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The Whole Thing Together

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We live in the same place, but never together.

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.

293 pages, Hardcover

First published April 25, 2017

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About the author

Ann Brashares

80 books4,767 followers
Ann Brashares grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with three brothers and attended a Quaker school in the D.C. area called Sidwell Friends. She studied Philosophy at Barnard College, part of Columbia University in New York City. Expecting to continue studying philosophy in graduate school, Ann took a year off after college to work as an editor, hoping to save money for school. Loving her job, she never went to graduate school, and instead, remained in New York City and worked as an editor for many years. Ann made the transition from editor to full-time writer with her first novel, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Ann and her husband live with their three children in New York.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 899 reviews
Profile Image for Mia.
201 reviews48 followers
July 29, 2022
Rating: 1.5 stars

Alright, buckle up kids. This review is gonna be long, and it's gonna be intense. Needless to say, I had major issues with this book, and I need to get some of these negative feelings out.

First, I want to start by giving a general warning that most of my review will be addressing the fact that this book displayed almost blatant sexism, body-shaming of all sorts, stereotyping, and some racism. If that's not something that you're up for reading, I understand. It's heavy stuff. But I also think it's something that I have a responsibility to point out and discuss when I see it, because this kind of stuff has no business being written in a YA book in the 21st century. I was completely shocked to even see it in this book, and in such a repetitive, overt way no less.

Okay, now onto the nitty-gritty. This book follows two families (technically one) over the course of a summer that forever-alters their relationship with each other. Honestly, you'll save yourself a lot of confusion if you just read the synopsis. It would take me a lot of extra time to explain the intricate family tree that this story surrounds, and I would probably do a poor job of it. So I'm just going to dive right in. The two "main" characters of this novel are Sasha and Ray, but the book is written in third person omniscient, so we really get the perspectives and story lines of Sasha, Ray, and their three sisters Emma, Quinn, and Mattie. If it sounds like a lot just from the description, that's because it was a lot to keep up with. And it got fairly confusing. The changing focus was tedious and overall, poorly done.

These characters are some of the most stale and cheap, stereotypical rich people I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. They can all be sufficiently described in one word, as the synopsis so clearly does for the three sisters. Every single character, including the minor ones, were cardboard cut outs. They each had a total of maybe three personality traits, and had exactly no depth to them whatsoever. I felt like I was watching some crappy teenage television show that never got renewed for a second season. I couldn't relate to a single character, and I couldn't care less what happened to them. They just weren't real in any way that I could connect with.

The overall premise of this book held real potential, which I think is why I have such passionate feelings towards it now. I wanted it to be really good, and I sort of expected that to some degree. But instead I got a really bad Hallmark show that didn't even give me a sense of guilty pleasure that makes Hallmark movies fun to watch. The idea of a multi-faceted, crazy, and complex family could have been really fun to read about. Not to mention, it's a biracial family, which immediately gave me tons of hope for this book from the beginning.

But, it didn't take more than 50 pages before that hope came crashing back down. Although I fully appreciate the diverse representation, and am grateful that it was even included, it was just poorly written. To put it brashly, this whole book just sounded like it was written by a white person (which obviously it was). The attempts at describing the effects of racial discrimination against Indians in America was half-baked and trivial. Instead of being a real plot point and aspect of development for any of the characters, it was thrown in at random points and made to seem highly insignificant. Additionally, (and this part I am slightly unsure of myself, so please feel free to correct me if my assumptions are wrong), there is a tad bit of racial stereotyping. Robert, who is native to India but was adopted and raised by American parents, is a super smart tech genius. Now, maybe I'm reading too much into this, but it seems to me like the author could've given him any professional career besides the one that Indian Americans are stereotyped for being involved with. Again, please correct me if I'm wrong, but that - in addition to Robert completely ignoring his origin culture throughout the book - just seemed a little too generalized and somewhat racist to me. Sort of like if she had written an Asian character who coincidentally worked at a nail salon, and didn't actually display any characteristics of being Asian.

While the biracial characters and the Indian representation were more subtle in their disappointments, there was one scene in the book (pretty much just one particular line of dialogue) that was completely and utterly offensive. It took me a full 10 minutes or so to get past it and keep reading, just because it was so disrespectful. The scene surrounds Emma, Mattie, and Sasha as they go dress-shopping for a family event. Emma has been repeatedly scolding Mattie and Sasha for picking out dresses that are too "revealing" and "sleezy" (so yes, there's slut-shaming galore in this book). Now that I've set the context a bit, I'll just put the quote here for you to read:

Emma pulled a bunch of things and brought them to the dressing room. Sasha took a navy-blue-and-white-striped maxidress to humor her. "Does it come with a burqa?" Mattie asked through the curtain.

Yes, you read that correctly. Weeks after reading this book, I still can't believe this was included in the book. It's severely disrespectful towards Muslim women in every way possible, and completely disregards any cultural and religious significance that the burqa holds. It's just yet another example of white people using ethnicity and religion as the brunt of their ignorant jokes. Frankly, it's disgusting, and since I read an ARC copy of this book, I'm hoping that the publisher seriously considers removing that piece of dialogue from the final print.

While that scene was just one isolated example of discrimination, this book is riddled with hideous slut-shaming and body-shaming towards women of all types. It not only includes the annoying "she's not like other girls" trope, but promotes sexism and rape culture as well. I'll provide just a handful of examples for you:

"She was a dark, humble contrast to her towering, spike-heeled friend. He saw boys' heads swivel and gawk at the friend as the pair went by, but his shuffly girl was the actual beauty, her lovely body hidden under modest clothes. She was the kind of pretty only someone as deep as him understood."

So somehow the more "modest" girl is the "real" beauty, while the one in more revealing clothing is trashy and unappealing? Somehow beauty is now defined by how long/short your skirt is or how tall your shoes are? It's these kinds of tropes and slut-shaming that is detrimental to women everywhere, and pits us against each other instead of lifting each other up.

"Leaving the party, Ray's mind was full and his eyes were absent. The elevator doors opened, a cluster of people pushed in, and suddenly he was standing behind her, less than a foot away. He smelled her hair before he saw her. The smell made him dizzy. It took a shortcut to a part of his brain that didn't deal in words. He didn't mean to look down at her chest, but what could he do?"

This section, almost above all other examples of sexism in this book, pissed me off royally . So right after we read the slut-shaming viewpoint that Ray has, we get to read this prime excerpt of him pervertedly staring down Sasha's dress. This is a direct example of the "boys will be boys" attitude that results in the normalization of rape and sexual assault. What could Ray do? Well I'll tell you - he could have not looked down at Sasha's dress, and kept his eyes to himself, because *news flash* every part of every brain "deals in words." Ray could control himself. But instead the author depicted him as a hapless male at the whims of an intoxicating female. In reality, Sasha is simply standing in an elevator and Ray decided to take advantage of his position behind her to stare down her dress. Can you tell I'm still seriously upset by how archaic of a perspective was included in this book??

