Cover Image: The Celebrants

The Celebrants

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Member Reviews

Steven Rowley's The Celebrants is a delight! If you loved The Gungle, I'm confident you'll enjoy this as well. It has that same perfect mix of dark humor and wholesomeness you didn't know you needed. Thank you, NetGalley and Penguin Group, for an advanced copy of this book.
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Loved this “getting the band back together” nostalgic novel.  Steven Rowley has become a must buy author for me. a feel-good vibe in all that he writes.
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I have thought about this book often after finishing it.
These characters...they stick with you. They're too large to contain in the pages of this book. They come alive as you read them. They live on, evoking the feelings of life long friends, after their tale has finished. 
I want to snuggle up in a warm sweater with a cup of tea and chat with these characters about how their week has been. I want to go on vacation with them to Italy and walk around chatting, laughing, and drinking wine. That is how good Steven Rowley's writing is. 
The author makes you fall in love with the characters in this book. He does such a good job of this that you still love them even though at times you'd like to yell at them, kick them, and tell them to go fuck themselves. 
While this story ends perfectly, I selfishly want to know more about the group of misfits its pages contain.
What a lovely thing it is to have been given the opportunity to read this book. I can't recommend it enough!
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Wow What an emotional book! I enjoyed Guncle by Steven Rowley but this one was so much more.
I highly recommend it and I was lucky enough to receive a copy from NetGalley. Thank You!!
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*****Publishing May 30, 2023*****

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Naomi, Craig, Marielle, Jordy, Jordan, and Alex all met as transfer students at Berkley, where they became friends. They all graduated in 1995 except for Alex because he had unexpectedly died. At that point,  this group decided that they needed to get together for “living funerals”, an excuse to get together to show how much they mean to each other. When life gets hard, they are supposed to call the group together for a celebration of their life. On Jordy’s “living funeral” trip, Jordan has to inform them his cancer has spread and he doesn’t have long. This news brings them closer to making it extra special for Jordan as well.

This heartfelt book is about the importance of friendships. When a friend dies in your friend group, you realize how precious life is, so you make time to do regular get-together instead of waiting for a funeral when everyone is forced to come together. A clever preface to a book! Why not take the time to support/celebrate with each other when everyone is still alive! A great book club pick as this book would lead to meaningful discussions! 

Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Putnam (G.P. Putnam's Sons ), I was provided an ARC of The Celebrants by Steven Rowley via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  #TheCelebrants #NetGalley
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Sometimes the right book comes along at the right time and makes a genuine impact on your current outlook on life. Steven Rowley's latest novel The Celebrants, about a group of friends who make a pact to throw each other funerals while they're still alive (to remind them how much they're loved), captures so many of the complicated feelings that come with getting older - the pain of looking back at life's disappointments, the sinking feeling one wasted too much time on insignificant things, the awful realization that you're going to keep losing people as you go along. It's heavy stuff, but this book has a high emotional intelligence and celebrates life and friendship in such an affirming way - it all just made me want to reach out to everyone I know to tell them how great they are. It's also consistently witty without trying too hard, the story moves through multiple timelines in a way that feels natural and not confusing, and the funerals are all unique and memorable (my favorite was the skydiving one). Only complaint: I didn't feel like the Jordans were that distinguishable from one another and I kinda of just thought of them as one person. I know some couples can be that way but here I just wanted a little more of their separate interior worlds. Loved this for so many reasons but especially for reminding me to enjoy life and give love unconditionally.
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Rowley did it again. his books are funny while still being deep. I really loved the story line to this one. it is different than his other books but in the best way. I highly recommend for the spring summer!
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Pub date: 5/30/23
Genre: books about friends, contemporary fiction
Quick summary: After a brush with death, Jordan and his friend group have a pact to celebrate "living funerals" for each member when they need it the most. And their secrets mean that they need each other more than ever.

