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.
Release Date: April 25, 2017
When I started The Whole Thing Together, I immediately fell for Sasha and Ray. I loved the way they spoke about each other. Almost reverent tones reflected the lovely thoughts they each held for the other. Ray reminisced about the summer they built a Lego city together and talked about the safety he found in their shared bed. Sasha mused about his stubble in the sink and their shared copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I was hooked from the start on the beautiful things they thought about the other and the fact that while they didn’t know each other, they had feelings beyond fondness.
As we stepped into the lives of the rest of the family, however, I had less love. I felt disinterested in Emma’s perfection, irritated by Quinn’s sage thoughtfulness and downright hated Mattie’s bratty behavior. I pressed on through the drama and the hardship though. It was worth it for the beauty and simplicity of Ray and Sasha and their sweetness. I rolled my eyes at the arrogant Robert, the timid Jamie & Evie and the flighty Lila. Adam and Jonathan were barely on my radar. Overwhelmed by character names? I was too, at first. I often wondered, why did she include all these other character’s stories, why not just focus on Ray and Sasha and their perspective.
However, as I read on I began to relate to Emma and it hit me, this family was a lot like my own. My parents were divorced when I was young and growing up I often wondered if they would ever be able to be in the same room without a brawl breaking out. I have five younger brothers and sisters in total and I don’t bother with explaining the halves of any siblings. As Ann Brashares newest book came to its conclusion, the answer to my question became clear. Brashares included the stories of each character and the perspective of each kid because that’s how a family works. If something happens in a family that seems small to one person, it can ripple its way to another and they can get hit by wave. I used to think about this a lot as a kid. Worry about how my life choices could hurt my mom or drive away my dad. Eventually, thankfully, I discovered that our lives can’t be lived that way. Everything we do can affect those we love but that doesn’t mean we should make choices for everyone else. It is the opposite actually. Choose love, kindness and goodness and it will give you the strength to ride out the waves that can be created. This book reminded me of the importance of family, the good, the bad and the ugly.
It is a beautiful picture of love in its purest form and its darkest (also known as hate). Life is not as two dimensional as it can seem; sometimes we are an Emma- overachieving our hearts out, occasionally we are a Mattie- misbehaving for attention or to hide a truth unspoken and maybe a few of you are lucky enough to be a Quinn- wise and thoughtful. I strive to be a Sasha- modest, brave and overcoming my anxieties with love and beautiful thoughts.
This is a great story for teens and adults and just to top it off, it’s set at the beach, bringing the concept of ripple to wave full circle.
Special thanks to contributor Lesley for reading and reviewing this book for A Midsummer Night’s Read.