I'll spare you any more ranting on my part about this subject, but there were countless examples of discrimination and stereotyping towards women in this book. There was something offensive in nearly every chapter, and even without the other problematic aspects of this book, it ruined all of the characters and story for me.

The romance itself was pretty strange too. It wasn't fun to read, and I didn't root for the characters to be together in any way. Though the author attempted to make it into a "forbidden love" scenario, it was - again - poorly done. Sasha and Ray barely knew each other, yet they were obsessed. They had exchanged a total of maybe 15 sentences in person, along with a dozen or so emails, and ( *** Spoiler Alert ***) basically ended up having sex at the end of the book. It was completely random, and sort of gross. Even though Sasha and Ray are not related by blood, they were still practically strangers, and it takes place in the middle of the night, in a house full of their parents, in a bed that they shared as children. Yeah, it's that weird. ( End of Spoilers )

There were a few select story lines that I appreciated, like Mattie uncovering her origins and finding her future on a farm that she and Quinn work on every summer. I also liked Emma's romance, not for its actual romantic properties, but for the dynamics it created amongst her estranged family members. I also really liked the backstory we got on Robert and Lila (the divorced parents), but there wasn't nearly enough of it. I finished the book still not fully understanding why the divide had gotten so deep to begin with. The ending itself was nice, and again displayed the potential that this book really had.

If you've made it this far in my review, I congratulate you for sticking with me (that wasn't an easy task I'm sure). If you've made it this far, and still want to read this book to form your own opinion, I really can't blame you. But, I ask that you consider getting it from the library when it releases, or do everything possible to prevent supporting this book financially. It contains very harmful stereotypes that should not be promoted by the book community, let alone general society.

I read an advance reader's copy of this book, so all quotes used in this review are subject to change.
Profile Image for Danielle.
806 reviews400 followers
November 11, 2022
This one marks my 100th read for the year. 🎉 A split family shares an estate on opposite weeks and two of the unrelated kids switch off bedrooms. 🤔 While I found their story the most intriguing- it focuses on the other siblings as well. 👍
Profile Image for Christy.
3,813 reviews32.4k followers
July 10, 2020
2 stars
We live in the same place, but never together.
When I saw that Ann Brashares was coming out with an new YA book, I jumped at the chance to read it. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is one of my favorite YA series. I remember reading them when I was in college and falling in love with the story and the sisterhood. If you go into The Whole Thing Together without these expectations that I had, you may enjoy it more than I did. I expected it to be younger, more fresh and fun than it was. Honestly, with the way the story focused on Ray and Sasha's older sisters for the bulk of the book, I think personally, I would classify this more as fiction than YA. 

The story starts off with Ray and Sasha. Ray and Sasha are both teenagers who have shared a room their entire life. But they've never officially met one another. Once upon a time, Ray's mother and Sasha's father were married. They had three daughters together, then they divorced. The one thing they could never settle on was who got their beloved home in Long Island. So they share it. Each person takes every other week. As time went on, both got remarried. Ray's mother had him, and a few weeks later Sasha's parents had her. The three older sisters they share have their own rooms, but Ray and Sasha always rotated theirs. 
He had the best qualities of an imaginary friend. He was patient, sympathetic, and understanding, silently sharing her things and spaces. He was never selfish or loud or bullying. He never even disagreed with her. He was just what she wanted, sometimes needed, him to be. So in that way, he was an ideal roommate.

Ray and Sasha's parts of the story were the parts I liked best. Both characters were likable and there were some funny and cute scenes between them.  I especially loved their emails. 
Dear Ray, 

Could you please withdraw orders to call me Sasha? 

Then the stories of Emma, Maddie, and Quinn came along. I could have done without having the focus of the book being on the entire family. I didn't love that it was written in third person and it wasn't clear to me who was who for the longest time. I also didn't like how one of the sister's stories ended. I thought it was unnecessary and sort of came out of nowhere for me. 

What I will say about this book, is once I started it, I was hooked. I stayed up late to finish it because I was engaged in the lives of Sasha and Ray. While there were moments I enjoyed the story, sadly I didn't fall in love with the book. It was just okay for me.
Profile Image for Nicole.
731 reviews1,834 followers
April 23, 2017
I only requested this arc because Ann Brashares is the author of the famous The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I never read the book, only watched the movie over 8 years ago back when I used to think every movie/tv show with teens was awesome. I remember that it was fun. Now I know I'm not reading it.

Excuse me if my review is all over the place. I had so many issues with The Whole Thing Together that I don't even know where to start from. The summary alone was confusing and I don't think it's worth wasting my time to try to explain it, the family relationships are very complicated.. I won't even write a detailed review, it's tiring to even think about it.

This book is a mess. In any novel, having multiple POVs is not an easy job for the author. It can be confusing, annoying, useless, and so much more. Especially, in contemporary. This book was not an exception. Everything that can go wrong while using multiple POVs was found here. I think I need to explain. You see, at first, I thought Ray and Sasha are the main characters. I was wrong, we read from their sisters pov too. 5 people! And I didn't care about any. I was confused who was telling the story each time especially with the 1st person usage and in the same chapter, we can find multiple POVs...

The characters were so richly annoying. Let's start with the sisters. The author tried to make them 3-dimentional but terribly failed. Quinn was oh my so perfect, sotoo good and loving. I hated Mattie, she was the worse of the 3. Emma was boring. I didn't care about them. The book was like fillers from page 1 until the end. I forced myself to finish it. It earned many eye rolls.

We all know Ray and Sasha will end up together but God, the cringe. So these two fellows practically fell in love with each other because they shared a room and stuff (never at the same time) and before they ever met. Well, the author never said it, but it was pretty obvious. I didn't root for them. Maybe it's because the story didn't only focus on them but also about the sisters' lives. Maybe because of the cringe-worthy letters. But in any case, I was indifferent. I think introducing the sisters was kinda necessary since their story wasn't worth a book, anyway...

The Asian rich father (of course, he works with techs. That's what all Asians do) and the irritating mother were so childish. . Sasha didn't appreciate her mother and she even knew it but it didn't help, I still hated her for it, her mother was nice.

I even had a headache while reading this book. I never have headaches. okay rarely but saying it rarely doesn't ring well. I even made it to the end only to hate it even more. Even though I liked how it ended for Mattie, the rest was stupid.

If you still want to read this book, go for it. Sometimes "it's me not you" kind of book but this one is definitely the book's problem.