I loved THE GUNCLE, but THE CELEBRANTS didn't hit quite the same for me. There are five friends in the group, but I didn't feel attached to them, and that's so important in a character-driven story. For example, one couple is Jordy and Jordan, and it took me until more than halfway through the book to reliably be able to name who was who. I liked the overall message of celebrating the people you love everyday, but this book didn't resonate with me as much as I had hoped. However, it seems like a lot of reviewers enjoyed this one more than I did!

Thank you to Putnam Books for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Another engaging read by Rowley. I adored the Guncle and Lily and the Octopus so much that as soon as the words “new book” were uttered I was sold and knew I would be reading it! I was so excited for the opportunity to be an early reader. 

The night after one of their own is tragically taken away from them, a group of seven college friends form a pact: a promise to reunite every few years to throw each other "living funerals," constant reminders that life is worth living, if not for them then for their late friend.

Now, twenty-eight years into the hard-worn lines of adulthood, their "funerals" only remind them of all the opportunities they missed. But when one member of the old gang receives an unexpected diagnosis, the pact takes on new meaning, and each friend is forced to confront old secrets, and weigh their now-middle-age lives against the idealistic dreams of their youth.

✨ The Celebrants oozes that signature Rowley wit, humor, and emotional impact. I love his writing so much. He had me feeling the whole gamut of feels while reading. Each character is throughly developed and I enjoyed that we get to see them in both past/present timelines. Showing us how they’ve changed/grown.

✨ A wonderful character driven story about celebrating lifelong friendships, and living with intention. I loved the living funerals concept, and could totally see myself doing this with my friends. 

Mark your calendars! The Celebrants is coming 5/30/23

Thank you to NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Putnam, C.P Putnam Sons for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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I was so excited to see Steven Rowley was publishing a new book in 2023 after loving The Guncle a few years ago. To this day it's a story that I recommend to my friends whenever they're on the hunt for a feel good story. The author goes a different route this time with The Celebrants: a group of college friends who reunite throughout their lives to host each other's funerals... celebrations to remind themselves that life is worth living -- and living well. It was inspired by the loss of one of their closest friends early on in their friendship and they didn't get to say how much that person meant to each of them, and they were determined to never let that happen again. If that sounds like something that will require tissues nearby, then you're totally right. 

I equated the characters from this story to my college best friends. I'm 8 years post-graduation at the time of writing this review and to this day I still have a group chat with my friends and we make an effort to see each other at least once a year, despite all of us now living in different parts of the USA. The scenery found throughout the story was also super similar to my real life experiences, where as a group we make an effort to travel to different places together. I think after reading this story I'll make sure my friends and I forgo any sky diving activities (or attempts at flying the plane!)

I love the message that concludes this story: "tell a loved one the positive impact they've had on your life so that they are never left to guess. I promise you'll be glad you did." I had tears in my eyes as I closed the book for the final time! It's a great reminder that you don't always know what a friend or close loved one is going through and just a simple text message checking in on them and telling them how much they mean to you can go a long way. 

I can see this one adapted into a movie on some kind of streaming service. This was really character driven and I can picture quite a few actors/actresses who would excel at bringing these characters to life. 

Overall, this was an emotional ride that Steven takes us on. The Guncle still wins out as my favorite story by him, but the message this story projects will stick with me for a long time!
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A book about friendships and making sure to tell those you love why. The book begins with friends losing a loved one. They make a pact to do a “living funeral” from then on if any of the friends wants to hear how and what everyone loves about them. We rotate and time and perspective. The friends are about my age so there’s a lot of references to time periods I reflect on with tenderness and joy. That said I really had a hard time getting into this book. I found the writing and characters a bit wooden and just didn’t enjoy reading about them all that much. It was ok. I think people will enjoy this but not as much as Guncle.
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This is by far the best book I have read in 2023!! Steven Rowley knows how to tug at your heart strings and make you cry, but also knows how to make you laugh in the very next sentence. He is a literary god!! This book will make you very nostalgic and will have you wanting to give your current friends and college friends hugs and more hugs. This is one to add to the top of your list this summer!
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The  Celebrants 
By Steven Rowley 
Pub Date May 30 
G.P. Putnam 
Thanks to the author, publisher,and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 
Fiction, Contemporary, LGBT 
Thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. 
I was looking forward to reading this novel because I adored Guncle last year. This book penetrates your soul. I highly recommend. 
4 stars
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Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC.  I love Steven Rowley's writing and found this book to be an interesting and engaging read.  What if you celebrated your life with the people who know you best while you are still living?  That is the question this book poses and I found the relationships in the novel to be well-formed and interesting.  I will definitely be recommending this book.
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We follow a group of college friends who have been honoring a pact they made after they lost one of their own.  They have been throwing each other "living funerals" in times of need to help each other when it counts. The reason they have been called together this time is a little different, and an interesting twist. This was a story about the power of friendship. I loved The Guncle and just liked this, but I respect the good writing and the point of the story. The comparisons to The Big Chill are accurate.

