I devoured this book. I'm not kidding, I think I finished it in about 5-6 hours? All in one sitting. It's been a while since I've been able to find the time (and the book) to do that. I'm not sure what it was about We Are the Brennans that drew me in almost instantly but I remember reading a sneak peek and being absolutely hooked.
Sunday Brennan left home (New York), her family, and her fiancé with little to no explanation, only coming back to visit once, and only briefly. Everyone thinks she's doing great, living her best life out in sunny LA and leaving everything (and everyone) behind. Yet when brother gets a call in the middle of the night telling her Sunday is in the ER after drinking and driving, he flies over and sees a small apartment and a seemingly empty life. So he asks her to come home, if only for a bit. And she agrees.
The plot, while not necessarily slow, isn't really the focus of the story. More than anything, this is the story of family. A very flawed family, but family nonetheless. Reading about the bonds, the different relationships, what each member is like on their own and then with each other, and then being able to get insight into each character's perspective was just so wonderful. This book does not feel like a debut at all. Tracey Lange skillfully intertwines different perspectives and stories to tell one big story and she does it effortlessly. Each chapter ends right where the other begins, kind of like a baton passed on in a relay race! Because it truly is a continuation of the last chapter, you're never annoyed or wondering what's happening in the other perspective, if that makes sense. This really worked for me.
My biggest gripe with We Are the Brennans is the end/how everything is wrapped up. It just ended too neatly with little to no repercussions. It really took away from what would have been a perfect story to me. When Lange didn't shy away from writing incredibly flawed (even problematic) characters, I thought the ending would be more than ... what we got. I don't think anything caught me by surprise, including the "twist" towards the end, but because the story is about so much more than the plot, I didn't care as much.
The relationship between the characters was my favorite part. Every character has made some really bad decisions at some point but I could, for the most part, understand why, so I couldn't dislike any of them. I think that's the story's biggest strength. Even when I'm rolling my eyes at some highly questionable decisions, I can still understand them. Back to the relationships. The siblings feel like siblings and the family bond was my favorite to read about. Flashbacks are woven into the story to explain not just the situation they're all in, but more than that, further the story we're in. We learn more and more about each member of the Brennan family and I loved them all so much, especially Jackie. Jackie is honestly my favorite and I love him to bits, thank you and goodbye.
Basically, more important than the story/plot were the emotions, and Tracey Lange does an incredible job conveying so much without ever explicitly saying it. The relationships, the pain, the guilt, the awkwardness, the discomfort, the fear, the anxiety, the anger, the love, I felt all of it. Lange conveys them all by showing rather than telling and it's just beautiful to read and experience. I have so many passages highlighted in my ebook where the siblings are just being siblings and warming my heart. There are bits where they're in pain or anxious and you can practically see it. Even if I didn't love the way the story ended, I definitely enjoyed the ride.