Winding narrative

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skhathaway Avatar


It started with Fred and ended with Fred, and I was disappointed at the lack of Fred in the middle.

If We’re Being Honest is a winding narrative of three generations of the Williams family, who are reunited one sweltering week in Eulalia, Georgia for their beloved patriarch’s funeral and a family friend’s wedding. The multi-perspective third person story was well written, but it bit off more than it could chew with too many characters and their personal storylines, none of which were ever fully digested. I couldn’t determine if there were too many main characters or simply no main characters - causing me to feel annoyed when one character’s storyline would abruptly switch to another’s. The author’s skillful storytelling would perhaps shine more brightly with the spotlight on one generation.

The hero of the book - if there even is one - and the most underdeveloped character of his Millennial generation group is Grant, a “dumb jock” personal trainer, who is kind and honest in a family that struggles with both. Then there is his brother, sweet Red, who has more in common with his grandfather, Gerry, than he ever thought, and had me rooting for him from the start. Alice and Delia, progressive-minded sisters who escaped Southern traditions by moving to NYC, may have actually been the main characters, but somehow felt flat.

The story I really wanted to hear, which was introduced so well in the first chapter, was about Fred and Gerry. I kept expecting it to pop up as the story meandered about with everyone ignoring Fred. Halfway through the book I was exasperated enough to consider giving up. However, I was committed to reading to the end to see how Fred would ultimately be redeemed. It’s possible that Fred was ignored in the plot as a way to highlight how all the characters were struggling with their own issues and couldn’t focus on anyone else’s. Yet - Grant excluded - it made them seem self centered to the point of being unlikable. Maybe, in reality, that’s how we all truly are.

Without spilling the beans, the ending was charming.