When I think about my perfect vacation, the two key things I envision are minimal commitments and maximal books. For a long time, all I fantasized about was getting away from everything and having long periods of uninterrupted reading. We were midway through the pandemic before I realized I was getting exactly what I had been dreaming of. Eighteen months later and I am still not tired of it.
We went away from home for the first time since February 2020 last week. Right up until the night before we left, I was unsure whether it was the right thing to do. Our public safety messaging is so unclear and news of new variants and increasing positive tests is concerning. In the end, we decided to follow through with our plans and we practiced safe measures – social distancing, wearing masks – without exception. It was great to get to travel again, but if you’ve been living within the regulations as diligently as we have, it’s a whole different world out there. There were plenty of times we were the only people wearing masks or unwilling to get into elevators or enclosed spaces with strangers. I know people want to get back to the way things used to be, but A. we aren’t there yet and B. were things really that great to being with?!?
As always, I had dreams of hotel lobby reading, poolside reading, wilderness reading, and city parking reading. As always, our adventures kept us on the move more often than not and I did some reading, but I was never really able to do only reading. Luckily, this is the first time in my travel career that I only took two books with me so it didn’t really hurt too much. (But I also had five others on my iPad. ? Just in case.)
We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
I got lucky and this was one of two books that served as perfectly satisfying vacation reads. (The first was All’s Well by Mona Awad which I wrote about earlier this week.)
When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all—and her high school sweetheart—five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.
Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets—secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes—and ultimately find a way forward, together.
We Are the Brennans is the novel you want to read if you love a novel built around deeply personal – and sometimes challenging – family relationships. This present day story does a great job of weaving a lengthy history with current events. Between four siblings, their father, current and ex-spouses, and others there are endless dynamics at play throughout the book and Tracey Lange does a great job of weaving them together. The surprise ending closes it all out perfectly.
There’s a part when a character outside the family screams something at/about them along the lines of “lying is all the Brennans ever do” and it’s remarkable how accurate that is, but without making you detest them which is an interesting accomplishment. Because they do lie. Almost all of them and a lot. They lie out of self-preservation and the protection of others and, under the circumstances, it all kind of makes sense that they did what they did, but calling them liars isn’t a statement that anyone can debate.
A couple of my favourite things about this book:
- The name Sunday really grew on me. Aside from Wednesday Addams, I’ve never heard of someone with the name of a day of the week and I kind of like it.
- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: my favourite love stories are the impossible kind and there are a few of those threads running throughout this book. ?
Thank you to Celadon Books and Netgalley for the chance to read this book before it was published. It came out on August 3rd and is now available everywhere.