From Funeral to Wedding

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If We’re Being Honest begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding. A family drama, the large, 3-generation Williams family gathers in a small southern town to grieve and to support the deceased’s wife, Ellen. Her three children have collectively four children.

An extremely surprising revelation at the funeral seems to prompt the family to be more honest, as the title foreshadows. More honest with each other, with their friends and exes, and most importantly, with themselves. All this is told through the characters’ perspectives, so the reader is privy to their thoughts and memories.

There are many more people at the funeral, friends, ex-lovers, ex-husbands. Thus this story is overloaded with characters who, for me, were hard to keep straight even through the end. They run the gamut of typical, sometimes stereotypical, people: someone recently divorced, someone extremely self-centered, someone accidentally pregnant, someone whose orientation is secret, etc. As the novel progresses to the family friend’s wedding, Ellen’s life and new situation is overshadowed by the dive into the progenies’ individual worlds.

This is Cat Shook’s first novel; it is well-written and enhanced by occasional humor. Readers who appreciate family dramas will flock to this book, I believe. I would have preferred a focus on Ellen’s character, which seems to offer author Shook an opportunity for a more nuanced examination of how one lives one’s life filled with the many relatives’ dramas and annoyances with abiding love.

I received an advance copy of this novel from Celadon Books via Bookish First. This is an honest review.