Whole Thing Together

Whole Thing Together

A beautifully written novel about love, class differences, and betrayal playing out over the course of a fractured American family’s Long Island summer from  #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

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.--from the publisher

304 pages     978-0385736893    Ages 14 and up

Read alike:  Once and For All by Sarah Dessen

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Sasha and Ray have never met, even though they live in the same house.  How can that be?  Ray’s mother and father’s ugly divorce left his mom with himself and his sisters, Emma (the oldest and most responsible); Mattie (the spoiled one); and Quinn (the calm middle child).  They live in the city, but always come back to the beach house every summer, every other weekend.  Ray’s father eventually remarried a woman who already had a daughter, Sasha.  And she and her family come to the beach house every summer, every other weekend.

Ray’s parents never, ever cross paths, although his sisters do spend time with both mom and dad.  Ray prefers the quiet life and stays with his mother, but on accidental meeting in the city with Sasha changes his entire perspective.  In the beach house both of them sleep between the same sheets, but never together.  They even work the same job every other week they’re there.  And even though they really don’t know each other, their lives are becoming more enmeshed…

Then comes the big news – Emma is getting married and wants both of her parents at a party her sisters are throwing for her.  She knows tensions and arguments always escalate with them, but for once, she’s hoping they’ll be civil.  One can always hope…

And at the end of the party, tragedy strikes is so many different ways, with one leaving the entire family reeling…  Words and actions regretted, time forever lost, and families torn apart.  Can what has become undone ever be put back together again?

This book is an excellent example of the reader connecting personally to so many of the characters.  Each one of the girls, Ray, and Sasha equally share the main character position where reader’s can read (or listen…excellent audiobook!) to their voices, experiences, and love for their family happen.  The beautiful setting lends itself to the plot of their lives.  You can’t help but begin reading this to experience it with them.  A step away from young adult lit to new adult lit, Brashares writes about a blended family with emotional detail that makes the novel all that more believable.  Excellent addition for grades 9-12.

Recommended by: Naomi Bates, Librarian, Texas  USA

See more of her recommendations:  yabooksandmoreblog.wordpress.com

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