Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Review: The People We Hate at the Wedding

Summary: Relationships are awful. They'll kill you, right up to the point where they start saving your life.

Paul and Alice’s half-sister Eloise is getting married! In London! There will be fancy hotels, dinners at “it” restaurants and a reception at a country estate complete with tea lights and embroidered cloth napkins.

They couldn’t hate it more.

The People We Hate at the Wedding is the story of a less than perfect family. Donna, the clan’s mother, is now a widow living in the Chicago suburbs with a penchant for the occasional joint and more than one glass of wine with her best friend while watching House Hunters International. Alice is in her thirties, single, smart, beautiful, stuck in a dead-end job where she is mired in a rather predictable, though enjoyable, affair with her married boss. Her brother Paul lives in Philadelphia with his older, handsomer, tenured track professor boyfriend who’s recently been saying things like “monogamy is an oppressive heteronormative construct,” while eyeing undergrads. And then there’s Eloise. Perfect, gorgeous, cultured Eloise. The product of Donna’s first marriage to a dashing Frenchman, Eloise has spent her school years at the best private boarding schools, her winter holidays in St. John and a post-college life cushioned by a fat, endless trust fund. To top it off, she’s infuriatingly kind and decent.

As this estranged clan gathers together, and Eloise's walk down the aisle approaches, Grant Ginder brings to vivid, hilarious life the power of family, and the complicated ways we hate the ones we love the most in the most bitingly funny, slyly witty and surprisingly tender novel you’ll read this year. -- Flatiron Books

One of the most memorable things that happened at this year's BEA was seeing a girl dressed as a bride handing out copies of THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING by Grant Ginder. It was just the beginning of the buzz for this novel, and since then it been on Entertainment Weekly's Summer Must-Read as well as a Publishers Weekly BEST SUMMER BOOKS, a 2017 New York Post Best Books of Summer, and Redbook's 10 Books You Have To Read This Summer!

I wasn't sure quite what to expect from THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING, but I had a few ideas based on the cover. I was expecting an irreverent look at a dysfunctional family, and that's exactly what I got. If anything, it was even funnier and more snarky than I was ever dreamed. I'm not easily offended and thought the book was hilarious, but there might be a reader or two out there that has a different sense of humor -- just a warning!

THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING tells the story of an unusual family. Donna, the matriarch is a widow living in Chicago who enjoys her wine and partakes in an occasional joint with the neighbor. Her daughter Alice is in her 30s and has an unfulfilling job, but she's livening things up by having an affair with her married boss. Next up is Paul, Alice's brother. He lives in Philly with his professor boyfriend (who's a bit pretentious to say the least and not entirely sure that monogamous relationships are normal) and works at a clinic helping people get over their fears. Finally, there's Eloise who is Paul and Alice's half sister. She's the one having the fancy wedding in London that none of them want to attend... and she's also practically perfect!

The book centers around the entire family coming together for Eloise's wedding and it's quite the wedding... and quite the family. Alice and Paul are both having personal issues in their own lives and resent Eloise for her perfect life, while Donna meets up with Eloise's father, her first husband. THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING is a hilarious look at a dysfunctional cast of characters that also shows that we can't escape our family... even if we sometimes want to!

I really enjoyed THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING. It was a fun surprise just how cutting this book was, and I appreciated how much I laughed at this family and their interactions. Their insights into their lives were truly entertaining, and their comments on each other were certainly biting. While I think (or hope) that this book was pure satire, there was a lot of truth in how they felt about each other. And that's the beauty of this novel.

At it's heart, THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING shows just how crazy spending time with our family can be. But it also shows how no one understands you the way your family does. Despite being a rather cutting story, the ending of this novel is touching and even heartwarming.

I realize this book isn't for every book club, but I do think it would make a great discussion book. I was able to find this reading guide with seven questions. Some of the themes you might want to talk about include family dynamics, sibling rivalry, marriage, divorce, second chances, and love.

All in all, THE PEOPLE WE HATE AT THE WEDDING was a fun book that I recommend to fans of stories about dysfunctional families.

I received a copy of this novel at this year's BEA.


The Book Sage said...

I like the concept.

bermudaonion said...

I love books about dysfunctional families and can use a funny book from time to time. This sounds great!!

Mystica said...

I like the title and would be drawn into a funny story. We all need a laugh amongst the serious stuff.