Cover Image: Marrying the Ketchups

Marrying the Ketchups

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Member Reviews

Set in the not so distant past, Marrying the Ketchups is a story of a Chicago family, unofficially reunited after their beloved patriarch, Bud, dies unexpectedly.

Bud was not only the glue that held the family together, he also was at the helm of their family restaurant, JP Sullivan’s, for years. But Sullivan’s, a long time staple of the community, has begun to show its age as well. Now the next generation is forced to take over and keep things afloat, all while trying to juggle their own issues.

This story centers around three main characters in the Sullivan family. There’s Gretchen, the family “wild child” who had dreams of making it big in music. But when her band, Donna Martin Graduates (love this, btw), ends playing more weddings then stadiums and her man child of a boyfriend strays, Gretchen realizes it’s time to move on. To where, however, is another question entirely.

Then there’s Jane, Gretchen’s always put together, successful older sister. Jane is married and living the dream in the posh suburbs with her husband and two kids. So everyone, including, Jane is shocked realize the perfect life she’s been living was actually anything but. Floundering, Jane is also at a crossroads where the path isn’t easy to find. Rounding out the three is Teddy, Gretchen and Jane’s people pleasing cousin who wants to help everyone, but doesn’t even know how to help himself.

All in varying stages of disarray, they end up starting over at the place where it all began, Sullivan’s. Sometimes you just wanna go where everybody knows your name, even if your name is attached to burgers and broken dreams.

Marrying the Ketchups was a sometimes hysterical, often poignant snapshot of the American family, and in many ways, the American dream. With frustration and fear embedded into the story, author @jenniferaclose also doesn’t shy away from politically related strife that scared many Americans, just a few short years ago. It’s also chock full of relatable memories of my own youth. I’ve always been drawn to family stories, perhaps because I don’t come from a big family myself. It’s all of this, coupled with the restaurant backdrop, that pulled me in and gave me comfort- just like only a good meal, and a good story, can.

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Superficially this book is a family drama set in and about their restaurant. In truth the novel is about tradition, cultural and social change, and the tinder-box of 2016. We have Bud, who built Sullivan's in the fine restaurant of it's time. Charlie inherits Sullivan's from his father, and although he sees that business isn't as good as it once was, he doesn't want to change anything about it. The next generation, grandchildren Teddy, Jane and Gretchen, see that without change to the restaurant it will be out of business soon. Having been denied the opportunity to save Sullivan's, they embark on their own, bringing a little bit of Sullivan's with them (marrying the ketchups, don't 'cha know).

The reviewers who criticize the book for including political statements are missing the point. The novel was set during that time because it was/still is a polarizing time of uncertainty. Families, friendships and communities were harmed by the vitriol engendered by the 2016 election. The characters in the novel are just reflecting what went on in society. The gift of this novel is what happens next: we all survive and do well. Through her cast of likeable, realistic characters, Close shows us that we're going to be okay. And that's just what we need to hear.

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Jennifer Close writes a character driven family drama in Marrying the Ketchups. Family dynamics, transitions and grief all play a large role in the novel. I was interested and invested in discovering what happens with them. And I appreciate that they find growth as they adapt along the way.

This book chronicles a family in Chicago with the Cubs winning their first world series in over a hundred years and then Trump being elected president. This is the backdrop of Marrying the Ketchups. There is death, divorce, dating and teenage drama along with the political election and racism. Close details a challenging year for this family.

This isnt a book with huge twists and turns. The pacing is slow following the standard family interactions. I loved reading about a completely relateable family and I enjoyed the humor that runs through the Close's book.

Thank you to NetGalley, Jennifer Close and Knopf Publishing Group for a seat at the table of this quirky family.

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This just isn’t my kind of book. It’s definitely well written, but so slow. It’s all about the individual characters and nothing really happened to keep my attention. I rarely stop reading halfway through a novel, but I did with this one.

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3-4 stars. I don't think this is one that is going to have long term staying power in my memory bank, but it was an enjoyable reading experience. I think it was a solid decision to set this story in a time of high highs and low lows (the Cubs winning the world series in 2016 and the election only days later) as it mirrored the confusion all the main characters are going through in their personal lives. Complicated family stories are always welcome, and this family's dramas were interesting, and the suburban Chicago setting felt lovingly done.

