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The Summer We Fell Apart: A Novel

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  1,089 ratings  ·  159 reviews
The children of a once-brilliant playwright and a struggling actress, the four Haas siblings grew up in chaos—raised in an environment composed of neglect and glamour in equal measure. When their father dies, they must depend on their intense but fragile bond to remember what it means to be family despite years of anger and hurt. These brothers and sisters are painfully hu ...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published December 16th 2009)
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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
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
Greg Olear
Jan 17, 2010 Greg Olear rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Beth Peninger
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
I enjoyed this book but it wasn't the best. It wasn't one of my favorites. The book was good from the very beginning, but the thing is, there was nothing in the book to really captivate me. I felt like nothing really happened in the book, because the characters perspectives and narrators were switched so often that not one particular character was exceptionally described nor their personality flushed out. I won't read this book again, and it wasn't really that memorable. I wouldn't recommend it ...more
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
I enjoyed the way this story was told - five characters (four siblings and their mother) and their five points of view. It almost gave it a feel as if they were five loosely related stories - but in the end I think the stories were so well-blended and ran so fluidly from one to the next that I couldn't classify it as a compilation of short stories.

The characters Ms. Antalek riddles these pages with will become your friends. You will laugh and shed tears with them. Their stories will make you fal
John Scharf
Robin Antalek's debut novel, The Summer We Fell Apart, is well written, honest and has deep, complex characters. The Haas family story is told by all four childrens' point of view and their emotionally-vacant mother.

Summary: Four young adult siblings find themselves struggling emotionally in their relationships and with each other. When their estranged father dies, they're thrown together to arrange his funeral and are forced to interact with each other, confronting deep-seeded resentments and t
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As the novel opens, the father, a playwright, has moved out and is galavanting about Europe with his mistress; Finn has just returned home from Europe after confronting his father, about the mistress; Kate is in Florence, teaching; Amy is fascinated and frustrated with the lovely Miriam, an aquaintence of her father's, who has been sent to live with the family as an exchange student, and George, Amy's close confident, may or may not be coming out. Marilyn, the mother, is a stage actress who wear ...more
Colleen Oakes
: Have you ever seen yourself through someone else's eyes? Perhaps through a picture or an audio recording? It's alarming and jarring. We have an idea of who we are in our heads, and it's always strange to learn otherwise. That's the premise behind The Summer We Fell Apart - it's an intimate look at four siblings and their mother. Each sibling has three chapters each, and they all interact within each of the chapters. For example: The first three chapters are from Amy's perspective. She feels ab ...more
As I started reading this book from the POV of Amy, one of four siblings in this story I really didn't like how the story was written {each sibling, plus their mom has several chapters told from their POV}or the basic story itself, but as I moved onto George, Kate, Finn {the other siblings} and lastly their mom, I felt myself being drawn into this sometime graphic and sad storyline. Got to the point that I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next....if I ...more
J.D. Spero
Was sorry to see it end. Beautiful writing that completely enveloped me. I pulled up a chair to the Haas table and joined the family with my whole heart, and felt for every one of those siblings. I have questions about the final chapter, about the mother...and would love to read an entire book about my favorite character, George. Thank you, Ms. Antalek. I'm so looking forward to more from you!
I was a little worried at first - it took me a while to get into this book, but I ultimately did, and thoroughly enjoyed the read. It is told from the perspective of five different family members, which makes it really fun and interesting. I found myself relating to one sibling in particular, and thinking about my own family dynamics - therapeutic and entertaining at the same time!
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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
I'd give it 3.5 if I could. It was entertaining, but a bit cliche by the end, as if the author ran out of steam. I think I wanted to like it more than I did... But it was an easy (if somewhat depressing) summer read. Amy and George were my favorites.
Pretty decent read. A story of 4 siblings and their non-traditional childhood and how it manifests in their adult lives. My only major complaint is that I feel like the characters are written to have no redeemable qualities and the ending is a bit flimsy. As in, the entire book is spent with this huge disconnect between the children and their mother and that is apparently all gone suddenly at the end.

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A strong 3.5 stars for this family dysfunction novel. My 7 year old asked what the book is about and I told her it was about a family where the parents didn't love their children so the kids grew up all screwed up. A short explanation but that pretty much is what it was, with sections of the book told by each of the 4 kids. Unlike some shifting view point books, instead of switching narrators from chapter to chapter, this had sequential sections told by each of the siblings, which each moved for ...more
Read this in under 24 hours. I would then declare this an easy, but enjoyable read. I loved how the author told every major character's own story. I wanted to hear more from George. I could read an entire book on him!
I read this book and on the same day watched "Everybody's Fine" the movie. It was interesting to compare two families with four siblings who have one distant parent left. This book succeeded in making me really care about all the siblings and even wonder how the mother could ignore four kids. The movie did not. The only character I felt for was the dad and I felt sadness and depression. The kids in the movie seemed so remote and self involved and the lying was so ridiculous! Anyway, all I want t ...more
I really enjoyed this book. I felt it was "real". Meaning; not everything in life is perfect and happy. I think every family has it's ups and downs and this book told a great story of this.
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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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