The lowdown from Goodreads:
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.
The People We Hate at the Wedding immediately struck me – both the title and the cover sucked me right in. I tend to be sarcastic, and at times I have a very sardonic sense of humor, so a book about people we hate at the wedding…sign me up! I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into, but the dysfunctional family author Grant Ginder writes for us is deep, difficult and at times hilariously funny, even in their depressive states.
I thought the story telling device of hearing from all of the characters in the book served its point well. We mostly hear from Donna, the mother of the family, and her three children, who each get a turn to tell their story. I enjoy when different view points are revealed to us because I think the perspective builds depth of character. And let me tell you, these are not the most likable people. In fact, I didn’t really know who I was rooting for, or if I was rooting for anyone at all! But, these people are three dimensional and even when they are being horrible to each other, you can see where they are coming from, even though you want to tell them to stop! I have to say I was a little jealous of how they all just laid it out there to each other, saying exactly how they felt. I know a lot of us could use a little bit of that therapy.
The People We Hate at the Wedding is a quick, read. Once I got into the meat of it, I finished it within a couple of days. I thought it was extremely smart and well written, and I highlighted a few quotes that I felt were very poignant. I love when Paul, the brother, says “If a man’s character is to be abused, say what you will, there’s nobody like a relative to do the business,” because it is true. No one can get you like someone you love, and it is the heart of this book. This family obviously loves each other, they just don’t have to be traditional in the way they do it.
I would call this a great summer, beach read, but it is not for the faint of heart – it definitely leans “R” rated, but that was no problem for me. I loved the book and would recommend to anyone who has a dark sense of humor and loves a great story of family dysfunction. I am Really Into It and am ready for more of Ginder’s books.
Special thanks to Grant Ginder, Flatiron Books & NetGalley for providing our copy in exchange for an honest & fair review.