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MARRYING THE KETCHUPS by Jennifer Close is a fun story about a restaurant family who live in the Chicago area. Frequent references to Oak Park and Lake Forest, plus the 2016 election add local connection and some amusement. Close begins the story in 2016 with the "unfamiliar experience of watching the Cubs in October" at Sullivan's, founded decades ago by Bud and Rose. The majority of the action centers around their adult grandchildren: Gretchen, just moved back from NYC after quitting her band; Jane, mother to Lauren and Owen and struggling to find herself as she contemplates divorce; Teddy, feeling disrespected despite his restaurant experience and unhappy with his relationship with ex-lover Walter; and Riley, Teddy's much younger half-sister who supplies some typical teenage angst. All in all, a pretty dysfunctional group and that makes for tension, but the best part is near the end when each manages to start fresh. Perhaps we will see a sequel soon? Full of realistic, relatable characters, MARRYING THE KETCHUPS received a starred review from Booklist.

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A multi-generational story of the Sullivan family who are in the restaurant business, while complicated at times, is a light hearted romp.

Set just after the 2016 Presidential election and right after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Bud the patriarch has just passed away leaving the family to ponder their lives and what’s next for them and the restaurant.

Gretchen returns home, from leading a 90’s cover band, and comes back to help at the restaurant. Jane, her older sister, is deciding if divorce is her next step, after her husband voted for the wrong person, and is possibly having an affair. Lastly, there is Teddy who manages the restaurant and is pining away for his ex-boyfriend Walter.

This really is just a fun family read. I did not walk away with anything grand, but just enjoyed the time I got to spend with this family, where love is in abundance, but everyone has their own quirks.

Thank you NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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I absolutely loved this charming novel! It is told primarily from the viewpoints of sisters Gretchen and Jane, and their cousin Teddy - all third generation members of a Chicago restaurant family, and each dealing with their own issues. It’s more of a character-driven novel than a plot-driven novel - basically a slice of life covering a year or so - but what wonderful characters and writing!

This is the kind of book where there were just countless great lines - some I laughed out loud at, some moved me, some i just was thought wow, that’s so true/relatable. And it was the kind of book where I teared up a little when I finished it just because I didn’t want it to be over and leave the characters behind!

I’ve read and enjoyed all of Jennifer Close’s books, and her book The Smart One was one of my top 10 books of 2014 - and funnily enough I just looked up my review and pretty much sad the previous sentence verbatim in that review too! If you haven’t read her books before, think the kind of witty, insightful family/character type books of Abbi Waxman and Emma Straub.

4.5 stars

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I felt such a strong emotional pull towards this book. It reads like a love letter to Chicago. Being born and raised in Chicago this book just spoke to me. Pushing it further is this book is set in the time period that the cubs won the World Series. I’m a sox fan (don’t come at me) but also a Chicago fan and I remember being at a party with our close friends who are Cubs fans and the feeling of that night. This book really captures the emotions of that time.
I found myself taking notes of so many Chicago things I loved. Swipe to see one of the most nostalgic moments for me. (I’m pretty sure I was at that concert!)
This book is set at the family restaurant Sullivans where they know three things to be true. The Cubs are always underdogs, history is inevitable and their grandfather will always make the best burgers in Oak Park. When Bud dies, the Cubs win the World Series and the election occurs everything seems off.

The family bonds in the restaurant where they deal with life’s largest failures and greatest successes together .
This book is out tomorrow! Thank you @aaknopf for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review:

Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close

This is a really cool perspective for a family saga where the restaurant is also a member of the family and plays a different part in each person's life. Gretchen, Jane, and Teddy are poised to take over the restaurant as they return to the family business from other failed endeavors.

I really liked the way the story played out and the way the family was brought together. Family saga can be frustrating because there are so many characters involved and it can be hard to keep up, but it felt like all the characters were really well developed here and you were rooting for them all to succeed.