Thank you, Penguin and Net Galley, for allowing me to review this advanced reader copy.
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this new novel.

I LOVE "THE GUNCLE" and was so happy when I was approved for this new one! It was one of my most anticipated books of 2023 and I'm so disappointed 😱 

There was nothing that pulled me into the story and I couldn't connect with any of the characters. For me, it was boring to read about their past "funerals" and I wish the story had started in present time. If Steven wasn't one of my favorite authors I would have put it down but now I struggled through. I thought it would be so much can this be the same author that wrote "The Editor" which I also loved? Oh man. 

I will definitely read his next book but this was not fun.
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Steven Rowley knows how to write a book! Just like The Guncle, this one packed the funnies and a ton of emotion. I really enjoyed it!
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Rowley does it again!   Weaving together the complex emotions and pouring depth and heart into characters, The Celebrants takes a unique idea - living funerals - and immerses the reader into the lives of this group of friends as they live life and navigate grief, love, heartache, fear, and pressures everyone faces.   Quirky moments peppered throughout that feel like signature Rowley charm can be found as each friend summons the group for a funeral in their honor with the goal of leaving nothing left unsaid.     What seems like it would have been an impossible next step to follow The Guncle's success -  The Celebrants explores living life and loving one another.  Definitely worthy of picking up this gem of a novel!
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THE CELEBRANTS is a special tribute to the people that pull us up and buoy us onward. The story follows a group of college friends that make a pact to celebrate life through living funerals. Although the years go by and life takes them in different directions they still gather to express their love for one another and remember that life is worth living.

The way that friendship and grief was explored in this character-driven story was beautifully done. I think there is something a bit special about maintaining friendships from college and . continuing to do life with the people who knew you when your heart was brimming with optimism and the world felt a little less jaded.

In true Steven Rowley fashion, the story strikes the perfect balance of heart and humor. Through the hardships these characters face, he reminds readers that living in intentional community is messy but life-giving. I loved the way Rowley encourages us to be intentional with the people in our lives and not take their presence for granted. In the midst of challenges it may not feel natural or convenient to let others in but it is always worth it.

-Enjoy friendships that span decades with 90s inside joke throwbacks
-Have a deep love for nostalgic traditions
-Appreciate a heartfelt look at grief and the people that we choose to keep

PUB DATE: May 16, 2023

Many thanks to Penguin Group Putnam and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

review will be posted to in advance of publication date
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I really enjoy Steven Rowley’s books. They’re full of complicated relationships, explorations of grief, heartwarming moments, and queer characters. The plot of The Celebrants follows a group of college friends who lose one of their members in their senior year. They vow to throw each other funerals while they’re still alive so they can be reminded of how valuable and loved they are.

I liked getting to see glimpses of the characters at different points in their lives. They all had distinct personalities, and it was fun to view what they were like in college versus later on in middle age. Their friendship also seemed realistic, they move to different places and don’t talk all the time. But when a member of the group was experiencing a low point and called them together to have a funeral they were all there.

There’s a good mix of emotions and tones throughout the book. There are fun, silly moments and heartfelt moments of people connecting with one another and realizing their importance. I definitely recommend checking this book out. While there are sad or heavy topics brought up I never felt like the book was depressing or melodramatic.
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