If We're Being Honest by Cat Shook
Celadon Books, 2023
Motivation for reading: The publisher recommends this title for fans of We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange and All Adults Here by Emma Straub - both of which were 4-star reads for me. Plus, Annie Jones reviewed it favorably on her From the Front Porch podcast.
Source: goodreads giveaway
When Gerry, the beloved Williams patriarch, dies suddenly, his grandchildren flock from across the country to the family home in Eulalia, Georgia. But when Gerry’s best friend steps up to the microphone to deliver his eulogy, the funeral turns out unlike anyone expected. The cousins, left reeling and confused, cope with their fresh grief and various private dramas. Delia, recently heartbroken, refuses to shut up about her ex. Her sister Alice, usually confident, flusters when she spots her high school sweetheart, hiding a secret that will change both of their lives. Outspoken, affable Grant is preening in the afterglow of his recent appearance on The Bachelorette and looking to reignite an old flame with the least available person in town. Meanwhile, his younger brother Red, unsure of himself and easily embarrassed, desperately searches for a place in the boisterous family.
The cousins’ eccentric parents are in tow, too, and equally lost—in love and in life. Watching over them all is Ellen, Gerry’s sweet and proper widow, who does her best to keep her composure in front of the leering small town.
Clever and completely original, If We’re Being Honest reminds you that while no one can break your heart like your family can, there’s really no one better to put you back together.
This book opens with the most memorable funeral scene I have ever encountered! Beyond that, the novel is filled with family secrets, drama, and, perhaps most importantly, love.
The patriarch has died and the plot, which takes place over the course of a week, involves his widow, their three children, and four adult grandchildren. A family tree is included, which I found helpful in keeping track of the smaller family units as I got to know the characters... and my affection for this novel grew right alongside my understanding of those characters.
Although the siblings' stories were interesting, I think the four grandchildren (late 20s-early 30s) took center stage. They are all struggling with various issues and assorted secrets you might expect from this age group. But what really stood out was the genuine affection and caring the cousins exhibited toward one another... such a pleasure to read.
Perhaps the ending was wrapped up a little too perfectly, but this novel was still a delight. I truly enjoyed being present for a week in the life of the Williams clan!
Somewhere between 3.5 and 4, but going with 4 because I enjoyed the reading experience.