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The People We Hate at the Wedding

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Grant Ginder nails family complexity. 

Paul and Alice must deal with the complicated engagement of their half-sister Eloise, and all the trappings and responsibilities that fall on siblings. Paul is focused on tenure and his handsome boyfriend, while Alice is tangled in an affair with her boss. Not only does Alice inconvenience them with a wedding, but she also reminds them of everything they’re not.  As the clock ticks closer to the wedding, this story gushes tension and hilarity.
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I am so mixed about this book, on one hand I enjoyed the characters.  On the other, I thought the author needed a better editor.  I was getting lost on pagers with too many pronouns and had to reread often to find who was who.  Sometimes I thought the story was interesting and other times, not.  It just wasn't that well written.  I feel like I need to apologize for the review, but I am being as honest as possible.
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Weddings are a time of love and togetherness for most and for other’s its about just getting through the day as unscathed as possible. 

The People We Hate At the Wedding by Grant Ginder brings us a blended family of sorts that has oldest daughter Eloise getting married in London and her half brother and sister, Alice & Paul, fighting the urge or avoid it all together. 

Their sister is the product of a previous relationship of their mother’s and they feel she has led the privileged life with her wealthy father providing her all the best while they have led one of comfort but not of luxury. In the beginning of this story you are immediately given the cattiness of their feelings towards their sister but as the story progresses you are given more origination of their envy and bitterness. 

Doesn’t make it right or likable but it does give them a more human feel and you do sympathize as the novel continues. Family secrets are revealed and in the end they start to pull it together. 

The writing was well done and held my interest for sure, even if the characters needed a good throat punch at times. Even though the story didn’t have me laughing out loud like I anticipated, I still found myself wanting to get to the end of find out how everything came together for these characters I had become invested in.

I appreciate receiving this book to review (for an honest opinion) and having Grant Ginder brought to my library as a new author of mine.
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Reminded me of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, only the lite version.
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Sometimes there are unlikeable characters and they compliment the story and it just works, this is not one of those times.  I really struggled with getting past the characters and enjoying this story.
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I was so looking forward to reading this, and I went into it with an open mind and a desire to like it, not just because of how much I'd heard about it, but also because I was curious to see how this familiar but much-loved conceit would be handled by someone other than a female author. Kudos to the author for never once leading me to raise an eyebrow at either his take on the relationships and situations that feature in the book or his depiction of female interiority. His observations and character portrayals were consistently believable. What I was far less smitten with, unfortunately, was the writing, which felt stiff and a bit paint-by-number to me, and the way in which the novel unfolded, which struck me as very careful to adhere to some formula in the author or publisher's mind for how a novel like this should unfold to best appeal to its projected audience. I had a similar reaction to Donna Tartt's THE GOLDFINCH, and we all know how well that did and how beloved it was on the whole, so, to each her own, I suppose!
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Alice and Paul 's mother, Donna, was married to a wealthy Frenchman before she met their father.  Alice and Paul grew up with their middle-class mother speaking French, fixing strange French cuisine, and driving a used Ford station wagon. Their older half-sister, Eloise, grew up going to elite boarding schools and had chefs to fix her authentic French cuisine. Eloise tried to fit in when she was with her American family, but Paul and Alice could not help but resent her and her luxurious lifestyle.  Now Eloise is getting married in London and wants her siblings and mother there for the festivities.  Paul and Alice have to both face the harsh reality that their lives are a mess compared to their older sister.  Alice is having an affair with her married colleague and is still mourning her miscarriage years ago.  Paul just lost his job and his boyfriend is making comments that lead him to believe their relationship is in jeopardy.  Not to mention that his relationship with his mother has been non-existent since his father died.  Neither Paul nor Alice are looking forward to this wedding.  Will the wedding be the opportunity they need to heal their family or will it be the event that tears them apart for good?