***ARC provided via NetGalley***
Profile Image for Geo Marcovici.
1,239 reviews297 followers
May 28, 2018
Translation widget on The blog!!!
Ce înseamnă ca doi foști soți să împartă o casa de vacanța? Ce înseamnă pentru trei surori sa trăiască doua săptămâni cu familia mamei si doua cu a tatălui? Dar pentru cei doi frați vitregi ai surorilor?
O lecție de viața! O carte care te face sa vezi speranța după ce ai înfruntat necazul.
Recenzia mea completa o găsiți aici:
Profile Image for Olivia (Stories For Coffee).
593 reviews5,608 followers
April 21, 2017
The Whole Thing Together is a summer-y contemporary novel about a family split apart, thanks to years of tension and pent up anger. It follows all POVs of the children of the large family, as their lives change throughout the course of their novel. It’s the story about them reconnecting, thanks to these two teens who are not related but are apart of this broken family- in a way (Confusing, I know. The synopsis explains it better).

I was never a fan of third person narration, especially when it follows more than two characters. So seeing each sibling’s lives unfold, along with their secrets, as the story progressed, was puzzling considering each voice sounded similar to another and lacked distinction. But that wasn’t the only thing that bothered me about this novel. What bothered me the most about this novel were the micro-aggressions woven into the story, along with the subtle hints of sexism and racism directed at characters of Indian descent. It proves that authors, yet again, should stay in their own lane when creating protagonists from ethnic groups outside of their own because their internalized racism and stereotypes about those groups will bleed through their writing like it did in this novel.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s look at some quotes from the story itself to show you how problematic it is.

Racism shown throughout the novel

In chapter one, it describes the mother, Lila, when she first began to date the father, Robert, back then. Lila is a white woman and Robert is Indian, but grew up in Canada with his adoptive parents.

“You could see it in the picture if you looked carefully- she is strident, he is eager. She wanted to use him- his Indian-ness- to shock her parents’ system. He wanted to be part of the system he was supposed to shock.”

What even is Indian-ness? Is that a weird way of saying he wasn’t white, like Lila? There are so many things wrong with this quote, I don’t even know where to begin.

In this same chapter, on the same page, in my E-ARC, it says,

“Grandpa Harrison was predictably shocked and horrified that his daughter got pregnant by a brown-skinned young man with a presumably brown-skinned child when they weren’t even married.”

This description is never denounced as a racist thought. Authors, preferably ones who have actually experienced racism first-hand, can speak about racism in their novels if they denounce it and state that these thoughts are wrong. Nowhere in this novel does it state that Grandpa Harrison is a racist or denounce what he believed. Instead, this description is thrown into the novel without comment.

In chapter three, there is a description of one of the siblings which says,

“Quinn kept her own hours, ate half the parsley in the greenhouse, rode her bike in circles inside the barn, and dressed like a gypsy.”

In case you are unaware, g***y is a racial slur used against Romani people. It should never be used as a description of a quirky character and is offensive on many levels. Not many people know just how offensive this term is but it’s gross and everyone who reads the novel, including the author should be made aware of that.

In chapter fourteen, a character describes Sasha (Mixed race character who is half Indian) as having “Bengali eyes”. I just don’t understand this description at. all. Frequently throughout the novel, the author makes it known that Sasha has round or large eyes, so I’m assuming that “Bengali eyes” is one of her ways to showing that Sasha’s eyes are unique and different or that Indian’s have bigger eyes than others? There is a decent amount of adjectives in the English language to describe round/big eyes and so many ways to get creative with that description. Using the term “Bengali” to describe her eyes just shows how limited the author’s vocabulary is or just how fixated the descriptions are when pointing out South Asian features. *barf*

In chapter fifteen, one of the siblings, Mattie (daughter of Lila and Robert), described her sisters in comparison to herself. Mattie had “fine yellow hair and round violet-blue eyes”. This is how she described her sister,

“Emma was an exotic head-turner with thick black hair down to her belly button; and Sasha, the most Indian in looks, was quietly the prettiest of all of them…”

One, when describing a person of color (Yes, Emma is a PoC because her father is Indian), one should never use the word ‘exotic’. Only call birds and cars exotic. People. Are. Not. Exotic. It places a label of Other on people who are called exotic because they simply don’t fit the European standard of beauty. And how in all hell can someone be the “most Indian” in looks? Is that a not so subtle way of saying Sasha was darker than her other sisters who looked more European, thanks to their mother’s genes? I cannot. ALSO: If you were to reread the quote about Emma without the word ‘exotic’, the exact same message is delivered. It’s just extremely unnecessary and shows again how focused the author is to give these POC characters a not-so-subtle “other” label.

Mattie (the blonde haired / blue eyed sister) continues describing herself in saying,

“I kind of got all of it… She’d won the genetic jackpot. She’d inherited her dad’s smarts and grit, his merit as an outsider, his righteousness as a self-maker, his check mark in the diversity box.”

OH. My. GOODNESS. This is the whitest narrative I’ve seen so far. This character is basically saying, “Ah, I’ve got it all. While I’m blonde haired and blue eyed, I can still call myself an ‘outsider’ and be called ‘diverse’.” No one likes to have that other label that the author is so quick to stick it onto her POC characters. This statement is bleeding with racism. The character is obviously aware that she is getting “the best of both worlds”; no one questions her because of her light skin, but at the end of the day she can get called ‘exotic’ and ‘different’ because of her ethnicity. Her statement about how she had won the “genetic jackpot” shows this character thinks of herself as superior to her siblings because she has less “Indian-ness” attributes, physically. When you’re calling blonde hair and blue eyed person ‘a genetic jackpot’ you are placing a certain groups of people above others, and I understand it is because she probably gets more privilege than her siblings in society, but it seems twisted and wrong that the character sees this as such a positive than a negative, that she has more privilege and opportunities than her siblings, rather than not understanding why her “genetic jackpot” should give her a higher standing than the people she is blood-related to. It’s also not a coincidence that Mattie is known as the “beauty” and she is the one with the “genetic jackpot”. Hah, thanks for letting everyone know what the best features to have are.

In chapter seventeen, the sisters are shopping for dresses for a wedding.

“Emma pulled a bunch of things and brought them to the dressing room. Sasha took a navy-blue-and- white-striped maxidress to humor her. ‘Does it come with a burqua?’ Mattie asked through the curtain.”

When will we stop making fun of those who wear burqua’s? When will their choice in being conservative not be the butt end of a joke? This is a disgusting joke that should have never been included in the novel. It wasn’t funny. It was crass.

Sexism shown throughout the novel

In chapter three,

“People acted like Mattie was a ditz, but Dana made Mattie look like Albert Einstein. Dana used the calculator to add seven and two dollars. She posted pictures on Instagram of every semicool car that pulled up, preferably with some part of her dumb face barging into the frame.”

