Cover Image: The Celebrants

The Celebrants

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Member Reviews

I loved this authors previous book so when I saw this one I jumped on it. I love the fun and punny writing style. Even in the harder moments there is a lightness while still showing depth and pain.
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The Celebrants by Steven Rowley. Pub Date: May 30, 2023. Rating: 3 stars. I so wanted to love this story, but alas I only found it to be okay. With themes of death, cancer, living a fulfilling life and friendship, this is a somber and emotional read. I was intrigued by the premise of friends who made a pact for living funerals for each other and thought this novel would have more substance, but it fell flat for me. I felt there were too many characters and it was a struggle to really get to know each of them and their stories. I will still read Steven Rowley books though! Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Putnam for this e-arc in exchange for my honest review. #netgalley #thecelebrants
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What a fun sophomore novel by the amazing Steven.  I loved  it and loved the cover I’ll continue to read more by the author.
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I  did not like any of these people. Since they did nothing but carp at each other constantly, I did not get the impression that they liked each other all that much either. And giving 2 of the men the same name was annoyingly twee, and just designed to ensure that I could never tell them apart. I made it to the 76% point of the book and couldn’t stand it anymore. I skipped to the last chapter. I really liked “The Editor” by this author, and “The Guncle” wasn’t bad, but this book was not for me. 2.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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So first I want to mention I adore this author and really enjoyed his last book The Guncle. 

This book had a lot of things about it that drew me in. However I couldn’t get into it. It just didn’t meld with me as the reader. I didn’t enjoy the flip flop of timelines. I also don’t think I was prepared for the grief side of it. I just didn’t feel connected I felt myself pulling away not wanting to read it. So sadly this story was not for me. I do love this author and will try the next book. But this one was a no go.
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I just couldn’t get into this book. I didn’t feel a strong connection to the characters and felt like the story line was too slow to progress to force myself to finish it.
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This author deals with death themes. Let's just start with that before you read this book. The books are amazing and enjoyable and well written while also being funny and charming. But you need to be in the correct head space. This author does an amazing job with these themes and I highly recommend any and all of his books. His characters are also fairly diverse which I appreciate.

In this one, a group of friends make a pact after their friend dies in college. They agree to have living funerals for each other when they are at their lowest point. The goal is to provide each other with love when they most need it instead of waiting to celebrate their lives after they are no longer there.
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I enjoyed Rowley’s novel, The Guncle, which came out in 2019. When I was invited to read and review The Celebrants, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, it didn’t do a thing for me. Nonetheless, my thanks go to Net Galley and Putnam Books for the review copy. This book is for sale now. 

As a child, we once had a bird bludgeon itself to death on our sliding glass door, unable to accept that the invisible barrier was really there. Reading this book made me feel just a bit like that bird. I’d liked Rowley’s last book. Other Rowley fans liked this book. So why…(BAM!)…why…(BAM!)…why could I not get into it? 

I think it all boils down to privilege. 

Had I read the premise more carefully, I might have avoided this trap. A group of seven college friends, grief-stricken after losing the eighth friend, agree to meet every few years and give each other mock funerals to celebrate the lives that still exist among them. 

What rarefied conditions must exist to make such a thing possible? Imagine having the resources to be able to drop everything and fly off to wherever the meeting is held. Air fare. Childcare. Housing. But as I read the abundant dialogue in this thing, such trivialities are seldom mentioned. These are people that for the most part came from money, and they have money now, and they assume they will have as much, if not more, in the future. 

Of course, the story is not about money and privilege. It’s about taking stock of their current lives and comparing them to their youthful expectations. There are secrets. There is baggage. And now, in their middle aged years, they are older, wiser, and in many ways, sadder. 

Oh honey. They think they’re old now? My ass!  My children are middle aged. Get a grip. 

So okay, I am probably not the ideal audience; and yet, I will remind you that I didn’t volunteer for this. I was selected. Someone clearly believed that I am within the target audience. 

I initially felt some of this when I began reading The Guncle. The protagonist there was a successful actor with a pile of money; and yet, the challenges he faced, first with the death of his partner, and then with the homophobic relative that tried to keep him from taking the children that had been entrusted to him, won out. The presence of well-written children helped a good deal, and the humor was completely on point. I cannot fail to appreciate an author that can make me laugh out loud. 

I didn’t laugh out loud this time.  It’s grim, but it’s wealthy-people grim, not working class grim. If you don’t know the difference, then we all know which one you are.  I rolled my eyes a great deal, but it’s even harder to read when you do that, so I borrowed the audio from Seattle Bibliocommons. It didn’t help a bit, apart from making it possible to take in the book and roll my eyes at the same time. 

I see that this title has been nominated for the Goodreads Choice awards, so clearly, a lot of people have loved this book. But I am not one of them. 

Recommended to rich people that believe their lives to be harder than they actually are.
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DNFed at 41%. I absolutely loathe every single character in this book. I tried. I tried so dang hard because Rowley is a Bookstagram favorite. But this one? I just couldn't do it. I even moved to the audio version and that did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for me.
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I went into this book with high hopes but it just wasn’t a good fit for me. I had a hard time connecting with any of the main characters and felt like I didn’t get enough time to understand them before their many, many issues were brought into play in the storyline. The overall message was positive but there aren’t a lot of funny or lighter moments to help the story progress.
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Thank you to the publisher for a free netgalley. 

