somehow compeling, lives of rich people. This book had all the makings of a great such story.

Unfortunately, it was too graphic and explicit to enjoy. Within the first 15 pages, we have 2 graphic descriptions of breasts. We also have a situation involving 2 brothers and a sister swiming naked in a pond. There is an explicit description of the girl touching her brother's private parts underwater.

I couldn't finish it.
Jun 21, 2016 Sstashower rated it really liked it
My book club is tired of reading about dysfunctional families. Maybe because mine was so incredibly normal, I just can't get enough...or maybe because no family is unscathed, I read to see the variables. I liked the siblings in this story. Their parents -- not so much. The startling thing was how little any one member knew of the others. We readers were the only to get the whole picture. Frustrating, and sad.
Jul 12, 2013 Ann rated it it was ok
An easy summer beach read, I was drawn into the story quickly. However, I felt as though the last two sections were fairly thin, and not as well fleshed out as the first three...I wound up at the end of the book feeling as though I didn't know the whole story. It wasn't a waste of my time to read it, but I definitely felt the author herself fell apart in the storytelling by the end of the book.
Jun 02, 2010 Nicole rated it did not like it
The characters in this book were total stereotypes of the four "roles" children of neglectful, self-absorbed parents would chose to play: the oldest became a type-A control freak, the youngest became an angry artist, the middle two sons became an alcoholic and a lonely caretaker. None of the characters are interesting, all are one-note. When the narrative steered towards the gay teacher deciding to sleep with one of his student's fathers, I was done. I don't want to read about that.
Jan 16, 2012 Gina rated it it was ok
The most moving part of this entire book was the lemon tree on the front cover. The characters themselves were of no interest and by the end, I still couldn't figure out what the summer was when they fell apart. One brother was gay and there were quite a few sexual scenes in which an uptight person would be offended, but his story was honestly the most interesting of the four. Best advice? Admire the pretty cover and move on to something more interesting.
Sep 04, 2010 Eden rated it did not like it
This book is just awful; it needed a lot more editing before being published, and the timeline jumps/ill-advised structure were nearly impossible to follow. Had the author taken more time introducing the reader to the characters, I might have cared more; because she didn't, I couldn't relate to any of them in the least. The book just sort of ended with no conclusion. I would have put it down during the first part ("Amy") had I not been away on vacation with a limited number of books.
Jun 30, 2010 Lindsay rated it it was ok
Ehh, mediocre. No real plot to this one, something I don;t like in a book. It was based more on emotional merit than anything else. Again, not something I really care for in a book, I don't really enjoy reading a book about the feelings of fictional characters. Give the book a plot, and that's different. But this one didn't have a plot.
Mar 12, 2010 Marian rated it it was ok
Shelves: could-not-finish
Oooo I was so disappointed with this book. I tried to like it, I really did, but I disliked all the characters and thought the author emphasized things that didn't matter and the writing seemed clunky to me. Other folks on here loved it, so maybe it's just me . . . I got so frustrated I decided not to even finish it.
Jill Gann mccloughan
Jun 07, 2015 Jill Gann mccloughan rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this book but it was just too slow & so dang boring. It was like I had to force myself to finish it. I'm no quitter so I kept reading with an open mind but never could grasp it. The ending was terrible and actually seemed like I must be missing some pages. I'm relieved it's over.
Jun 08, 2015 Linda rated it it was ok
2.5 rounded down. I love me a good sibling saga, but I'm not sure what to make of this. The premise was interesting: the story of a family told from the points of view of the four siblings, but after Amy told her story, the POV went omniscient. Antalek didn't stick to her plan. I wonder if the book would have felt less disjointed if she had.
Mar 05, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was ok
Meh. Just another novel about a dysfunctional American family. I found nothing special about this book - the writing was okay, the metaphors heavy handed (like when Kate hacked down the rotten lemon tree - give me a break), the characters were predictable stereotypes and I cared about none of them.
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My second novel, THE GROWN UPS, will be published by William Morrow in January of 2015. It's the story of a group of friends over many years and what they mean to each other. It's about family, about love, about disappointment and heartache. It's about celebrating the small triumphs in life and hanging in there for those you love. It's about longing to be grown up - and then finding out what it re ...more
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