Etta

Review (ARC): We Are Family

To Be Published September 3rd 2020, 500 pages

Author: Nicola Gill

Overview from Goodreads:

Laura has a laid back attitude to life. Her home isn’t spotless, and after a hard day she likes to take to bed with a block of cheese.

Jess, on the other hand, is your classic overachiever: The Big Sister, Chief of Chivvying, Queen of the family WhatsApp. Her life is picture-perfect.

Laura and Jess lost their dad when they were kids, and now their mum is gone too. And one of the hardest times in life is made harder by the fact they can’t agree on a single thing, from where to scatter the ashes to whether “passed away” is even an acceptable term.

But when Laura starts pushing her own boundaries and Jess agrees to let other people in to her (not so) perfect life, the two women realize they need each other more than ever. They might not be ready to admit it, but family is everything…

A funny, tender and thoroughly entertaining read for anyone who loves Marian Keyes, Ruth Jones, and Fleabag.

Personal Review

We Are Family is an story that shows the interactions of two polar opposite sisters. Both have a difficult time relating to the other as they were pitted against each other due to their complex relationship with their mother. Our story begins with the two of them making the arrangements for their mother’s funeral and dealing with the grief of her passing.

Jess and Laura may be related, but Laura is more laid back and Jess is the overachiever. As they each have different types of personalities, the writing gives you a glimpse into life on the other side as many people have a sibling that is their opposite and sometimes it can be hard to understand why they do things or think about things a certain way and can’t always see the other side. For me, I’m more similar to Jess while my sister is similar to the laid back style of Laura. We don’t get a full insight into Jess as a character though so it’s hard to tell if I related only to the surface traits or if I actually related to her as a full-fledged character.  The things you are told (which is not true for my own relationship with my sister) is that Jess was always seen as the perfect daughter and was the clear favorite to their mother, Evie, while Laura was a failure.  Jess may have gotten better grades, but that shouldn’t have made Laura any less for not doing the same to their mother. Sadly, this and many other differences made the mother hold Laura to a higher standard to please her. (To me, it’s not the end of the world for a parent to have a favorite child as it happens is many families, but I’m against any parent treating their children different because of it.)

Laura started off as a sympathetic character where you feel bad for her being thought of as the lesser of the two sisters. However, she put herself in some situations when she would find the negative in almost everything that was said to her. It’s almost as if she was looking for an insult when somethings should have been left at face value. Another of her faults is that she has a difficult time saying no even though she wants to in her mind. Some of the things that happen to her are within her control and some are way beyond her control, but it was nice see her grow as an individual to where she comes to terms with what she wants to make her happier. As the story is told through Laura’s perspective, it was part of Laura’s downfall as a character to the reader as spend more time with her – I could have had the same reaction to Jess if it were told through her perspective and we got a greater insight into her faults.

The novel does take a LONG time to get in to, at least to me, as I was over a third of the way before I really got into it. This might not be the case for all readers, but that was my experience. Once you get to the main parts of the story, then you get more enthralled with the sisters and try to further understand their relationship. The sisters have conflicts that they work through that are both big and small leading to a larger conflict that becomes a sort of climax to the story. This didn’t live up to my expectations as it didn’t seem as relatable to how I would’ve thought the sisters would have dealt with it at this point in the story – the novel didn’t go into very much depth to resolve it and it seems to happen a lot more quickly than what I would consider believable.

Although the ending felt a little rushed to me, it was a heart-warming story of family. To me, this novel was way too long yet also way too short. I feel that a lot of the events from the first half of the book could have been taken away and more could’ve been added to set up and help come to a better-rounded conclusion. There were too many pieces to this story that the author had to write conclusions to that it took away from the overall story. By taking some of these away, I believe the same message could have been conveyed, but in a more concise manner that would be reachable to more readers (especially those that could discount this book for its length alone – if you’re looking for an average 300ish page book – a 500-page one isn’t the first one you’d reach for). This was the first novel I’ve read by Nicola Gill and after reading her book (and other reviews highly recommending her other one), I now have her on my list of books to read. I recommend this novel for anyone who wants a feel-good book with a good mix of happy and emotional moments!

**Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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