Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for an early review copy of We Are Gathered by Jamie Weisman, which will publish June 5, 2018. All thoughts are my own.
Writing: 4/5 Plot: 3/5 Characters: 4/5
Although sold as a novel, this is really a set of interconnected stories, each an interior monologue of one of the guests at the lavish wedding of Elizabeth Gottlieb in Atlanta, Georgia.
The storytellers (or thinkers) range from mother of the bride, to bridesmaids, to family and friends. I wouldn’t call it a happy book — most of the narrators face or have faced some heavy challenges: a large port wine facial birthmark, clinical depression, a child with muscular dystrophy, a stroke, the aftermath of being a holocaust survivor. Still, as the characters bounce their thoughts off the wedding of a young woman who has led a completely charmed life, they reflect, they elaborate carefully constructed life philosophies, they rail against injustice, and they opine about love in all its myriad forms. While I missed the coherence and longer narrative arc of a novel, I enjoyed the insight that the narrators produced in their conscious thought stream. The author is a dermatologist from Atlanta and many of these stories revolve around doctors, medical conditions, and the way people cope with illness or disability.
I found the text long winded at times, but the writing was good and I highlighted many sections that made me think; overall an interesting read.