Monday, 10 November 2014

Hello From The Gillespies

Author: Monica McInerney
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: ARC e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Penguin Group Berkley, NAL/Signet Romance, DAW
First Published: November 4, 2014
First Lines: "It was December the first."

Book Description from NetGalleyFor the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth....

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when Angela is taken away from them in a most unexpected manner, the Gillespies pull together— and pull themselves together —in wonderfully surprising ways….

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group Berkley, NAL/Signet Romance, DAW for providing me with a complimentary e-book copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

My Review:  I picked up this book based on the premise of family secrets being divulged and how the family deals with the aftermath. Who doesn't like to read about skeletons jumping out of other people's closets?  Unfortunately while the premise was intriguing, I finished this book with an overall lackluster feeling.

This was an easy read but I had a few issues with the book. First, it was really long and could have been whittled down a fair bit.  The characters felt like soap opera actors each very superficial with their own issues that are brought to light.  But like a soap opera it was engaging at certain points but these moments were surrounded by long descriptions of daily life that really slowed down the pace of the book.  

The most interesting point in the book (the incident that takes Angela away from her family) was over all too soon and the main story line (the after effects of family secrets being divulged) was much too brief.  Instead the book tended to focus more on the decline of a marriage and an obsession about a family reunion and the story soon lagged and ended with a very predictable and much too neatly tied up ending for each of the characters.

What I did appreciate was the fact that this book focused on an imperfect family. Their initial quirkiness and humour remind me of my own family.  But those quirky, flawed characters soon got on my nerves and I didn't feel connected to any of them, especially the three daughters.  Here we have adult children who arrive home unexpectedly (and for an indeterminate amount of time) and expect their mom (who has her own business and ranch to run) to wait on them hand and foot.  These adult daughters were whiny, very self-obsessed and seem more concerned with their next boyfriend than their family.  Sure they were 'flawed' but they weren't very likable either.  In fact, the only character that seemed believable was 10 year old Ig.

Overall, while I obviously didn't love this book, I also didn't hate it.  It was just okay.  It held my interest enough for me to finish it but without a connection to the characters and the focus veering off of the main issue I can't say that I loved it.  

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

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