The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
The children of a once-brilliant playwright and a struggling actress, the four Haas siblings grew up in chaos- raised in an environment composed of neglect and glamour in equal measure. When their father dies, they must depend on their intense but fragile bond to remember what it means to be family despite years of anger and hurt. These brothers and sisters are painfully human, sometimes selfish, and almost always making the wrong decisions, but their endearing struggles provide laughter through tears- something anyone who’s ever had a sibling can relate to.
I don’t even know where to begin my review. I feel like this book was such a huge waste of my time. I have only given really bad reviews to a couple of books and that is because I had nothing positive to say about them. This one is going to fall in that category so if you were hoping to read it, be warned this review is not going to encourage you to do so.
The story is split into 5 sections from 5 points of view (4 of them are the children and the last one is the mother’s view). Amy’s story is the first section and throughout the whole thing I just couldn’t get into it. Amy had no personality, she was hardly a character I felt like I knew, and I didn’t think she had anything valuable to add to the story. She just sort of seemed to go through the motions as narrator. A couple of times throughout I felt like there were pieces missing and wondering if something was implied because it was mentioned once. I feel there were way too many gaps in the story line.
Then you move on to the second section (from George’s point of view). Here’s where this review is going to plummet. First of all, the point of view literally changed from first person (Amy) to third person (George). I wasn’t a fan but maybe some sort of literary writing technique is lost on me here. George is homosexual and his story gets into graphic detail of his affairs. I’ll leave it at that, but the language and the graphic nature of the content did nothing to interest me but rather make me skip his entire section. I knew I was a sensitive reader but didn’t realize just how sensitive until I read this section.
I thought I’d jump ahead to the third section: Kate’s point of view. Kate is a lawyer in DC hoping to make partner and quite frankly, the first few pages of her story did NOTHING to impress me or draw my attention. I just didn’t connect with any of the characters. At all. They are all so disconnected themselves that it was hard to like any of them. (The 4th sibling is a drunk and the mom is MIA until I assume the last section of the book) I just couldn’t make it there.
I’ve decided this book was probably one of my worst read (and that’s a very short list). My opinion is the farthest thing from an editor, professional, or publisher standpoint. I’m just a girl who loves to read and is challenging herself to read 52 books this year. I’ve read some great books, and this one was anything but.
So after deciding I was going to give up entirely on this book (but I’m totally counting it in the 52 for this year because to be honest I’m that bitter I spent any time on it at all), I needed to revisit other reviews. I discovered this book in People magazine and it had a great review. So after doing a Google search to find other reviews, I started thinking it was just me. Everyone seemed to think really highly of the story. Then I started finding other bad reviews and was relieved when someone else pretty much said the same thing I felt:
S. Miller (in Phoenix, AZ) said on her Amazon.com review of this book:
I don’t understand the rave reviews other readers have left as I found this book very tedious and depressing. I read to about the half way point and just gave up…. something I never do. I found nothing redeeming about the book but kept pushing through it. When the book got into some graphic detail of one of the brothers homosexual affairs, that was the final straw for me and I quit reading. The only reason I gave this book two stars was because I did not finish reading it and maybe the book gets better in the last half. I wish I would have never bought the book… my worst read in at least 10 years.
I’m afraid I have to say I agree 100%.
1 out of 5 stars….
Happy Reading to all of you,