When, oh when, will we stop pitting female characters against one another? When will authors stop making female leads see other females as some unspoken form of competition? So what if Dana was bad at math or liked to use Instagram?! Mattie sees herself as ‘better’ than Dana because she doesn’t use social media? Whoop dee doo. I’m tired of girls hating on other girls for liking different things. Next.

In chapter eight, this is Ray describing Sasha,

“She was the kind of pretty only someone as deep as him understood. He laughed at himself for this thought and continued to think it anyway, as though her loveliness was something he’d invented.”

*barfs for five years straight* I hope I never hear a boy describe me this way. Beauty is not made specifically for another person and no one, boy or girl, should believe that someone’s beauty is theirs. Ray is mostly complimenting himself, in this sentence, by acknowledging how deep he is. The whole statement is cringe-worthy because it’s wrong, offensive, and extremely shallow. This is the exact opposite way to compliment a girl, acting as if he discovered her beauty and she didn’t know she was beautiful. Boy, bye.

In chapter thirteen, Mattie is describing Ray’s on-and-off again girlfriend,

“She’s your classic bratty East Hampton kid who hangs around Main Street wearing a lot of makeup and trying to spot celebrities.”


Chapter fifteen, Mattie is watching TV,

“She settled on a terrible rip-off of a terrible show involving a tanning bed and a lot of plastic surgery. It fit her need: she could watch people other than herself with loathing and bewilderment.”

Honestly, Mattie is so problematic I don’t know how she exists with all this hatred inside of her. WE GET IT. YOU ARE ALL NATURAL. This girl hates those who wear makeup and those who get plastic surgery. She is so unnecessarily petty about other females using cosmetics, and it’s disgusting. Bashing on women who do things to alter their appearance from the range of makeup to plastic surgery is in no way putting yourself on a taller pedestal, that Mattie seems to feel she is self-entitled to stand on. Does natural beauty need to be admired? Yes, of course, BUT that does not mean that harsh criticisms need to be turned around on another party in order to make that admiration more valid.

Chapter seventeen, the siblings are shopping for dresses and one girl says they need, “less expensive and less slutty options.” Stop. Using. The. Word. Slut. In. Novels. Girls aren’t sluts for wearing revealing clothes. Girls aren’t better for being conservative. I’m tired. Let me rest.

Honestly, there are other quotes shown throughout this novel that is racist or sexist, but I didn’t want to list them all here. I just wanted you all to have a sampling of how horrible the narrative is in this novel. White authors should do the research and be respectful when writing about PoC. Using stereotypes, harmful slurs, internalized racism in this novel without denouncing it at any point. These harmful and offensive quotes are sprinkled throughout the novel all willy-nilly, and I’m shocked that the editor didn’t point out how horrible this type of a language is.

This review isn’t made out to say DON’T READ THIS BOOK. I’m not saying that at all. I’m just writing this to warn readers, especially POC readers, that this book is harmful and should be avoided. The quotes I showed you above are harmful. They use language that should not be included in novels in 2017. I thought we moved on from things like this, but apparently, racist narratives slip through the cracks of the publishing industry.
Profile Image for Grace (BURTSBOOKS).
153 reviews354 followers
January 25, 2018
2.75 stars

The Whole Thing Together follows 7 different characters and about 80 storylines, which makes it almost impossible to give an accurate synopsis of it but imma try anyway. This book follows a dysfunctional family, one that has been split apart long before we start the book. We follow each of the 5 children of the family. It's hard to determine but the seemingly main characters of this novel are the two youngest siblings (THAT ARENT ACTUALLY RELATED) and how they share three sisters and a bedroom in their vacation home, yet they’ve never actually met.

I went into this book expecting something like the parent trap. I wanted long-lost siblings finally meeting and all the wholesome goodness that comes along with it and instead I got super weird incest vibes. (I know they aren’t actually related but, I mean, they share siblings… it’s weird.)

The worst thing about this book is that it’s really well written. So the whole time I was reading, there I was, marvelling at all the pretty words while simultaneously cringing at all the slut shaming, racism and heteronormativity. It was all very aggravating. Not to mention boring. I liked the focus on family, I liked the themes that were explored, but because there were so many characters and storylines, nothing was fully developed and the story didn't seem to follow an actual plot. Also, a romance between pseudo-siblings has no place in a book about family. I'm sorry I just don't want it.

I really, really wouldn’t recommend this book. It was cringey and boring and just all over the place. Turns out pretty writing can’t fix everything.

For example, even though the writing was nice, there were still many many many passages that had me rolling my eyes into the back of my skull. Surprise, surprise, you can still say offensive things using clever wording.

Here are some examples:

“He didn’t really want to see her like that – another girl clustered with bikini-clad friends, flashing braces and peace signs on Paradise Island or whatever. He wanted to keep alive the idea that she was different.

“He saw boys heads swivel and gawk at the friend as the pair walked by, but his shuffly girl was the actual beauty, her lovely body hidden under modest clothes.

She was the kind of pretty only someone as deep as him understood.

“As though her loveliness was something he invented.”

And it just goes on and on…. If those passages don’t turn you off from this book completely, I don’t know what will.
Profile Image for Tiago | MrsMargotBlog.
154 reviews26 followers
September 28, 2017
Ainda estou a digerir esta leitura, acho que ficou aquém do que esperava mas também não posso dizer que não gostei, gostei dos personagens, a história em si mas talvez quisesse um pouco mais de drama e romance.
É uma boa história young-adult e são os dois jovens Ray e Sasha, os personagens que mais me cativaram, gostei muito dos dois.
É um início um pouco lento por causa de serem muitos personagens, mas a autora deixa logo uma nota a explicar quem é quem, nota essa que tive de recorrer umas três vezes. Quando se entra no ritmo a leitura é muito rápida, leve e sem nos apercebermos já terminámos.
Em relação à história em si, fala sobre duas pessoas que se divorciaram e têm filhas em comum e que nunca se encontram, alternando sempre quando querem estar com elas e quando a mais velha se decide casar, depara-se com a dificuldade que terá em juntar os pais no mesmo espaço e infelizmente é preciso acontecer uma desgraça para que conseguiam abrir os olhos.
Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,150 reviews1,205 followers
April 24, 2017


Ray and Sasha share the same 3 older sisters. They stay in the same room whenever they’re in the family house in the Hamptons. But … they never ever met!
Ray’s mom was married to Sasha’s dad ages ago – they had three daughters and got divorced – and not in a let’s-stay-friends way. That’s why the two new kids never met.
But this summer things are chaning. Both are 17 now and their interests start to change. Now they don’t care about the old shared Harry Potter books or their old collection of shells in their room anymore.