Not going to lie. I went into this with low expectations because I kept seeing not great reviews. After reading, I feel as if people went into this thinking it would be like the Guncle. The Guncle had heavy moments, but The Celebrants is heavy from start to finish. 

We follow a group of 5 (were 6), and at their friend's funeral they decide that each one of them gets one funeral while they are alive. This is when they need it. When they're having a moment in life where they feel at the bottom. 

While the story begins, it floats back and forth between the Jordans (present time) and the past. The past includes some college life. Then throughout the book, we get closer to 2023. Between the present day Jordans chapters, we get to see when each friend pulls the funeral card. 

I thought this book was amazing to be honest. I loved the story and I found myself getting emotional at each "funeral".

Why I took one star was the format. The section for each funeral was long. And I am fine with that. But instead of making chapters inside each section, Rowley wrote them as one long chapter. So I felt like there was not a good place to stop. I can see why this turns readers off as 40 page chapters don't do it for a lot of people. 

But I recommend. I think this is a great story about friendship and how life changes but those friendships can last.
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I had a bit harder time connecting with the characters in this book than I expected (I absolutely loved and adored the Guncle); however, I love the message of friendship/family The Celebrants was conveying
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I love Steven Rowley now and forever. While I didn't LOVE this book as much as the ever so sweet THE GUNCLE, I did completely and thoroughly enjoy this, love the characters, and feel and care and laugh my way through. 
Maybe its because I'm a 90s kid, but the music references and the college memories truly hit home for me - as they ring true for the author. He is a gem and I'll always read everything and anything he writes.
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I'm really grateful that I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review because I LOVED The Gruncle!! However, I've tried reading this book for months and I can't seem to move past the subject matter. Not the fault of the book or writing style, I can't tackle the book's themes right now and I would love to give this book a fair and honest review when I am in a better mental space for it!
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This was close to a 4.5 star read for me. 
Much like Rowley’s first book, The Guncle, The Celebrants broke my heart and made me laugh out loud all at the same time. 
Centered around a group of friends who met in college who hold funerals for each other whilst they are still alive, these events are held at a time when each person most needs to hear about the impact they’ve had on those around them.
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Don't let this cover fool you, while it looks like a light and fun time, it packs a bit more of a punch. The Celebrants is a novel about a group of college friends who celebrate one another's "funerals" while the person is alive in order to remember their life is still worth living. This funeral pact is catalyzed by the sudden death of their friend just weeks before they are all set to graduate Berkley. This novel explores adulthood and the ebbs and flows of friendship throughout ones life. It took me a bit of time to get into this one, but after the 25-30% in I didn't want to stop reading. The Celebrants ended up being a solid 4 star read for me.

I found the structure of this novel to be interesting and something I enjoyed a lot more than I expected. This aspect of the novel was what brought it from a 3 to 4 star for me. It is a combination of present day chapters through Jordan's point of view and flashback's to each member's funeral through their respective points of view. This concept makes so much sense, but I rarely come across it and I found it to be very well done. In terms of the writing, I don't find it spectacular nor bad. It's pretty good and easy to digest, with straight forward prose - in a positive way. 

All of the character's are flawed and while not all readers will find them relatable or likeable, I found them to be both. Other reviewers commented they don't want to read about middle aged adults doing mushrooms, but I am here for it. They are all messy people and we get glimpses into it. To me, they feel like real people I could know. This was my first novel by the author, but I don't think it will be the last. 

Thank you to NetGalley and G.P. Putnam’s Sons for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Five years have slipped away since Jordan Vargas last laid eyes on his college comrades. In fact, it's been twenty-eight years since their cap-and-gown-clad graduation, signalling the official onset of their adult lives. 

Now, Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle stand on the precipice of a new decade, shouldering the full weight of adult responsibilities, yet no closer to unravelling the intricate tapestry of their lives. And it's not for lack of effort. Throughout the years, they've reconvened in the serene embrace of Big Sur to fulfil a time-honoured pact: hosting each other's "living funerals." These gatherings serve as vivid reminders that life is a gift worth cherishing and that their existence holds meaning, not just for themselves but for each other. 

As soon as you dip into one of Rowley's books, you find yourself immediately absorbed in the narrative, developing an instant connection with his characters. "The Celebrants" is an ode to the enduring power of lifelong friendships, the kind of bonds that allow friends to see through the facades and defences, even after years apart. The story masterfully combines elements of raw emotion, humour, sharp wit, and everything you would expect from a Steven Rowley novel. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for sending a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I loved this story! What a unique way to present a friend group while also dealing with a lot of life's major issues in adulthood.  I enjoyed that we got multiple perspectives and time periods, along with different locations.  I would love to have a friend group like this.  Steven Rowley is so good at including humor and real life in his stories- I cannot wait to read more.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this e-book arc!
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Ahhh! I love Steven Rowley. The Celebrants is another phenomenal book from this author. However, I did not find it as lovable as the GUNCLE which sits high on my list of forever favorite books of all time that I will save in the event of fire!  
With the comparison aside, I truly enjoyed the characters and their quirks. It was a slow start but as I approach the 5th chapter it developed the connection. 
Special thanks to Steven Rowley and Netgalley for the copy to review.
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I loved this book. Amazing characters and stories. Super lighthearted but meaningful. Do wish a few aspects of their relationships were expanded slightly.
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