Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The People We Hate at the Wedding

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder, 326 pages

When you have a book with a title like this one, it immediately begs the question: who are the people they hate at the wedding? The answer, if you consider the "we" to be siblings Alice and Paul, is EVERYONE.

But let's back up: the book starts with 20-something data entry drone Alice conferring with her brother Paul (a psychologist working at a controversial clinic in Philadelphia) about the exorbitant cost of the invitations for the wedding of Eloise, their sister half-sister (as they keep reminding us, and each other). Eloise is their mother's child from her globe-trotting first marriage to wealthy French businessman Henrique, while Alice and Paul are the children of Bill, an accountant from the Chicago suburbs, and the sharp divide between their upbringings persists into adulthood, with Alice and Paul dismissing their elder sister as a pampered snob (which she is) and Eloise attempting to solve their problems by throwing money at them. And let's not even get started on their mother, Donna, a widow who has turned to pot to deal with her issues. As Eloise prepares for her wedding in the English countryside, Alice and Paul deal with their own baggage of dead-end jobs and unconventional relationships, adding up to a hot mess in the days leading up to the wedding.

Each chapter takes us into a different character's point of view, giving us insight into each character's motivations and personality that makes them much more three-dimensional and sympathetic than if this was a straightforward novel. This is an excellent addition to the dysfunctional family genre; fans of Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's hit The Nest will like this one, and it's a perfect read for the summer wedding season.

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