Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
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.
If you like snarky humor and watching a train wreck of a family unravel at the seams then I’ve got another great book to add to your summer reading list! First of all, the title/cover combination is pure gold, this is a great book to pick up this summer. It’s light, but has a bite due to its sardonic nature. This is a modern, cynical look at the dynamics of a highly dysfunctional family that could not be more entertaining.
It’s told via alternating points of view, primarily through the eyes of Paul, Alice and Donna though you do hear from just about every character at some point. Every single one of them is deeply flawed and not very likable, but watching their relationships was utterly fascinating. These people do not hold anything back, they are brutally honest and at times it’s painfully awkward, but again absolutely entertaining as a reader.
This has some racy, risqué scenes but it’s also infused with the type of humor that speaks to my soul. The writing is acerbic, intelligent and scarily insightful and is always filled with snark. It’s really witty and engaging, I read it pretty quick and can’t tell you how many times I vacillitated between giggling and being horrified. The way this family behaves is appalling! I think the book succeeded at what The Nest tried (and failed) to do.
If I had one (minor) issue it would be that there was very little time at the wedding and I’m a sucker for drama at a wedding! At the end of the day though, this book isn’t really about a wedding, it’s about a really messed up family, so I’m not mad.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to Flatiron Books for my review copy.