Member Reviews

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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★★☆☆☆
Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close

Three things are of the upmost importance to the Sullivan clan: family, the Cubs, and their restaurant, JP Sullivan’s. This story follows along multiple members of the family after the passing of their Grandfather and restaurant founder.

I personally could not get into this story, at all. There are multiple character plot lines. I felt the story jumped around way too much, and none of the characters pulled me in with their stories. Goodreads describes this book as a comedy, which I find confusing as well.

I loved The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close, but could not get into Girls in White Dresses at all. To me, these books didn’t even feel like they were written by the same author because the writing styles were so different., but I was excited to read this novel in the hopes it would be similar to The Hopefuls. Marrying the Ketchups falls into the same bucket as Girls in White Dresses, so if you loved that book, you will love this one!

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I struggled with how to rate this book; it's probably more of a 3.5 than a 3. It's a bittersweet family story, and I like the path it takes. I wish it were a bit longer in some ways, that we had more time with each of the cousins. With several story lines, I felt like some didn't get the attention they deserve. Otherwise, a great read.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
The synopsis of this book sounded interesting to me so I requested a copy to read.
Unfortunately, I have tried reading this book on 2 separate occasions and during this 2nd attempt, I have
decided to stop reading this book
and state that this book just wasn't for me.
I wish the author, publisher and all those promoting the book much success and connections with the right readers.

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I really wanted to like this book but it just wasn't for me. It moved really slowly and early on I struggled to see what the 'point' of it was. I didn't think this book was bad by any means—it just wasn't for me.

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I enjoyed this book, especially seeing events from different points of view. However, I do think there were places where the book was a bit draggy. Overall, this was an enjoyable story.

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I'm all about books that heavily feature food or ones set in my hometown of Chicago, and this one had both. Marrying the Ketchups showcases the Sullivan family after a series of life-altering events: the results of the 2016 election, the Chicago Cubs defying all odds and winning the World Series, and the family's patriarch, Bud Sullivan, dropping dead. The book moves between different members of the family and highlights a slice of their life in the wake of these changes.

Family dramas are pretty hit or miss with me, but I really enjoyed this one. The problems faced weren't necessarily unique, yet I always looked forward to finding out what happened next to each sibling/cousin. The characters all had a sense of humor and made lots of little witty observations that made the book especially unputdownable. And the food descriptions! I don't make many highlights when I read, but I did bookmark a few food ideas that sounded divine.

The format of this novel reminded me a little bit of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, which I loved. If you're looking for a very clear plot, this may not be the book you're looking for. However, each character went on their own journey full of ups and downs. They faced obstacles, questioned their choices, but at the end of the day, they had their family to lean on.

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Really loved this book! Fell in love with the characters. Book pace was fast enough to keep me going but very descriptive as well. Very enjoyable. Love the title!

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Loved the concept. Loved the quirky characters. Could have done without the political content. I read to escape it not live it again.

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Marrying the ketchups / Jennifer Close. A year in the life of the Sullivan family, who run a restaurant in Oak Park Illinois. Loved the location of course, since thats where I live. Lots of characters to keep track of, and I wasn't that interested in their stories.

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This book will be released everywhere on April 26, 2022. Knopf Doubleday Publishing allowed me an early galley in exchange for an honest review.

Two things attracted me to this title as a possible read. First, the cover was very appealing. Second, the title evoked such a very specific imagery. Marrying ketchups is something restaurants do all the time - to combine what remains in some bottles to fill others back up. That phrase, that symbolism, is a perfect thematic metaphor for what the tale is about.

This story is very character driven, and author Jennifer Close does a great job developing her cast into a flowing familial quilt. She presents a family in transition, adjusting to the loss of its patriarch and a world full of change and uncertainty. On that latter point, it captured well that feeling so many had around 2016/2017 when the book is set.

One challenge, though, for any story is the anchoring of it to very specific times and events. On one hand, it can create a touchstone for those reading it (as it did for me). On the flip side, it can end up dating the book as the years move on and the reading encounters get further from that point. Another challenge is when there are political references - again important for this story. They are part of the background mostly, but they could alienate some readers (depending upon their viewpoint). In the past half dozen years, we've come to realize how polarized our society is. A bold choice by the author to address some of these things. I will give her extra props for the musical references from Gretchen's part of the story; I had to smile every time the name of her band was mentioned (pop culture fans like myself will get a tickle from that).

Overall, I enjoyed the story a lot. I was very happy to spend some time with the Sullivans and to get to know their family and lives.

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I couldn't get through this book. The storyline, characters, and dialogue were too cliche to keep me engaged.

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Thank you to Jennifer Close and Netgalley for allowing me to preview this ARC version of Marrying the Ketchups.