But can there ever be something romantic between two kids with SO much family between them?
And then there are the other family members with their own problems: Emma is trying to introduce her boyfriend to the family. Quinn is trying to figure out where she came from and where she belongs, and why. And Mattie is hoping for farm-boy Matt to fall in love with her. And she’s also trying to de-secret the old secret surrounding her mom and surf-guy Jonathan!


I really enjoyed this book. There are a LOT of people to get used to once you start reading – it can be a bit confusing. It’s best if you memorize the family tree that’s posted in the beginning of the book. ☺
I think I would’ve loved it even more, if the story would’ve been told in only Ray and Sasha’s POV. We hear so much from everyone of the kids, and it’s just a bit too much. And also not enough. Because I also wanted to read all about everyone's problems. It would’ve been amazing if Ann would’ve made a trilogy out of the whole family-saga. There’s just so much about everyone to tell.
It’s a story so full of family and love, but also of hate and confusion and secrets and mysteries and hopes and dreams! And in the case of Sasha and Ray – a very sweet but also very confusing coming-of-age kind of lovestory…

I loved it! I cried and felt with them all. It was a very moving and adorable and very poetic family tale.
And I will definitely watch the movie – should there ever be one ☺



Smokin Hot Book Blog Email
Profile Image for Ryan Buckby.
652 reviews88 followers
June 9, 2017
I didn't enjoy this book at all, the writing and characters weren't anything like i want in a contemporary book. The characters felt so 2 dimensional and so bland that it was hard to pin point a stand out character in this book.

This book reminded me of 'We Were Liars' in some aspects of the story and i really had trouble trying shy away from that story but it kept popping up in my head while i was reading this book. I didn't enjoy the third person perspective while reading from Sasha and Ray, it made reading this book extremely hard and annoying at times it could have been so much better with out it being in third person.

so many stereotypes in this book were written so obviously and in poor taste and i really wish the author didn't do that because it gives of a bad impression with someone like me who isn't familiar with your work. It also dealt with so many topics that are very relevant to todays society with Slut-Shaming, Racism, Body Shaming just to name a few were all written so poorly i cannot believe this wasn't written better or looked at before publishing.

Don't get me wrong i'm not telling you not to read this book but there are so many issues with this book and it defiantly shows and is so bluntly there. If you read this book just keep an open mind with it because you will probably face the same problems i did
Profile Image for Saleh MoonWalker.
1,801 reviews272 followers
June 30, 2017
داستان عاشقانه زیبایی در رابطه با خانواده توماس-هریسون هستش که توی خونه ی تابستونیشون در لانگ آیلند زندگی میکنن. لیلا هریسون با رابرت تامسون ازدواج کرده و اونا سه تا دختر دارن. اما بعد از همدیگه جدا میشن و هر کدام با یه نفر دیگه ازدواج میکنن. هر کدام از این افراد جدید هم بچه دار هستن. با اینکه رابرت و لیلا با هم مدت زیادی زندگی کردن، اما اصلا سر هیچ موضوعی توافق نداشتن. با اینکه ایده اصلی داستان جالبه اما اینکه در ابتدای کار این دو نفر رو از هم جدا کرد، نارحت کننده و تراژیک بود. متاسفانه بخش اصلی تراژدی هم سر کویین، دوست داشتنی ترین خواهر، خراب شد که باعث مرگش شد و داستان بعدش به هیچ نکته ای که باعث مرگش شد اشاره نمیکنه و فقط به تاثیرات مرگ اون روی خانواده میپردازه.
شخصیت های زیادی معرفی میشن در طول داستان ولی مدت خیلی کوتاهی حضور دارن و بعد خارج میشن که یه مقدار آزار دهنده ست. مشکلات یه خانواده پولدار هم کاملا کلیشه ای بیان شده بود. با اینکه داستان حول دوتا جوان 17 ساله میچرخه اما برای افراد با سن بالاتر هم مناسبه. با اینکه داستان جذاب بود اما شخصیت پردازیه واقعا آزار دهنده ای داشت. نثرش ساده بود و سرعت حرکت متوسطی داشت.
Profile Image for Shannon A.
674 reviews530 followers
October 14, 2017
I really enjoyed this read. I felt Brashares was back in her element, telling a layered and multi-perspective family saga. It took a minute to keep all the characters straight but I ended up really enjoying them all and loving the story, though it was heartbreaking at times. Worth a read if you like contemporary or are a fan of Brashares Sisterhood series!
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,077 reviews13.3k followers
April 3, 2017
When I saw Ann Brashares was coming out with a new YA book, I was so excited. I grew up on the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books and I was ready for another book that explored family and friendship. In the end, though, I was not a fan of the writing style or characters in this book.

Sasha and Ray have shared everything pretty much their whole lives. They've shared books, sweatshirts, toys, and even a room. Too bad they've never met. Part of a torn family, Sasha's dad and Ray's mom were once married but split apart, leaving three daughters between them, three sisters that Sasha and Ray share. They've managed to stay apart, but this summer is going to be different than the rest. This summer, lives will change and even the smallest decisions will have the biggest impacts.

Oh man. I barely give books a one star but I could not stand this book. First thing that just did not mesh with me was how this book was written. There are so many characters and such a strange family tree and this story is told in third person omniscient. The story switched between characters so often and I had such a hard time connecting with someone since we barely had time with them before we were yanked away to someone else. Out of all of them, I didn't even have a favorite character. I didn't care about anyone and didn't really buy into their loving relationships with one another.

Since I didn't enjoy any of the characters, this book was so hard to get into. There was so much time spent on inner monologues and I felt like not a lot of actual character interaction and dialogue happened. And some parts I had to reread because I wasn't sure if what happened had actually happened [like what happened at the end between Sasha and Ray? Did what I think happened happen? Because that's just weird and makes no sense at all]. Once I hit about the halfway mark I found myself skimming through a lot of parts because I just didn't care. I was so disappointed that I just couldn't connect with the writing, the characters, or the story in general.

There were so many moments that held potential with these characters and the issues they were facing. Sadly, because there were so many characters, these issues could not be fleshed out and it felt very surface level. And that ending just didn't mesh with me at all. In the end, this book just wasn't for me.
Profile Image for Miranda.
738 reviews111 followers
April 21, 2017
It pains me that I didn't like this book because I had such high expectations for this book! I really wanted to like this book, and I did like a few parts of it, but the parts I didn't like definitely outweighed the positive aspects of this book.

The first thing I didn't like about this book was how confusing it was. There were a lot of characters so it was hard to connect with any of them. A lot of the characters seemed so similar that I really couldn't keep track of what was happening to which person. I thought there were some interesting plot points that were brought up, but because there were so many characters with different story lines, those plot points didn't get fleshed out. I think it would have been less confusing if there were fewer POVs. I think Sasha and Ray should have been the only POVs, because that would have been easier to follow. I think this book could have been split up into multiple books so it would have been less confusing and easier to connect with the characters.