Thanks @netgalley and @aaknopf for this advanced reader!

Marrying the Ketchups releases on April 26! Make sure to add it to your TBR!

#BookReview #Bookstagram #JenniferClose #MarryingTheKetchups #Knopf #BookishLife #Reading #InstaBooks #BookPhotography #BookRecommendations #Bibliophile #GirlsWhoRead #BookNerd #Netgalley #FamilySaga #Fiction

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What a great family drama!!!
When I requested a copy of this book, I really didn’t know much about it except that I loved the title and that it takes place in Illinois where I live.
This is a story about multiple generations of the Sullivan family. Each family member has their own trials and tribulations but they go through it together and the restaurant stays in the center of what brings them together.
I really liked this book. It wasn’t as propulsive as I had hoped, but character driven novels are usually like that for me. None the less, I wanted to keep reading because I needed to know what happened with each family member.
I loved the clever title (esp once I found out what it means) and I loved the characters. I really enjoyed this book and if you are looking for an easy read with some family drama then this book is for you!

Thank you #netgalley and #KnopfDoubleday for an advanced copy of #marryingtheketchups in exchange for my honest review. #jenniferclose

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Before I started this one, I was already a Jennifer Close fan and was excited to see a new release from her.

A family in Chicago loses its patriarch at a hard time and must decide what the future of both the family and their restaurant will look like. There are three main characters that are all from one generation, a set of sisters - Jane and Gretchen and their cousin Teddy, all have drama of their own going on as the story begins and through the support of each other and their family will figure out what is next for each of them.

I loved the characters, the plot, the setting and the storyline, but the way this book was put together made for a confusing and difficult read. Within each chapter, all of the characters are given the chance to move their story along, but I just wish it had been more labeled and easier to read. I love when characters get their own chapters and it is sweetly labeled and I wished that for this book. With such a large cast, the family chart at the beginning was helpful, but it took awhile for me to get everyone figured out.

Again, I love Jennifer Close and the characters she creates are full and human, I just had a hard time at the beginning getting into the groove of this one and that isn't typical when I read her backlist. I hope we won't have to wait as long for her next!

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I did not know what to expect with this book but was interested because it takes place in the Chicagoland area where I live. I absolutely loved this book! The book takes place around the Cubs winning (finally!) the World Series in 2016 through present day and is focused on a family that owns a restaurant in a Chicago suburb. The author does a fabulous job defining each of the characters from multiple generations. I also really cared about each of the characters and appreciated their struggles and achievements as they each find their way in life. This was such a fun read and I couldn't put it down. I even learned what the title "Marrying the Ketchups" means. This is the first book of Jennifer Close I have read and am now interested in reading more of her fiction. I highly recommend this book. Thanks so much to Knopf Doubleday and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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I expected an intertwined story of a family bound together by a business, blood, and memory from Jennifer Close's MARRYING THE KETCHUPS. I got that -- and so much more. Wonderfully written, artfully told, this story grabbed me by the neck and wouldn't let go. I fell in love with the characters in all of their messy perfection -- deeply enjoyed all the different views of the same restaurant, of life, and what it means to have a common story. A masterful tale. I received an early reader copy of this book and these opinions are my own unbiased thoughts.

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This family saga set in the Chicago area will likely hold appeal for those who
enjoy stories with multiple strands of situations involving multiple family members.

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If you like funny family dramas, Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close is worth picking up! Here’s the set-up: It’s 2016. The Cubs are in the World series, Trump is elected president, and the patriarch of the Sullivan family, Bud, unexpectedly passes away. The family restaurant, Sullivan’s, suddenly becomes the home base for Bud’s grandchildren: Gretchen, who gives up her wedding band career; Jane, whose marriage is in trouble; Teddy, who is searching for love; and Riley, a rebellious teen. Marrying the Ketchups is a character-driven novel that focuses on family, loss and love in a turbulent and changing America.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, though I often found myself trying to reorient myself in the story and remember all the different characters (there are a lot!). The 2016 election was so divisive and difficult, and I felt that Jennifer Close did a really good job describing the aftermath of the election, both within families and in the larger society. The book deals with a lot of issues, including infidelity, racism, politics, and sexual abuse, but it’s often funny and I really did come to adore these characters.