I will begin by saying that I am a true Jennifer Closer fan (I refer to her as Jen in my thoughts...we're both from Illinois, I feel that kinship and I can' t help myself!). From the moment I picked up Girls in White Dresses, I knew I'd found an author I could depend on and love. And she has proven herself to me, through her writing, over and over again. I believe Close and I are similar in age as she writes her characters according to our age range, and I have loved reading about characters that are experiencing the same sort of life alongside me.

That all being said, Marrying the Ketchups follows a cast of characters at a crossroads in their lives. Following the death of their beloved grandfather, siblings and cousins, all in their mid to late 30s, sporadically come together as they look ahead at their futures, questioning how they want their lives to end up. With Sullivan's being the base camp for the entire family, the cast weaves in and out of this restaurant that their grandfather, Bud, had built.

I loved how in depth Close wrote of each character, how she brings them to life and makes her readers feel what they're feeling; makes us feel for them in return like they're our own family. Jane was by far my favorite character in the book, as she handled her situation with the strength that I would hope any friend or family member would have as her world crashed down around her. All of the characters had a little something that I could relate to, making the book so easy for me to get into.

This is a true literary fiction novel, completely character driven and anti-climactic. It is recommended to those who like literary fiction.

Close's use of the post 2016 election throughout the book was impeccable and relatable, it didn't feel forced. And if anybody followed Close's Twitter during that time and after, they would know that she would have no problem weaving some of her own opinions throughout her novel. As a midwestern white woman living in Illinois, I can tell you that the descriptions of what her characters thought and said and how they reacted are completely spot on, at least in my own personal experiences.

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Jennifer Close spins a wide-reaching, beautifully written saga about a sprawling family and all of its love and complications. I've always adored Close's writing, and Ketchups is no exception.

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A good family saga that could have been tightened up a bit in places. Story was just too long without a lot going on.

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Marrying the Ketchups follows 3 generations of the Sullivan family over the course of one truly awful year of devastating losses both collectively and individually. It starts in the fall of 2016 with the loss of their patriarch mere days before his beloved Cubs win the World Series. With the patriarch gone, the only thing really holding everyone together is their connection to the family restaurant. One by one, Sully's grandchildren experience a myriad of additional losses that have them reeling - relationships, careers, homes. It leaves them questioning who they are and everything they thought they knew about the world. It also sends them all back home - to the family restaurant.

I honestly didn't think I would like this because it's not a genre I usually read. Like many family dramas, it wasn't a fast-moving story and the big critical event that everything built up to. wasn't anything thrilling. But by the end, I cared about the characters and it was an interesting look at how family expectations and preconceptions cause us to slip back into our old assigned roles.

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I do love a good family saga - especially one with drama and secrets. In this story, we are introduced to the Sullivan family - a multi-generational Irish family that owns a restaurant/bar in Chicago. The story begins with the death of Bud, the clan’s grandfather and founder of JP Sullivan’s restaurant. His two granddaughters, Gretchen and Jane, and their cousin Teddy are committed to keeping the restaurant open however they each have their own ideas on how best to accomplish this. As the story progresses, we discover that each of these three family members are dealing with their own set of problems and secrets.
I wanted to like this especially since I do like family saga’s - however I found this story to be extremely slow paced and at times boring. There were a few humorous parts which I enjoyed but overall I struggled to finish this book.
Special thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This novel has a lot of heart! The story revolves around a family-owned restaurant being run by three generations after the death of the family patriarch, but it really is about the love-hate relationships of family and finding your way forward in the messiness we call life. This author captures these complexities in a way that is so spot-on that I literally laughed out loud...something I honestly rarely do. I loved these characters and all of their flaws. A really enjoyable read that has me looking up other titles by this author. Thank you NetGalley and publishers for providing a digital ARC for review.

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I saw Marrying the Ketchups on a library list of anticipated Spring books. I haven’t read a review anywhere, nor had I read anything by @jenniferaclose before. I think I just liked the title, the cover, and the idea of an anti-Trump, Cubs World Series Chapionship book that takes place in a restaurant. This book ticked every box for me in the description!

That said, if you are pro-Trump, but still love the Cubs and restaraunt books, this book is not for you. It’s not a prevalent theme, but it is an underlying one, and I am here for it. The book starts in fall of 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series and Trump inexplicably wins the election. From there, we follow the lives of the Sullivan family who own a pub in Oak Park.

The family members’ stories play out like an episode of your favorite family TV show. Each chapter is devoted to a different family member. This book is engaging and hard to put down as you are eager to see how it all comes out. The ending was extremely satisfying in that everything wasn’t necessarily wrapped in a bow. This book was an excellent read!

Thank you to @netgalley @aaknopf and @jenniferaclose for my gifted copy of this ebook which publishes on April 26.

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I simply loved this book! I loved the humor. I loved the relationships of the entire family. I loved their connectedness to each other. I loved the writing and how well you got to know each character.

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