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THE WHOLE THING TOGETHER by Ann Brashares

THE WHOLE THING TOGETHER

by Ann Brashares

Age Range: 14 - 18

Pub Date: April 25th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-385-73689-3
Publisher: Delacorte

A torn family reunites years after a bitter divorce.

Lila and Robert’s divorce resulted in shared custody of their three daughters and their Long Island beach home. Eventually each remarries and has a new baby—Ray and Sasha, respectively—who grow up sharing their half sisters and a vacation-house bedroom, though their parents’ continued hostilities prevent them from meeting. Consequently, both children create imaginary playmate versions of the other based on objects left in their shared room. Both also privately grapple with their relationship, finding themselves not-quite twins, not-quite siblings, and not-quite roommates, though other characters seemingly use these definitions to avoid examining the messy family dynamics. Eventually a new, shared summer job initiates an email exchange between mixed-race Sasha and white Ray, increasing their mutual fascination, which is then complicated when their chance meeting ignites romance. Meanwhile, their half sister’s engagement party forces the extended family together, with predictably disastrous results. But soon family tragedy creates a tentative truce. Injections throughout of additional issues of race (brown-skinned Robert was adopted as a toddler from Bangladesh by white parents, and Lila is also white) and class (Robert’s “new money” versus Lila’s “old money” values) attempt profundity but more often just distract from Sasha and Ray’s potentially interesting connection.

The large cast of angst-y characters with their equally daunting number of angst-y issues impedes deep exploration of any particular character or idea. (Fiction. 14-18)