The People We Hate at the Wedding puts the fun back in dysfunctional.  Of the three siblings, Paul seems to be the most dysfunctional, but Alice and Eloise and not that far behind. There were times that the dysfunction seemed extreme and was grating on my nerves.  I mean - pull it together people.    Paul was seriously a hot mess and I thought his boyfriend was a giant douche.  He redeemed himself just a little at the very end.  Alice didn't really have a good boyfriend picker either, as hers was married. It really made it hard to like her - given her homewrecker status.  Eloise was the only one who seemed to be trying to have a relationship with her siblings, but the disparity in the way that they grew up made it tough.  The book is told from the alternate viewpoints of the siblings and Donna, their mother.  I think Donna was my favorite character of the book - the way that she stood up for Paul was admirable.  I was very satisfied with the end of the book - it was realistic and reassuring that the author didn't feel the need to be fake in order to give the reader warm fuzzies.

Bottom line - The People We Hate at the Wedding is a book about a less than perfect family just trying to figure out a way to love each other.  It is a good read if you don't let all of the dysfunction get to you.

The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder
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Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: 6/6/2017
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These characters are all awful. I wanted to like this book, but I couldn't  get past chapter 3.
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Did not finish. Neither of the siblings were compelling, but it took too long to get into the why they would hate their half-sibling, other than the money. More time was devoted to a germophobe.
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There is no one - no one - in "The People We Hate at the Wedding" who is a particularly good person, other than Eloise’s fiance, Ollie. He’s really the only wholeheartedly decent person in the bunch and is really kind of a non-entity. Mark, Jonathan, and Henrique are genuinely monstrous human beings. The others are more completely drawn - there’s good and bad in each of them: Eloise comes off as a caring person, though it appears that much of her benevolence is part of a ruse to make her seem like a good person. It is apparent, though, that she does care for her siblings and, at the end, there’s a scene with Paul which illustrates how much it truly bothers her that they aren’t a closer family. Donna did protect Paul from his father’s bigotry, but you do get the impression that Paul and Alice are, to her, part of the life she regrets living. Alice, I think, wants to be a better person and is an alright sibling to Paul, but has no idea how to be a better person. They each have periods in which they are truly awful people but they’re awful people you for whom you do feel some sympathy. You also want them all to get some therapy, too. 

The novel’s an interesting look at an extremely dysfunctional family - and the wedding setting is inspired: what other event can make even the most put together families fall into pieces quite like a wedding? 

Some reviews have claimed that the disdain Paul and Alice have for Eloise is unrealistic - I don’t think so. I think it makes perfect sense. When there can be this animosity when half-siblings are in two completely different economic classes - there’s a jealousy and anger at one person’s life being so much more streamlined than the other; a feeling that the other always gets what they want or has life all taken care of for them. While money may not buy happiness, you’re a complete liar if you don’t recognize that money and financial stability can affect the options that people have and brings certain advantages. I was born 22 years before my half-brother and my mother and stepfather are far more financially stable than my parents were when I was a kid. He has had advantages and experiences I never dreamed of his age and does not at all really understand what it means to be “poor”. When I was told of my mother’s pregnancy, I remember that I was slightly bitter that my half-sibling would never have to struggle as I did or have to take out student loans to cover what scholarships did not. I was 15 the first time I left the county - he was 5. He’s never known what it was to want to do some activity and be told that you can’t due to financial issues. This anger abated, in part, I think because there’s a significant gap between us and because I help with raising him (he calls me his Second Mother). But it was there, however briefly, so I can understand Paul and Alice’s feelings. 

Eloise is the most interesting character to me. She seems, on the surface, to be this entirely upstanding person, but honestly, in her, I see someone who does the “right’ things because she thinks it will make her look better publicly, not because she actually cares. She works for a non-profit organization because it looks good. She upgrades Alice’s hotel suite because it makes her look like a better sister, one who’s trying to bridge the gap. But, when Alice had a serious personal tragedy five years prior to the events of the novel, she didn’t fly out to see her the way Donna and Paul did. This is, of course, one of Paul and Alice’s primary problems with Eloise - that when it really matters, she’s not there. 

