“If a man’s character is to be abused, say what you will, there’s nobody like a relative to do the business”, the perfect lead in for the review of my first introduction to Grant Ginder. Please read on for my review of this snarky, sassy and somehow all too relevant title
The People We Hate at the Wedding
If someone could take the worst moments from your life, those missteps, mistakes and bad endings and then use those as your ‘headlines’ as they precede you through every interaction with family, that would just start to explain this book. Three characters are the foundation for this book about family, dysfunction, expectations and appearances as an invitation to a wedding is received. From the mother who doesn’t speak to her son, to her daughter and his sister who has always maintained a level of animosity, the three voices tell their stories in distinct and clearly presented voices. While some family stories are funny, these are the stories that cling to the worst moments for each person described: messy, often mean and unapologetically amusing, if dark – as long as it isn’t your family or your story.
There are old wounds and resentments, finding life in the facades that everyone puts up, many simply for the interactions with (and because of) family. While we never actually get to the wedding, about half-way in these alternating viewpoints of the upcoming wedding and family dynamics, we see the partners of each person chiming in….
All of this presents a wonderful character study that reveals as much about the speakers as those they are speaking on: the thinly veiled insults, the pleasure in discomfiture of others, and the ability of each character to be completely blind to their own part in each dysfunctional moment. I thought that so much of the mean-spirited humor may be wearing: but sometimes the perfectly formed phrase is JUST what is needed, providing an instant (if more than slightly jaded) image of the person, moment or scene unfolding before us. Satire is meant to convey a touch of over-the-top actions and reactions, and most readers will be thankful that their own family and relations aren’t quite to this level, but there are bits that are sure to be familiar to many. Far different from what I expected, the story was quick reading, cleverly phrased and hard to put down. A favorite for those who like their wit to contain a bite, and are happy to see tumult and dysfunction that is (hopefully) far worse than that around their own gatherings.
Title: The People We Hate at the Wedding
Author: Grant Ginder
Genre: Contemporary Fiction - Adult, Family Saga, Satire
Published by: Flatiron Books
Published on: 6 June 2017
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Audio Length: 11 Hours: 7 minutes
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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.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: