Cover Image: Marrying the Ketchups

Marrying the Ketchups

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for this ARC. As a Jennifer Close fan i was really excited and it did not disappoint. Great character development! Witty dialogue. Compelling story. I really enjoyed this book!

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This is a book that really focuses on different life stages individual family members experience in life. I found myself relating to some of the charcters i different ways. I was uncertain about it because it starts off a little political and that’s what the sole focus would be but the story line did develop. I kept wanting to learn more about the characters and how they would overcome or blossom during thier individual crisis. I would like to hear more about the characters in the future and can see this book having sequels as the characters grow and develop through life.

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Girls in White Dresses is one of my favorite books. Something about the way Jennifer Close writes just really does it for me. I absolutely loved this book. Every night I couldn't wait to get back into it but at the same time I got a little sadder each day because I was coming closer to the end of the story. I finished last night and am so sad it's over. I could have kept reading about these characters every day for a year.

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Marrying the Ketchups follows family members of the Sullivan family, primarily two sisters and their cousin, as they navigate life and all of it's obstacles, all within the background of their family restaurant. Jennifer Close is able to cover topics like death, grief, regret, divorce, and embarrassment with humor and in a way that draws the reader in with compassion. The main characters, Jane, Gretchen, and Teddy, are far from perfect. One is self-pitying, deprecating, and selfish, another is passive and hypocritical, and the last seems to suffer from a great deal of imposter syndrome. With all of these unlikable characteristics, it would be easy to assume they are unlikable characters, but instead, the author presents these flaws in a way that allows the reader to connect to them, because no one person is ever all good. We are all just infallibly human. She is also able to masterfully depict the intricacies of family life, and weave them throughout the family restaurant, Sullivan's, which in itself becomes the main character of this story.

Having come from a background of working in restaurants since I was fifteen, this novel spoke to me on so many levels. I loved the call outs of restaurant nightmares, and other little easter eggs, that only come with same history. This story is also heavily left leaning, which at first I thought could be hard to overcome for a reader with a different political background, but sometimes you have to just write what needs to be put out in the world. Jennifer Close does just that and she does it gracefully.

I give this story five stars and strongly recommend it!

Thank you NetGalley, Jennifer Close, and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for a temporary eARC in return for my honest review.

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Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close is a big, fun family saga set in an Oak Park family restaurant called Sullivan's. The novel details the lives, loves, and losses of the adult Sullivan children as they work to maintain the daily operation of the restaurant and the symbolism of putting two empty bottles of ketchup together to make a whole (though the health inspectors may frown on it). The story rotates around the Cubs winning the World Series and the presidential election of Donald J. Trump. Excellent choice for discussion groups and Chicagoans.

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This is a story about family.  JP Sullivans restaurant is a local institution in Oak Park, just outside of Chicago.  The three generations of Sulivans believe the restarurant -- run by their patriarch, Bud -- will always be the center of their family life, complete with its amazing burgers, family meals, and worship of the unwinning Cubs.  But over a strange three months in 2016, the foundations of the Sullivans' lives are tested, as Bud, the Cubs' biggest fan, unexpectedly dies just a few weeks before the Cubs, who had been perennial underdogs, win the World Series.  And all that happens only a few days before the 2016 election, which turns out much differently than the Sullvians expected.

This set of unexpected developments causes the family members, particularly Bud's grandchildren, to begin to question their lives. Gretchen, one of the grandchildren and the lead singer of a 90s cover band, questions how much longer she can continue to pursue her dreams of musical success when she sees many of her contempoaries abandoning creative careers for more steady work.  Jane, another of the grandchidlren, questions her life in a largely homogenous suburb where her neighbors -- and her husband -- seem largely indifferent to what is happening in the larger world.  And their cousin, Teddy, is at his own crossroads, having quit his job as the manager of a successful and hip restaurant to work at the family restaurant after his boyfriend dumped him -- the same boyfriend who is how regularly showing up at JP Sullivans.  And Rose, Bud's widow, is struggling with her new life without her husband, now living, quite reluctantly, in an assisted living facility.

Over the course of several months, we see how Gretchen, Jane, Teddy, Rose, and the other members of their family navigate these challenges as they figure out what they want for the future -- and what that means for their relationships with the other members of their family.

This book was terrific — warm and insightful about family dynamics and navigating an adulthood that does not meet your previous expectations. I was a huge fan of the author's previous books.  The Hopefuls is one of the books I most recommend to others.  And this book more than lived up to my high hopes.  The author does an excellent job of capturing the complex dynamics of close families -- where they can be both the most important relationships in your life *and* you can often feel that they do not understand you at all.  The stories of each of the grandchildren of the family's patriarch are distinct and equally compelling.  Because they took different paths, each of their stories illuminate a different aspect of life of adults in this day and age.  I also loved so many of the details in the book, from the description of suburban life to the name of Gretchen's band (Donna Martin Graduates).

Heartily recommended!

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I am a huge fan of Jennifer Close's work and MARRYING THE KETCHUPS did not disappoint! The author's breezy and singular voice carries through this relatable and charming story of siblings navigating their way through turning points in each of their lives. I would love a follow-up!

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This book was terrific! It explores a close-knit Chicago family at a time when the family, and society more broadly, seems to be at a crossroads. The lives of the Sullivans, the family at the heart of this book, are centered around their family restaurant outside of Chicago. The restaurant is an institution. But like many institutions, and the Sullivan family itself, its foundations come under pressure in 2016. The novel explores how the members of the family, particularly the generation that are the grandchildren of the restaurant's founder, navigate their personal and professional challenges during this challenging time as the face now uncertain futures.

