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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Sunday's Child

Normally my Sunday posts are “Sunday Scaries” and I focus on mysteries. I’m not sure that We are the Brennans by Tracey Lange would be categorized as a mystery, but then, aren’t all families a bit of mystery from the outside looking in? And also, Sunday Brennan is one of the main characters, so it seems like this review just had to go up on a Sunday!

We Are the Brennans by Tracey Lange

2023 Frenzied Bibliophile Challenge Category: Book of the Month

Ratings: 5/5

Will you like this book? You might if you like

  • Complicated family relationships

  • Families with lots of secrets

  • Second chances

  • Multiple POVs

  • Bars

The novel opens with a drunk Sunday Brennan in L.A., driving home after attempting to drown her sorrows with some coworkers. She ends up crashing her car and her eldest brother, Denny, flies out from New York to check on her. The siblings are slightly estranged, Sunday has been largely absent from her family for the last five years. She up and left, ending her engagement with Denny’s best friend, Kale, and business partner, cutting off most ties with people she once was closest to. Now,after the accident, Denny brings her back to New York, where she will need to confront all that has happened since she left and the consequences of her leaving. There are family secrets, new ones but also ones that have been long buried, like an object tucked under the floorboards in a closet. The past is never as far behind us as we think.

We are the Brennans has been my favorite read this month. Part of it is that I identify with the family; there isn’t much difference between an Irish Catholic family in suburban New York than suburban Boston. But I also liked how Lange employed the different points of view in each chapter,it allowed us to get each person’s perspective. I especially like that she included Kale’s wife Vivienne. Since the Brennans are the majority of our narrators, and people aren’t great at seeing their own flaws, having a perspective of someone who portrays them as a slightly haughty, insular family.

The haughtiness comes from Maura Brennan, she is dead but her ghost haunts everything in this story and as we come to learn, it is really her that sets in motion all of the events in the book. Irish mothers always make for a good story. They have the ability to tap into two of the emotions that can lead to so many secrets. As Mickey Brennan says “Shame and guilt are like plagues. And we Irish wield them like weapons and wear them like metals.” One of the most perceptive lines in the book and one that might well sum up the experience of growing up in an Irish Catholic family.

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