Recommended for fans of Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and Emma Straub.

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This novel was such a pleasant surprise! It follows the Sullivan family after the death of its patriarch Bud who owned and ran a restaurant and who loved the Chicago Cubs. The story starts in 2016, just as the Cubs win the World Series and Trump wins the election. The storyline focuses on 3 of the cousins, Gretchen, Jane, and Teddy, and the twists and the turns of their lives which causes them to reconnect at the family restaurant.
I really enjoyed this family drama which digs into the expectations and viewpoints of different family members. As one of 18 cousins, I know how each cousin can sometimes gets pigeon-holed into a certain role which often causes resentment. Close’s writing pulled me in and made me feel like I knew the Sullivan clan.
Since I’m not familiar with the restaurant business, I also learned where the title Marrying the Ketchups came from 😉 I highly recommend it to those who like a character-driven family drama.
Thanks so much to Knopf Doubleday and Netgalley for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Sullivan family ran a popular restaurant in the Oak Park suburb of Chicago. The patriarch, Bud, was a avid Cubs baseball fan but died right before the Team won the World Series. His wife, Rose, soon broke her hip and ended up in an Assisted Living facility.
The story is told from the point of view of several of the younger Sullivans. Gretchen was a musician who sang in a band in NYC for many years before returning to the family and work in the restaurant. Her sister Jane, was the responsible one who had been an accountant but was now married with 2 young children. Teddy, the girls’ cousin, had worked in other restaurants but returned to Sullivan’s. He thought that he was more experienced than his uncle Charlie and should be in charge of the restaurant now that Bud was gone.
I enjoyed the book. It examines the dynamics of an Irish American family and their family business, a popular but aging local restaurant. Many readers will recognize personalities and rituals from their own families.
One of the few things that bothered me was allowing Gretchen to attend expensive NYU when her ambition was to be a musician. There were better choices for schools if one wanted a career in music.
I received this ARC from the publisher and Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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Marrying the Ketchups is a character-driven family drama about a large Catholic family from Chicago who own a restaurant called JP Sullivan’s. The book follows three members of the Sullivan family as they deal with the aftermath of three life-altering events in the fall of 2016, all within a few weeks of each other: the 2016 election; the Chicago Cubs finally wining the World Series; and the sudden death of Bud, the family patriarch and owner of Sullivan’s restaurant. The title refers to the practice of combining condiments from two half-empty bottles to make a full bottle and serves as a metaphor throughout the novel.

The story unfolds through the point of view of three 30-something cousins of the Sullivan clan: Gretchen, who sings in a band in NYC but starts to grow disillusioned with her life; her sister Jane, a stay-at-home mother of two whose marriage has hit a rough patch; and their cousin Teddy, who was recently dumped by his boyfriend and comes to work at Sullivan after Bud’s passing in hopes of one day running the restaurant himself.

In Marrying the Ketchups, Close created a character study of a family struggling with transition, uncertainty, and grief. The novel is well-written and readers will get a deep sense of who these characters are. However, I do wish there would have been a little more plot to carry the story along. Many of the characters are struggling in their relationships and their place in society. But I finished the book feeling like not much other than that happened. I am usually a fan of characters over plot but in this case, I was left wanting just a little more plot.

This was a fast read for me and I did enjoy meeting the Sullivans. I just wish there was more happening with each of them besides the three events that are the catalyst for the novel. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys character-driven family dramas like We Are the Brennans.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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I love family books and while this one was not "generational" it still closely follows a somewhat close-knit family that owns a restaurant. There needs to be a huge disclaimer that this book is liberal and pretty anti-Trump which is weird for a book, but I'm here for it. An interesting new genre of books. I was immediately intrigued when I learned that the name of the band for one of the characters is Donna Martin Graduates ( one of my favorite BH 90210 episodes ever). From there we meet the Sullivans and they all struggle and live life. At times, the book was a bit mundane ( as life is) but I enjoyed the overall story and seeing where everything went.

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