A Complicated Family Saga

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I listened to the audiobook of We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange. It was narrated by Barrie Kreinik who I have had the pleasure of listening to several times before. Her narration was brilliant once again. Tracey Lange’s talent shone bright in her debut book. Having shared the fact that she had grown up in a large Irish family herself with plenty of their own secrets, her debut novel borrowed from her experiences and produced a book that was both captivating and believable. It was most definitely character driven but had a complex plot that held my attention from the very beginning until the very end.

Sunday Brennan grew up in a town in Westchester County in New York. Her family were Irish Catholics and proud of their heritage. Sunday lived in a big home with her mother and father, older brothers Denny and Jackie and her youngest brother, Shaun, who was intellectually challenged. Her father’s construction company allowed her family to lead a very comfortable life. Sunday was the only daughter and as she got older her mother made sure that Sunday knew right from wrong and never made others question her choices. Appearances and good reputations were very important to her mother. When Sunday was in high school, she began dating her brother Denny’s best friend, Kale. Kale had practically grown up in the Brennan house. As Sunday and Kale matured, there was no denying that they were meant to be with each other. They slowly accepted their fate and fell deeply in love with each other but were determined to keep it a secret for the time being. Around this time, the Brennans family and Kale were planning a trip to Ireland. Sunday was excited about it and Kale was too but Sunday’s mother prevented Sunday from going. Her mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer and claimed she needed Sunday to stay home and help her get to her appointments and take care of her. After the family and Kale had left, Sunday started to feel lonely and resentful. One night she went to a pub with her cousin and made some very bad decisions. That night and the decisions she made changed Sunday’s life in ways she could never had expected. That harrowing night led Sunday to leave the people she loved with no plausible explanation and resettle in California.

Five years later, Sunday, now twenty-nine years old, found herself in a hospital room with bruises, a broken arm and injuries from a car accident. Driving while intoxicated, Sunday had crashed into a barricade and with little memory of what had happened woke up in a hospital room as she stared into her oldest brother Denny’s eyes. Somehow, with much coaxing, Denny was able to persuade Sunday to return home with him to New York. Sunday had not been home since her mother’s funeral. To Sunday’s relief, everyone welcomed her home with open and loving arms. Lots had changed though since Sunday had left all those years before. Denny and Kale had remained best friends and but were now business partners getting ready to open a second pub in Mamaroneck. Denny was harboring lots of secrets himself about the financial status of the new pub. A burst pipe had compromised the structure of the new pub and instead of communicating with Kale, his wife or anyone else, Denny assumed responsibility for fixing it single handedly. With no else’s knowledge, Denny secretively found a solution for getting the extra cash they needed to fix the pub’s structure and get it ready for the big opening It proved to be a very unconventional and dangerous way that would end up putting Denny’s and Kale’s friendship in jeopardy as well as Denny’s marriage. Kale was now married and had a young son. That was probably the hardest thing for Sunday to swallow and see. Then a man from Sunday’s past reappeared and threatened her family’s business with financial ruin. Could Sunday just sit by and let that happen or could she muster up all her courage and strength and confess to the secrets that she had harbored for all the years since she had disappeared years ago? Could she save her family from ruination and mend old wounds at the same time?

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange was about an Irish Catholic family that was torn apart by secrets. It was told from the POV of the many diverse characters. The plot captured me and the characters kept me engaged. It was about family, secrets, trust, shame, appearances, second chances and healing. I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook and recommend it very highly. I rated this book with 4.5 very strong stars that I rounded up to 5. If you enjoy family dramas with a bit of romance thrown in, then I think you will enjoy reading or listening to We Are the Brennans. I can’t wait to see what Tracey Lange writes next.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio through Netgalley for allowing me to listen to this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.