The thing that bothered me the most in this book was the sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle sexism, stereotyping, and racism throughout the story. The most noticeable racism in this book came directly from a female character, Mattie. In the book, Mattie was considered to have gotten blessed with her looks because she had blonde hair and blue eyes. These physical characteristics made her feel superior and more attractive than her siblings who looked more "Indian" and "exotic". She loved that she had lighter skin, hair, and eyes, but still could be "unique" because of her ethnicity. That felt so wrong and just disgusting to me. That did not sit well with me at all.

Mattie was also so petty and rude when it came to other women. Mattie didn't wear makeup, and she thought poorly of those who did. She seemed to think she was better than women who would wear makeup. I HATE IT when women bash other women for wearing makeup. It is one my biggest pet peeves. Women should be supporting other women, not bringing them down. Also, she seemed to also bash other women who didn't like what she liked??? Excuse me???

So, Mattie was the worst.

Overall, there were too many negative things in this book for me to enjoy it. I wanted to like this book, and some of the storylines had potential, but I just couldn't bring myself to like this book.

1 / 5 Fangs

*This ebook was given to me in exchange for an honest review. *

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It
Profile Image for Odette Brethouwer.
1,396 reviews234 followers
January 28, 2018
Dit is een bijzonder boek.

Ann Brashares ken ik van de 4 vriendinnen reeks, een serie die ik vroeger echt megageweldig vond en die ik compleet in mijn kast heb staan. Haar andere boek, Gevonden!, vond ik een mooi principe hebben maar dat was het dan ook.

Ik was dus erg benieuwd wat ik van deze zou vinden, en ik heb hem uiteindelijk in Deventer op de boekenmarkt op de kop getikt. Toen een erg nieuw boek, nu pas gelezen...

Wat ik mooi vond aan dit boek: samengestelde gezinnen en wat dat betekent voor je identiteit speelt een hele grote rol in dit boek.

Ook vond ik het idee van Ray en Sasha die een kamer delen maar elkaar nooit ontmoet hebben heel erg mooi. Met hoe de familie in elkaar zit en met hoe het gegroeid is, snap je ook helemaal dat zoiets zich op die manier kan ontwikkelen. En ik vind het mooi hoe Brashares het bedacht heeft, met dat ze wel samen legobouwwerken maken en dezelfde boeken lezen en dat soort dingen.

Wat ik wat minder vond: alle tieners in dit boek denken wel heel diep en filosofisch na over vanalles. Een beetje John Green-achtig onrealistisch. En er waren heel veel personages, met ook veel POV's. Iets meer dan noodzakelijk was. En de cover is erg kwetsbaar met die uitsnede.

Wat ik zo mooi vond aan het boek: het is heel erg emotioneel heftig en het komt goed binnen. Misschien wel omdat iedereen zo veel bezig is in mijn hoofd met wat er allemaal aan de hand is enzo, maar het is gewoon heel mooi en warm en je gaat heel snel met veel van de personages meeleven.

Het boek kroop wel echt in mijn hoofd en hart en onder mijn huid. Ik heb het gevoel dat mijn review geen recht doet aan alle gevoelens die het boek opriep, maar ik weet ook niet hoe ik dat wel over kan brengen. Lees dit boek maar gewoon en kom er met me over praten ;)

Ik heb dit boek met veel leesplezier gelezen, maar door de minpunten wil ik geen 5* geven. Ik doe normaal niet aan halve, maar dit is meer 4,5* dan 4 ;)
Profile Image for Zoe.
1,819 reviews170 followers
May 21, 2017
Poignant, tragic and excessively complex!

In this latest novel by Brashares she delves into the emotional and psychological effects of blended families on all those involved and highlights the challenges faced by those specifically caught in the middle.

The characters are vulnerable, troubled and coming of age. The prose is simple and clear. And the plot, which is ultimately about guilt, love, life, loss, yearning, heartbreak, deception, friendship and family just seems to have a little too many subplots, too much angst, too much drama and too many issues, including class, divorce and race to not get bogged down and overpower the characterization and fluidity of the main storyline.

I am a huge fan of Ann Brashares from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series and I look forward to reading other novels by her in the future but for me this one wasn't one of her best.

Thank you to Goodreads Giveaways, especially Random House Canada, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

All my reviews can be found on my blog at http://whatsbetterthanbooks.com
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
May 1, 2017
Wow I am very surprised this book has such a low rating, I'm guessing people went in with expectations that were not met...
This is not a fun, fluffy, beach read like this authors well known series... i'm actually not even sure if I would classify it as young adult, it is probably more family fiction... The book is about two families that are sharing the same beach house... Lila and Richard were married and had three daughters and a very ugly divorce... as a result of this they share a beach house... Sasha and Ray share three big sisters, The same room at the beach house, and a job, but have no biological connection... this was definitely a character driven book, with very well-developed characters, all living a very dysfunctional existence, But aren't we all... it really was a story about what can happen when you don't learn to let go, when you don't learn to forgive, when you don't learn to forget... so while this book was not light and fluffy and nobody was sharing pants, it really was a fabulous book with a lot of depth and character...
Profile Image for Lost In My Own World Of Books.
563 reviews176 followers
January 21, 2018
Gostei da história em si, só achei um pouco confuso o facto de ter muitas personagens e o de ter o ponto de vista de todas as personagens ao mesmo tempo
Profile Image for Liana.
293 reviews3 followers
March 27, 2017
Review also here: https://forloversofbooks.wordpress.co...

Okay folks, get ready, because I am about to discuss a book I absolutely H-A-T-E-D. I was a bit reluctant to use this word (hate) at first, but then I thought – who fucking cares? I didn’t like this book and I am going to talk about it.

So, let us begin with a bit of the family’s history. Lila and Robert used to be married. Together they had three daughters, Emma, Quinn and Mattie. After their divorce they both re-married and they each had another child; Lila had Ray and Robert had Sasha. Confused? ME TOO! It took me about half the book to be able to tell the characters apart and remember who is who and, if I’m being completely honest, even by the end of the book I couldn’t tell the three older sisters apart. That’s exactly how indistinguishable their voices were. ( Keep in mind that I have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series numerous times and was never confused about who the narrator was.) So here’s my first problem with the book; its characters are so flat and common, so boring that I couldn’t even tell them apart; how was I supposed to care about them?

