Don’t let anyone tell you that this book is like Ask Again, Yes. It is so much better.
We Are the Brennans explores the staying power of shame―and the redemptive power of love―in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.
In the vein of Mary Beth Keane’s Ask Again, Yes and Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest, Tracey Lange’s We Are the Brennans explores the staying power of shame―and the redemptive power of love―in an Irish Catholic family torn apart by secrets.
When twenty-nine-year-old Sunday Brennan wakes up in a Los Angeles hospital, bruised and battered after a drunk driving accident she caused, she swallows her pride and goes home to her family in New York. But it’s not easy. She deserted them all―and her high school sweetheart―five years before with little explanation, and they’ve got questions.
Sunday is determined to rebuild her life back on the east coast, even if it does mean tiptoeing around resentful brothers and an ex-fiancé. The longer she stays, however, the more she realizes they need her just as much as she needs them. When a dangerous man from her past brings her family’s pub business to the brink of financial ruin, the only way to protect them is to upend all their secrets―secrets that have damaged the family for generations and will threaten everything they know about their lives. In the aftermath, the Brennan family is forced to confront painful mistakes―and ultimately find a way forward, together.
We Are the Brennans is a debut novel about love, shame, and secrets in a tight knit Irish Catholic family. This compelling family drama left me wanting more and wishing I could stay with the Brennans longer.
I am typically not one for family dramas, but We Are the Brennans felt like so much more. Told from alternating viewpoints, this story and its characters were rich and deep. So many family dramas lack any real tension or plot. That was definitely not the case with this book, which had a strong plot although the family drove the narrative.
I often get annoyed when characters make poor decision after poor decision. But the decisions characters made in this book did not bother me or stress me out. I think partially because it felt so genuine and I can see these things happening in a real family. Plus, they were not over the top. Instead, Lange writes these characters and events in a straightforward manner not casting judgement for you and presenting these as just what they are – real life decisions made by flawed people.
It is hard to believe that this is Lange’s debut novel. The story flowed seamlessly despite alternating narrators. The writing was engaging and tugged in my heart. Ultimately, I did not want this book to end and could read so much more about the Brennans. It is definitely a book to savor.
Overall, I loved We Are the Brennans𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘴 and highly recommend it. If you don’t want to wait until August to read it, I am happy to tell you it is a July Book of the Month pick!
We Are the Brennans
August 3, 2021
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Note: I received a gifted advance readers’ copy of this book from the publisher, Celadon Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.