We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange
Published by Celadon Books
Publication date: August 3, 2021
Genres: Debut, Fiction, Contemporary, Vacation Reading
Sunday Brennan lives in L.A. pursuing her dream of being a writer, right up until she gets in a drunk driving accident and her emergency contact is her older brother, Denny. Despite living on the opposite side of the country he arrives, forcing her to acknowledge her dream is not happening and it’s time to come home. This is We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange, a contemporary saga about one Irish Catholic family, best friends, the past, and moving forward.
Returning home isn’t easy. Sunday left behind not only her family, but her brother’s best friend, Kyle, who was also her boyfriend. It seems as if everyone has moved on—Denny and Kyle opened a pub together, both got married, and have children. Sunday is the only one stuck in the past. The pub is thriving, so much so that they’re expanding into a more upscale neighborhood. Sunday pitches in by trying to make sense of the pub’s books, but the finances were Denny’s purview, and none of it makes sense.
Slowly, but surely, the past intrudes on the present and negative events begin to accumulate. Also, Sunday and Kyle may not have moved on as much as they thought. All of this makes We Are the Brennans steady, family drama fiction. A straightforward story of mistakes and secrets that kept me reading. If the novel fell a little flat for me there’s a reason.
Reading is a joy and an escape, but there is a downside to reading so much. Books from the past overlap with the present, which is what happened with We Are the Brennans. Does this title sound familiar to anyone? Kind of like 1997s We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates? If that’s not enough, both books are about large Irish Catholic families dealing with a tragic secret that pulls them apart. The publisher didn’t do this novel any favors by going with a title so close to a similar book. I realize no one author has a hold on tragic Irish Catholic family stories, but I couldn’t help but compare the two and Brennans fell short. Mulvaneys was a darker, more literary novel, so coming into We Are the Brennans I couldn’t help but feel it was familiar, just less. If you didn’t read the Oates’ book then this is solid vacation reading.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Celadon Books in exchange for an honest review.*