We Are the Brennans
Take an Irish family in New York, add a family business in crisis, a pair of star-crossed lovers, and secrets enough to layer the plot with guilt, frustration, and suspense, and you have WE ARE THE BRENNANS.
The story opens with the drunk-driving auto accident of Sunday Brennan, the only female of four siblings. She is living in Los Angeles, estranged from the family until her designated next-of-kin, her oldest brother, receives a call that she is hurt, flies out from New York, and persuades her to come home. Once there, she is sucked right back into the messes of her three brothers, her father, her ex-fiancé, and the bar.
Similarly, the reader is caught up in the big questions – like, what is going on with the bar’s finances, whether the oldest brother can get his wife and daughter back, and why Sunday left town so abruptly five years before.
In addition to Sunday’s voice, there are chapters in the voices of her brothers, father, and ex, bringing us little by little up to speed on the current state of their lives. Nothing is perfect here. This family, these people, are imperfect as sin, all too human, just as we are. This is, perhaps the greatest strength of the book.
Its greatest weakness? I’m still trying to put my finger on that, still trying to figure out why I didn’t love this book. It may have been Sunday’s passivity; I want a strong heroine, and she was not. It may have been the narration of the audiobook, which leaned toward extremes. It may have been the ending, which left me up in the air – and yes, I know, the point was that the Brennans are the Brennans and will work it out.
But after slogging through their other problems and now facing as important an issue as this last one, I wanted to see how they did it. Moreover, had some of those earlier slogs been shorter, there’d have been plenty of time for that.
Still, WE ARE THE BRENNANS is nicely written. The characters are, indeed, like family. It’s a diverting read.