Of course, by the end of The People We Hate at the Wedding, the primary characters wrangle themselves into some approximation of an adjusted family. The ending isn’t definite and it’s a bit messy, but it’s a fun mess to spend a few hours with.
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Family gatherings are ripe fields of conflict in life, and in literature.  Thanksgivings, birthdays, and funerals all have the potential for drama.  The People We Hate At The Wedding, by Grant Ginder, uses the nuptials of a thirty something woman to bring to a head years of animosity between her, her half siblings, and their mother.  At times, I loved this book with it's squabbling relations, outrageous rivalries, and the gripping backstories of the main characters.  Other times, like a guest at a wedding seated next to the drunken uncle, I just wanted to stop the author from oversharing.

What I Liked: 


I like the three siblings: Eloise, Alice, and Paul.  Each has their own issues and heartbreaking backstories.  And the dynamic between the three is fascinating.  Alice and Paul always feel that Eloise is their mom's favorite, while Eloise feels like an outsider intruding on the other two's closeness.  All of them are proud and this causes misunderstandings between them.


Donna, their mom, is also a complicated character.  Her attempts to shield Paul from his homophobic father result in Paul hating his mother.  I feel she was treated very poorly by all of her children.


With the exception of Eloise, all the main characters have a preoccupation with how others think of them.  They each are rather inept, socially,  and this causes them be overly concerned with what clothes they wear, what they say, and how others treat them.  It also is the reason they let their romantic partners treat them so badly.


Sibling Interactions:

I think the siblings gossiping about the other was funny.  When one calls another, they share secrets, hang up, and them immediately call the third sibling to tell them what happened.  It doesn't mean they don't love each other, it is just that the characters can't help themselves.



I enjoyed the plot of the book and how all three siblings seem to be at a crossroads.  They are each making life-altering decisions.  Even as they are  bickering with each other, they try to help one another.  And by seeing each other's problems, they are able to look at their own problems with more clarity.

What I Didn't Like:

Crude Sex Scenes:

If you read my book reviews with some regularity, you will know that I am not a fan of graphic sex scenes.  Once in a while, they do have a place in a novel, but this book's sexy bits were over the top.  I don't know if it was because it's played as comical, but I really didn't care for the descriptions in the threesome scene.  They are crude, not sexy, and made me want to take a shower afterwards.  I would have given this book a much higher rating, had it not been for this.

If you are looking for a "clean romance" this is NOT IT.
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The People We Hate At The Wedding
Grant Ginder

What it's all about...

I swear this book felt as though it was one of the longest books I have ever read.  It's about an incredibly dysfunctional family who seem to have major issues with each other and lots of other people, too. Paul won't talk to his mother...his sister Alice has issues with her lover...his mother Donna is frustrated because her son Paul avoids her.  Paul thinks his father adored him but his mother kept his father's true feelings about Paul's sexuality from Paul.  And Paul and Alice hate their sister Eloise for no apparent reason other than she is wealthy.  Parental issues, relationship issues, sexual issues...all of these are in this book.  Do they get resolved?  You will need to read this book to find the answer.

Why I wanted to read it...

Now that I am finished with this book I don't really know why I wanted to read it.  It was one of those books that was interesting enough but really difficult to read.  The characters were not that like-able.  Paul and his partner Mark were annoying. Alice was annoying.  Donna was annoying.  I really only liked Eloise and her fiancé Ollie.  And I almost stopped liking Eloise during the white tea candle incident...almost.

What made me truly enjoy this book...

There were parts of this book that were intense and held my interest but then I would lose interest again...I can't really pinpoint why...perhaps this book was just not what I expected and not the best choice for me...personally.  I could never get past the irritating behaviors shown by Alice and Paul.  

Why you should read it, too...

Readers who love books that profile irritating family members will probably enjoy this book.  Good writing...different...just not for me.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for this eArc!

This book has a great title and fun cover, which, along with Kevin Kwan's recommendation sent out by Goodreads, were the reason I requested this title from NetGalley. Unfortunately, I didn't think the book lived up to its packaging and certainly can't be favorably compared to Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians series.

This book is about a family - centering on a mom and three siblings, one of whom had a rich dad and trust fund and two of whom did not. Eloise, the rich sib. is getting married, and everyone else, Alice and Paul, the not-rich sibs and Donna, their mom is heading to London for the wedding. Family, relationship, and personal drama ensue. 

