Saturday, February 18, 2023

*Review* The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Grinder


Genre: Literary Fiction
Published: June 6, 2017
Pages: 334

Relationships are awful. They'll kill you, right up to the point where they start saving your life.

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.

"Because what I thought you just said was that you were going to miss your sister's wedding to go gay camping in the Poconos."

"...if he has a stash of ecclesiastical Mad Libs for those occurrences when he has to preside over the death of a total stranger."

I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads First Reads giveaway program. This is my honest review. 

It's rare that I read a book where I don't like any of the major characters, and yet this book fit that bill. I think that made reading it a little slower going for me, but I still ultimately wanted to see where it went. And to be fair, I initially liked Paul, and then I learned more about him and became less enamored. I feel like usually when you don't like a character in a book, it's because of how they're portrayed by another character. That wasn't the case in this book for me though. The reasons I don't like these characters is because of things they're telling me about themselves while I'm in their heads. 

This story is told in shifting POVs from six characters, although two of them we only visit for a couple chapters as they're more minor characters in the whole scheme of things. This lets us get into different heads to see different angles of the story for a better understanding of everything. That didn't help me like any of the characters better, but at least I feel like I understand who they are. 

All in all, reading this book was entertaining in the way that watching a train wreck is entertaining. It was like cheap reality tv. It probably shouldn't have been so intriguing, but I just couldn't look away. Overall I give The People We Hate at the Wedding 4.12 out of 5 stars, and I will be watching the movie at some point. - Katie 

Grant Ginder is the author of five novels, including Let's Not Do That Again and The People We Hate at the Wedding (soon to be a major motion picture starring Allison Janney, Kristen Bell, and Ben Platt). Originally from Southern California, Ginder received his MFA from New York University, where he teaches writing.

Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @GrantGinder

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