Moving on to the story after Lila and Robert’s divorce, the two are unable to decide who gets the beach house, which leads to them splitting their time there so they wouldn’t have to face one another. As a result, Sasha and Ray end up “sharing” a bed, toys, books, collections and family members without having met one another. And here comes the second problem: from the very first time we meet Ray, his thoughts while laying in the bed he “shares” with Sasha are way too sexual. He practically fantasizes about a girl who is almost his sister; it made me so uncomfortable I was ready to DNF it. I was curious, however, to see how the author handled this obsession Ray had with Sasha. Surely, she’d be creeped out by it, if she ever found out, right? WRONG! Because Sasha is also almost creepily obsessed with him. The two can’t stop thinking about each other, which leads to a very creepy, uncomfortable-to-read-about relationship between the two.

Moving on to the next issue: poor characterization. In the book synopsis there’s one word to describe each sister: Emma is the perfectionist, Mattie is the beauty, and Quinn is the favourite. And that’s all these three girls are. I’m being literate here. They possess no other personality trait, other than the one given to them by the book’s synopsis. Ray and Sasha, their parents, and step-parents are equally one-dimensional, pure caricatures and walking stereotypes. You think that’s all? I haven’t even touched this book’s racism and sexism and slut-shaming yet.

Robert is Bangladeshi. So, props to Brashares for including diverse characters in her book! Hm, maybe not so fast. Robert may be Bangladeshi, but he was adopted by a white couple and wants nothing to do with his culture and history. Now, I am not trying to say that this wouldn’t be an important story or a story worth-telling. But, coming from a white author, it feels a bit like the easy way out. You get the praise for including a character of color (and his biracial kids), without having to do any in-depth research on the region and the culture. Mattie ( I think) even refers to her father’s descent as a “check in the diversity box” which exactly how his descent is treated by the author. It is even specifically mentioned that Lila married him to piss off her parents. Not to mention, an extremely disrespectful and inconsiderate mention of the burqa. I really am wondering, how on Earth did this book even get published?

As for the aforementioned sexism and slut-shaming: Emma constantly judges her sisters’ clothes, either deeming them too revealing or too slutty (the burqa comment fits somewhere in here, since it was made during a shopping spree). Ray even considers himself to be deep and special because he noticed Sasha’s beauty instead of her friend’s. Congratulations boy! Do you want a cookie? Brashares is proudly promoting stereotypes like “she is not like other girls” and the idea that “modest” girls are far more beautiful than girls in revealing clothes. Can we ever take a breath? Mattie is extremely jealous and antagonistic towards Sasha – her own fucking sister– because she thinks she may be more beautiful? What kind of nonsense is this??

Anyway, you get my point. I absolutely loathe this book and I’m mourning the time I wasted reading this.

** An ARCopy was provided via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review**
Profile Image for ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰ .
2,150 reviews1,205 followers
April 24, 2017


Ray and Sasha share the same 3 older sisters. They stay in the same room whenever they’re in the family house in the Hamptons. But … they never ever met!
Ray’s mom was married to Sasha’s dad ages ago – they had three daughters and got divorced – and not in a let’s-stay-friends way. That’s why the two new kids never met.
But this summer things are chaning. Both are 17 now and their interests start to change. Now they don’t care about the old shared Harry Potter books or their old collection of shells in their room anymore.

But can there ever be something romantic between two kids with SO much family between them?
And then there are the other family members with their own problems: Emma is trying to introduce her boyfriend to the family. Quinn is trying to figure out where she came from and where she belongs, and why. And Mattie is hoping for farm-boy Matt to fall in love with her. And she’s also trying to de-secret the old secret surrounding her mom and surf-guy Jonathan!


I really enjoyed this book. There are a LOT of people to get used to once you start reading – it can be a bit confusing. It’s best if you memorize the family tree that’s posted in the beginning of the book. ☺
I think I would’ve loved it even more, if the story would’ve been told in only Ray and Sasha’s POV. We hear so much from everyone of the kids, and it’s just a bit too much. And also not enough. Because I also wanted to read all about everyone's problems. It would’ve been amazing if Ann would’ve made a trilogy out of the whole family-saga. There’s just so much about everyone to tell.
It’s a story so full of family and love, but also of hate and confusion and secrets and mysteries and hopes and dreams! And in the case of Sasha and Ray – a very sweet but also very confusing coming-of-age kind of lovestory…

I loved it! I cried and felt with them all. It was a very moving and adorable and very poetic family tale.
And I will definitely watch the movie – should there ever be one ☺



Smokin Hot Book Blog Email
Profile Image for Cal (Cal's Reading Corner).
660 reviews40 followers
August 29, 2022
Read more bookish goodness on my book blog: Cal's Constant Raving Reviews

Overall, this book is a 3/5 stars. It was nothing super great, but it wasn't poorly written. I enjoyed it. If you enjoy short contemporaries with a bit of light romance; you'll enjoy this.

This was very easy to read. It only took me one sitting, which I don't usually do for YA contemporaries.

I found it a bit troubling at the start; trying to distinguish the families. It was emphasised over and over again that Sarah and Ray are not related. They just have mutual parents that once were married and they share 3 older sisters. Not weird at all. I get it: they're not even step-siblings. But it's still weird. They share siblings. That's nasty.


All in all, I was expecting more out of Sasha and Ray's romance. By the end of the book; not much happens. They probably saw each other 3 times in total. It's one of those books that has a lot of build up: and even when you finish it, you're like, "Wait; what was the climax? That small mishap 5 chapters ago? Oh."


I found the siblings of the original married couple (now divorced) were the most interesting. The synopsis of this book misleads you: it mentions a tragedy between Ray and Sasha, but really, they were just observing the "drama" i.e. .

I wish this book was longer. Then I'd appreciate the characters more. I think the premise is cool-- a boy and a girl share a room, interchangeably every fortnight. They've shared toys, books, clothes, a bed, ever since they were born. And they never once tried to effectively talk/meet each other. Ever. I don't know about you guys; but if a guy was sleeping in my room and touching all my books... even at a young age; I'd tell him some boundaries.

I did appreciate Emma and Quinn's quest for belonging. These two, as well as many of the other kids, grapple with their "half identities". They are half Bangladesh, half white... but Robert (the father, who was from Bangladesh) was adopted in Canada. Thus the girls go experimenting, with different cultures like Islamism and Hinduism.


Favourite Quote:
"Their parents didn't deserve to be forgiven, and yet they would be. Where was the cure for that?"

I think the most heartbreaking this about this novel is that the parents had to have one of their children die before they stopped being so petty.

Profile Image for Tina Culbertson.
554 reviews19 followers
May 31, 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 :-)
Profile Image for Celeste_pewter.
593 reviews147 followers
August 8, 2016
It's hard to explain this book - it's fractured, and there's no real main character. There's also no concrete beginning or end.

