Book Review: The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder
When I saw that Allison Janney and Kristin Bell are amongst the cast of the movie adaptation of The People We Hate at the Wedding by Grant Ginder, I pulled my copy off my shelf and pledged to read the book before I watch the movie starring two of my favorite actresses.
I will keep this book review short because I have to admit that it wasn’t a win for me. Ginder is a good writer, I fully recognize, but the book was slow and didn’t come to a full resolution.
About The People We Hate at the Wedding
When Alice and Paul receive invitations to their half-sister’s English countryside wedding, their first action is to price out the wedding invites, setting the understanding that both are resentful of Eloise’s money. After all, the three’s mother, Donna, has spent Alice and Paul’s lifetimes wishing that she’d never left France after Eloise’s father had an affair. Alice and Paul grew up seeing Eloise as the perfect, privileged half-sister who has coasted through life. Thus, neither are overly keen to participate in the marital celebrations.
Through a series of events that, in my opinion, take up way too many pages of prose in this book that’s just over 300 pages long, Alice and Paul do go to the wedding in England, but their resentment of Eloise and their mother, as well as their own life events, make the trip much more complicated.
My Thoughts While Reading the People We Hate at the Wedding
I love a flawed character. I’m here for their mistakes, opinions, and (hopefully) growth. But Donna, Alice, and Paul do not make good decisions. Let me clarify that: their decisions don’t make sense.
Donna is still mourning the life she could have had with Henrique, her first husband and Eloise’s father, but she plays a melancholy victim. She’s not a fully developed character and seems to star in misaligned vignettes rather than act as the matriarch.
Alice is having an affair with her married boss and struggling to deal with a past, horrific trauma. She was the most likable character for me, but she kind of disappeared at the end of the novel.
Paul resents Donna for how she reacted after his father, Bill, died. He doesn’t know that Bill was a bigot who refused to accept Paul’s homosexuality and only remained quiet because Donna threatened to leave Bill after Paul came out. That’s a terrible experience, but Paul plays victim to his arrogant partner, Mark, and has a tendency to explode in frustration and anger. He’s both dramatic and passive, making me want to yell, “Express your feelings in a productive way.”
Eloise appears to mean well, but she’s not an altruistic person. She uses her money and influence to help her siblings, but doesn’t do it solely out of the goodness of her heart. She wants their approval and acceptance, which is reasonable. However, her final story arc was inconsistent and felt forced.
The People We Hate at the Wedding wasn’t for me, but I recognize that others may love this book. I still plan to watch the movie, and I’m glad I read the book first. This is a rare case of I hope the movie is better than the book.