Every character here is unlikable to the point that I didn't root for anyone. It took me 2 weeks to get through this and it is because I didn't really care about these people or about the titular wedding. The book doesn't have too much plot and is ostensibly character-driven, even switching perspectives every (long) chapter, but gosh, I just didn't care about them enough to want to know about their problems or feelings.

This may be a case of just not for me, and for what it's worth, the back half of the book moved along much faster than the draggy first half. Maybe I was just excited to be done though. If you're looking for light-ish family drama, try Curtis Sittenfeld's P&P re-write Eligible instead.
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The People We Hate at the Wedding is scores of family dynamics and dysfunction. It was like watching an upper echelon reality show chock-full of painful moments and endless entertainment.

This was my first Grant Ginder read and it won’t be my last.  The People We Hate storyline and plot were so well developed.  Ginder has a devilish knack for drawing you into unlikable characters and wanting to get to know them – he is a gifted writer!

Early on I found the characters somewhat unlikable and a bit abrasive but as the story unfolds so do their personalities, which at first glance are mere facades.  The story is told from several points of view, which works well for me because the characters are fleshed out and I get a sense of who they really are and feel drawn into the story.

My favourite character is Paul.  He drinks a lot, is full of ups, downs and pure drama – likely from imbibing too often!  I got a chuckle out of his shenanigans throughout the story.  He is a caseworker with a jerk for a boss and a crazy caseload – literally!  He recently followed his professor boyfriend, Mark to Philadelphia.  Post tenure track promotion, Mark has become dismissive and patronizing towards Paul and to make matters worse wants an open relationship – inviting others into their bedroom for casual sex.  Estranged from his mother, Donna for three years, Paul has no idea that his father harboured bigoted feelings towards his sexuality and his mother fell on her own sword protecting Paul from the truth.  Towards the end of the book he tries to right his wrong with Donna, which gets him in a hilarious predicament winding up in a foreign jail the eve of his half-sister’s wedding.  He really does wear his emotions / heart on his sleeve!

Beneath all of the humour are the real issues guiding the characters.  Paul’s sister Alice, likened to a train wreck, is really a broken soul (thanks to Mexico) and lonely.  Their half-sister Eloise isn’t a spoiled brat with a trust fund.  She wants to be a big sister and protect them but lacks understanding who Paul and Alice really are.

I like digging into great family dynamic books because they are easy to relate to, funny and entertaining.  I think anyone who likes a good laugh, drama and well-rounded characters will also enjoy The People We Hate at the Wedding.
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I devoured this book on my bus ride to NYC this weekend. I loved-hated this crazy dysfunctional family. I wanted to smack the characters most of the time, but then give them a hug in the next chapter. It also made me incredibly grateful for my functional family.

If you’re dreading going to all of the weddings this summer, I would suggest The People We Hate at the Wedding as a great reminder that with every wedding you have to go to, things could always be worse. And when you’re done reading it, go give your mom a hug (you’ll understand when you’re done).
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Grant Ginder's book wins the Best Title award, doesn't it? And then there is that cover. Look at what that photo tells you. Hilarious, in an extremely discomfiting way.

Working for a Los Angeles-based data company, Alice once had dreams of working in the film industry. Those ended catastrophically with a job and relationship in Mexico, one that, when she relates it, will break your heart. Even several years later, she can't pull herself out of the abyss she sunk into. She's in a relationship that's going nowhere, her job isn't much better, and her life is essentially as limp as her hair. So when her older, elegant, and too-perfect half-sister Eloise invites her to be a bridesmaid in her English wedding, Alice says yes.

She wants her younger brother Paul to come, too, but Paul has decided that he loathes Eloise. He's also decided that he loathes his mother Donna, not to mention himself. The only person he doesn't seem to despise is his partner, Mark, something you will find a bit ironic the further you get into the book.

Grant Ginder puts you into the perspectives of most of the characters in this book, particularly Alice, Paul, Eloise, and Donna. The more you get to know them, the more you start to wonder if perhaps they are the ones you'd hate at the wedding. These people are self-involved to an extreme. Even Eloise, whose altruism is delightfully self-serving.