However, Brashares shares a series of lovely snapshots into the lives of her characters, which somehow works when tied together into a greater whole. It's disjointed, but exactly the way real life often is.

Also, there's a plotline that will likely weird readers out. I kind of made a face at first, but eh - weirder things have happened. If there's more love in the world, so be it.
Profile Image for Karen.
784 reviews84 followers
February 22, 2017

I really wanted to like this book very much and was excited to get an advanced readers copy.
I loved The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I have to agree with the other reviewers about this one having a lot of confusing writing and the way the characters changing points of view were also confusing. Very disjointed writing and choppy.

I want to say thank you to Net Galley, Ann Brashares and the Publisher for providing me with my digital copy for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Shannon.
619 reviews39 followers
May 24, 2017
I had high hopes for this book because I really did enjoy the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and The Last Summer by Brashares, but this book was a bit disappointing. I found the whole family situation to be a bit confusing and kept having to look at the chart in the front of the book to figure out which child belonged to who. The book is told from several perspectives and I just really didn't enjoy Ray as a character. Maybe because it is a bit more difficult for me to identify with writing from a teenage boy's perspective. I also don't really enjoy most contemporary books but when it is by an author I like, I will usually read it. The first half of the book felt like your typical contemporary YA romance and that was fine, I just never really got invested in the characters or the story. Then I felt like the story shifted away from the YA to more contemporary where the focus on family issues and tragedy. I do enjoy Ann Brashares writing and the synopsis of this book sounded really interesting to me but then just kind of fell flat. I do recommend her other books if you have never read them, definitely check them out.

Thank you to the publisher for sending me a finished copy of this book.
Profile Image for Mariana.
529 reviews120 followers
March 30, 2017
I read many things about this book but I actually liked it. Yes, the parents are immature and I hated them most of the book. Yes, there were too many chatacters an POVs, but you kinda get used to it after a while. But, it's something different, easy to read and that touches a lot of issues of a family's life (maybe too many). It wasn't bad, but it could have been better. For being my very first book by Brashares I'll say it was pretty good.
Profile Image for cassie wang.
160 reviews15 followers
June 11, 2017
I've heard many, many good thing about Ann Brashares, her being the author of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and all. But, uh, this book weirded me out??? The writing was really good but the way Ray talked about Sasha rubbed me the wrong way.... Brashares' writing is really good though, now that I've gotten a taste of it, I'll definitely be reading Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
Profile Image for Luke Reynolds.
645 reviews
December 28, 2019
ARC Review (9/13/16, received from Sarah Prineas)

When I was in seventh grade, I absolutely adored Ann Brashares's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. I believe I read them all back-to-back, and I absolutely loved the journey of them. It could have easily been a stand-alone, but there was something satisfying about seeing four girls spend their summers sharing a pair of jeans they found at a thrift store that fit them all just right and growing up that worked for me. There was a magic in that that I had never seen before, and I was able to find it again when I read the adult companion novel (maybe the real definitive closer) last summer. Those characters were still part of my heart, and even when they were torn apart with grief and made mistakes, I still sympathized with them.

I had no idea that Brashares was coming out with a new novel next year: a tale about one family and their connections that the kids ruminate on over the course of a summer. I was hoping for that same magic, that same pull towards another group of individuals, but imagine my surprise when I at first viewed this advance copy with interest only to quickly become more and more frustrated with every page.

At the end of the day, I absolutely loathed this book and am filled with bitter disappointment. The Whole Thing Together was a slow and tedious bore that tried to combine way too many narrators into one book. The end result wasn't seamless, and add on top of that a gross relationship between two characters that aren't necessarily related but are to their half-sisters, repetitive writing that not even good moments can save, and a complete lack of connection, and you have a phoned-in novel from an author I called one of my favorites four years ago. What happened?

For starters, the story dragged. There's a complex history weaving through The Whole Thing Together, what from Lila and Robert marrying, giving birth to three daughters, Emma, Quinn, Mattie , and then divorcing and marrying different spouses and having one additional child each: Ray with Lila and Adam, and Sasha with Robert and Evie. The novel follows all five kids over the course of one summer as Emma deals with a secret boyfriend, Quinn accepts all the pain and lingering negativity from the split, Mattie meets a man that recognizes her that ultimately tilts how she views her belonging, and Ray and Sasha deal with lingering feelings for each other (Ray is attached to Sasha's scent while Sasha imagines what could be), all while bouncing back and forth between the summer house where things get heavy. Sounds interesting, right (maybe too much like a Danielle Steel novel, according to my brother)? Too bad the delivery made everything that happened seem so unimportant and just trivial. The languid pace of this 293 page book didn't help the flow, and while there was some bits of curiosity at the beginning, it flat-lined by the middle and stayed that way until the end. Everything unfolded in a predictable way , and all the characters read and sounded the same: checked out and uninterested.

The developing relationship between Ray and Sasha was also really creepy to me. I know they're not related technically, but they're related to their half-sisters who view them as siblings. There's also this fact that both of them have this possessive claim on each other, both wanting each other's imaginations of who they are to be the same in real life. It's framed as super romantic in that forbidden sort of way, but I was very uncomfortable with the whole thing, and it wasn't helped as the book continued. I did enjoy their e-mails and texts, but other than that, their relationship wasn't cute. The ending didn't help matters.

Even the writing wasn't anything spectacular. Usually Brashares is very good at using simple language to her advantage, making sure it evokes feeling out of the reader. Here, that didn't happen. Some passages were exceptions, of course, and Brashares definitely shows talent there. But the rest of the novel maintained a flat and repetitive third-person past tense cadence that was just boring. I can't tell you how many times the pronouns 'he' and 'she' were used to start different sentences in the same paragraph. Sure, it helped the flow, but it also showed how little effort, I felt, was put into this piece of work.

The only thing I have left to say about The Whole Thing Together is a question: Why? Why has one of my favorite writers of my teenage life written a book so completely soulless? Why is it worse than a contemporary book with mental illness that focused way too much on romance and not enough on the great family bonds? Here's the thing with that novel: at least it kept me interested! You may have a cohesive novel, and it may be mostly well-written, but you need to have a strong narrative voice to bring that story to life. Here, there was nothing colorful, and when all is said and done, having time to write snarky comments in the margins when a book is boring is never a good thing.

Also, the only LGBT+ characters that show up here are a married gay couple that's renting out the bottom floor of Lila and Adam's place in Brooklyn. They are only mentioned in passing three times, and I think it would've been cool if they had speaking parts. But no, only the main family matters.

It was also cool that Robert was Indian and three of his daughters were biracial. His backstory was also super sad and definitely deserved more time, because that burqa joke was absolutely tasteless when you compare it to most of the characters being part of that ethnic minority. But there was also a lot of other questionable stuff that other readers have talked about....
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