The Whole Thing Together (by Ann Brashares) Review

I knew I would like this book when I read the synopsis, however, I didn’t think I would love it as much as I do now. It was one of the best books I’ve read this year. The plot was unpredictable, and the whole story was just incredible, a great and different read.


The Whole Thing Together is about a family’s struggle with a bitter, harsh divorce, and how it’s shaped everyone’s relationship with their parents, siblings, step-siblings, and everything in-between. I thought this novel would be a bit more depressing, but actually, it’s funny, quirky, and yes, at times sad. It’s definitely a different take on your average family.


Synopsis from The Whole Thing Together


the whole thing together


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.


The Whole Thing Together – My thoughts


It was a well written novel, I never once was confused about the plot, or what the characters were feeling. You can tell that there is still a lot of pain from the divorce for Emma, Mattie and Quinn, even though they are young adults. For Ray and Sasha, it’s totally confusing, they share the same half-siblings, but they’ve never met each other because of their parents’ bitter feelings towards each other. They share a beautiful lake house, and that’s pretty much all they know about each other, and that their families are adamant that they don’t associate with each other.


The Characters


The Whole Thing Together wasn’t focused on one particular character’s thoughts and narration. The chapters were narrated by Emma, Quinn, Mattie, Sasha and Ray. I felt that Anne Brashares was smart to have the book narrated from multiple perspectives. It gave a good insight on the families’ odd ways of things, and it made the story interesting.


I liked Quinn’s perspective on her family’s issues. She had more of a positive attitude, and she treated Ray and Sasha equally, meaning that she didn’t resent or blame them in any way. While she wishes that her parents didn’t absolutely hate each other, she suspects that what happened between them must have been very bad. She offers wise advice for Ray and Sasha, and tries to be a good sister to them.


Emma, the oldest, has mixed feelings about her parents. While she loves her mom and dad, she blames them for the way the families are. When she tells her mother that her boyfriend works for her father’s company, her mother flips out, and doesn’t understand how difficult it was for Emma to tell her, because she knows that her parents hate each other. Emma is an interesting character, she is wise and understands a lot about what happened between her parents.


Mattie at times seemed mean, and she favored Ray over Sasha. She has many questions as to why her parents’ marriage fell apart, and she discovers a secret that will change her feelings about everything. She also wants her parents to at least be on friendly terms, and not be so divided.




The Whole Thing Together was a heartwarming novel about two familes’ struggle for a somewhat normal life. It’s a good YA novel, it explores a deeper subject for the genre. I highly recommend it to all readers, as it offers a good message, about hope and family.


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