The author excels at writing books that offer nuanced and sensitive portrayals of family relationships, and using those relationships and the experiences of the characters as a lens to explore what is happening more broadly in society. This book is terrific both as a family story and as an examination of how a segment of society experienced the changes over the last several years.

Highly recommend!

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Jennifer Close delivers a masterful novel of family dysfunction in MARRYING THE KETCHUPS. The Sullivan clan's restaurant feeds its customers: this novel will feed the reader's delight in their feuds and love affairs. Brimming with fully-rounded characters and teasing situations, this is a read as enticing as Close's previous works.

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I like Jennifer Close’s books, but in this one, the writing felt disjointed and awkward. .So much of the novel was descriptions and not actual plot. An interesting idea, but not her best work.

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This was a very good book, the kind that you read in one sitting. The Sullivan's are a large family that own a restaurant. They all worked in it at some point. The family was close and had each other's backs when it mattered--but they could also go to war against each other. The novel starts with Bud, the original owner and family patriarch dying. This is just the beginning of a year that throws the family into turmoil for different reasons. The book is in turns humorous and a vehicle to bring to a forefront the ongoing turmoil in the United States and the world. The author is not heavy handed in bringing up President Trump, racism and the need to recycle. She has used it as a setting for the novel. It brought reality to her characters and their story. As they go through a tumultuous year, I was cheering them on for giving us all hope that we can all go forward, changing our lives if we choose to. There is death, divorce, dating, and teenage drama throughout the book that works together to make a cohesive novel. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the gift of the ebook version ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I am in love with the Sullivan family. When an author makes a reader feel Ike part of a clan, they have done a wonderful job. Every character is developed around the nexus of Sullivan’s Restaurant, long owned and run by the family. Each character is connected to the restaurant, the city of Chicago and the Cubs.

The book is centered around four cousins, Gretchen, Jane, Teddy and Reilly. I liked all four. Close has managed to draw the reader into their lives and make them sympathetic and engaging. Each cousin is dealing with overwhelming life issues and changes. They are all so well developed that I was cheering for their futures. Close manages to pull all this together by creating a very satisfying closure.

I highly recommend this terrific novel. Book clubs should definitely add this to their calendars. I am confident that this will be a best seller next spring.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this very special novel.

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Such a delightful novel about a dysfunctional family members who deals with their mid-life crisis with their own unique ways!

3 generations of a family runs a Chicago restaurant: the founders: Bud and Rose who has heartfelt love story you may easily adore are the grandparents.

They resume their problematic lives till sudden tragedy hit them so hard: Bud: Pillar of their family passes away! This incident brings out so many bottled up feelings of three cousins who start to question their life decisions including Teddy who’s about to lose his patience as he works with his stubborn uncle who rejects any changing idea about the restaurant and his ex who keeps showing up at the restaurant holds him back, Gretchen: 90’s cover band singer, sick of surviving in NYC life style and wedding gigs she gets, moving to Chicago for a fresh start and Jane finds out her husband’s new gym habits absolutely a great sign indicates he’s aiming another women. Now she has to question what’s best for her and children after the separation!

And let’s forget Rose: trying to adjust her life in assisted living when she deals with grief, Riley granddaughter, struggling to adjust in high school life with inappropriate advances of boys and social media bombardment which ruins anything about her personal life.

The characterization was well developed. The story of the family was picking your interest. Not as interesting as the author’s previous works but it’s still well executed, good written story about self discovery, second chances, generation gaps, love, grief, fresh starts!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

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I wasn't sure what to expect but I fell in love with the Sullivan family. Jane, Teddy, and Gretchen are the main narrators, cousins who orbit the family restaurant as they struggle through life. Riley, the almost sort of cousin, struggling through high school. Grandparents Bud and Rose and their love story. Beautiful even as the family struggles, and hope remains for the future even when the future may not be to plan.

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Writing: 4/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5

Cousins Teddy, Gretchen, and Jane alternate perspectives on their not-quite-mid life crises in Chicago as Trump wins the election and the Cubs finally win the World Series just weeks after their biggest fan — famed restaurateur Bud Sullivan — passes away. His eponymous restaurant is the center of most of the action as Teddy struggles with an affair with his recently-ex, not engaged boyfriend, Gretchen is forced to leave her band, pondering her “failed experiment with adulthood,” and Jane uses a cheating husband to examine what she wants in life (hint: it turns out not to be him).

It’s a fun story with a decent amount of insight as characters figure out how to keep going in a world that seems to be falling apart. Great family dynamics and social commentary.

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Good, but not great, probably my least favorite of her books, but she's a good writer. I enjoyed the characters and setting, but the plot moved very slowly.

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This book partially entertained me and partially irritated me -- I think it was one of those "is it too soon" moments to relive 2016 and everything happening after the election. I felt it does have a political lean to the story and while it influences the story, I could have done without it.

The story itself is entertaining - a large, 3 generational family in Chicago that runs a famous restaurant. Bud and Rose, the originals -- their children -- and their grandkids. They all start to question their lives when things start getting strange after Bud passes away. Teddy dealing with working with an uncle unwilling to change anything in the restaurant - and his ex-boyfriend showing up again and again. Gretchen is a 90s cover band singer, tired of her NYC life and doing wedding gigs so she moves back to Chicago. Jane and her husband, who is cheating on her, and her kids. Rose is in assisted living and has to be coaxed to leave her room. Riley is in high school and dealing with social media and inappropriate gestures by boys in her class. The restaurant is what holds them together, and most of the story revolves around that - family.

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for a temporary, digital ARC in return for my review.

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