I laughed so hard in parts of this book, and in others I wept. I wanted Alice to find her peace, Paul to recognize his folly, Eloise to be a little more self-aware, and Donna to realize that she did a good job and will be fine. Mostly, I enjoyed the way Grant Ginder tells this story. I loved how he drew his characters, I love how uncontrived it felt, and I love how much I grew to care about these people.

One point to make: the actual wedding is almost a non-event. I'd like to have seen more of how it played out, especially since I'd spent so much time with these people, getting to know them. Would I hate to be with them at a wedding? At the beginning, perhaps. But once the wedding rolled around, I wanted to sit at their table.
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Characters to whiny and frustrating to care about. Very slow moving plot.
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The People We Hate at the Wedding – Grant Grinder

I generally like books about dysfunctional families. They tend to make me appreciate my own dysfunctional family even more. But this book was so out of left field that I very nearly decided to give up on it, but kept plodding through it just to see how it would end.

The premise was somewhat confusing once you started reading this – yes it did deal with exactly what the synopsis claims, but the ‘why’ of it all was so stupid that I wanted to scream.

Most of this book seemed to dwell on Paul and Mark’s relationship and sexual antics. The sex part was somewhat explicit but not over the top for this sort of book. However, this made for short shrift in dealing with the other members of this family. Oh, Alice got her own part and boy was she a bit whacko, but nothing compared to her brother! And the mother, Donna, well we don’t get much on her at all.

Then there is the not so beloved step-sister Eloise (and this is where I don’t see how this could come together to make a story, even a fictional one) who is hated by her younger brother and sister. She is hated because her father left her well-off? Because she wasn’t there for her step-sister’s emergency? Well so what of it? He wasn’t their father so how could they have such horrid reactions? She had her own problems (such as they were) when her sister had her emergency. Just plain jealousy is what it all turned into.

These are three of the most unlikeable characters I have met and I think had I ever net someone like this in real life I would run not walk away from them as fast as I could run. I have never felt less for character’s as I felt with this bunch…ALL of them. Even during the worst the world threw at this crew, I felt nothing for them. They were shallow, flat, unlikeable drug addicted, drunks, and attention prostitutes.

There is some closure, but not enough.
ARC supplied by publisher/author
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If someone could take the worst moments from your life, those missteps, mistakes and bad endings and then use those as your ‘headlines’ as they precede you through every interaction with family, that would just start to explain this book. Three characters are the foundation for this book about family, dysfunction, expectations and appearances as an invitation to a wedding is received.  From the mother who doesn’t speak to her son, to her daughter and his sister who has always maintained a level of animosity, the three voices tell their stories in distinct and clearly presented voices.  While some family stories are funny, these are the stories that cling to the worst moments for each person described: messy, often mean and unapologetically amusing, if dark – as long as it isn’t your family or your story.  

There are old wounds and resentments, finding life in the facades that everyone puts up, many simply for the interactions with (and because of) family.  While we never actually get to the wedding, about half-way in these alternating viewpoints of the upcoming wedding and family dynamics, we see the partners of each person chiming in…. 

All of this presents a wonderful character study that reveals as much about the speakers as those they are speaking on: the thinly veiled insults, the pleasure in discomfiture of others, and the ability of each character to be completely blind to their own part in each dysfunctional moment.  I thought that so much of the mean-spirited humor may be wearing: but sometimes the perfectly formed phrase is JUST what is needed, providing an instant (if more than slightly jaded) image of the person, moment or scene unfolding before us.  Satire is meant to convey a touch of over-the-top actions and reactions, and most readers will be thankful that their own family and relations aren’t quite to this level, but there are bits that are sure to be familiar to many.  Far different from what I expected, the story was quick reading, cleverly phrased and hard to put down.  A favorite for those who like their wit to contain a bite, and are happy to see tumult and dysfunction that is (hopefully) far worse than that around their own gatherings. 

I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility. 

Review first appeared at <a href=” /” > <a> I am, Indeed </a>
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