The Summer We Fell Apart: A Novel

The Summer We Fell Apart: A Novel

3.8 38
by Robin Antalek
     
 

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“[A] well-crafted and cunning debut novel…a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”
Publishers Weekly

The Summer We Fell Apart by newcomer Robin Antalek is a poignant, funny, and totally engrossing novel of family disasters and sibling rivalry—and it marks the debut of a pitch-perfect new

Overview

“[A] well-crafted and cunning debut novel…a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”
Publishers Weekly

The Summer We Fell Apart by newcomer Robin Antalek is a poignant, funny, and totally engrossing novel of family disasters and sibling rivalry—and it marks the debut of a pitch-perfect new voice in contemporary American fiction. Antalek’s tale of the trials and many tribulations of the hapless and more than a little dysfunctional Haas family recalls the work of Sue Miller and Ann Beattie—and is a wonderful introduction to a superb writer whose short fiction has been nominated for numerous awards, including the Glimmer Train’s Family Matter’s and Short-Story Award and the Bellingham Review’s Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A preoccupied playwright father and a cult-actress mother are the stars of the Haas family in Antalek's well-crafted and cunning debut novel. Set in New York and Los Angeles, and spanning 15 years, the novel is told from the perspective of four siblings close in age and their mother, Marilyn, and plays on the wide-ranging themes of love, loss, abandonment and expectation. Opening with Amy, the youngest and most free-spirited, we learn of the family's constant state of tension and tenuousness. George, the second youngest, is sweet and sentimental; eldest sister Kate, a lawyer, is the tough one; and Finn, the second oldest, is an alcoholic. Each sibling's story is full of painful memories involving their parents' neglect and disloyalty, but their coming together is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and to the importance of family ties regardless of family history, making this an endearing and easy-to-relate-to dysfunctional family drama. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The arrival of Miriam, a Swiss high school student, in the Haas household is actually a minor incident in the scope of this story. The true focus is on each of the Haas siblings—Kate, Finn, George, and Amy—and to some extent their always distracted parents, Marilyn, the B-movie actress, and Richard, the one-hit-wonder playwright. An odd bunch of individuals, this family together forms a mostly dysfunctional and tentative unit. What would-be fifth sibling Miriam brings to their existence is intermittent—she's sometimes the accepted outsider, and, for handsome and tragic Finn, she is someone who loves him and tries to save him from self-destruction. The narrative shifts from sibling to sibling, allowing each character to present his or her perspective and life situation. In the final pages, Marilyn is given the same opportunity. Readers learn how the children have coped with minimal parental intervention and later see them as adults struggling to make their own way. VERDICT Debut author Antalek provides a captivating look at a modern family over the course of 15 years. Her memorable characters are ultimately likable despite their flaws. Strongly recommended.—M. Neville, Trenton P.L., NJ
Jessica Anya Blau
"THE SUMMER WE FELL APART is a thoroughly entertaining and often heart- breaking romp through the chaos and comforts of a large and extraordinary family."
Elizabeth Benedict
"The Summer We Fell Apart is a bright, big-hearted novel about the complexities and heartaches of the way we live now."
Diana Spechler
"Robin Antalek’s debut is as haunting as it is gripping—a story of the events, both mundane and dramatic, that tear a family apart; and of the often inexplicable love that binds a family together. THE SUMMER WE FELL APART is a beautiful, memorable novel."
Will Allison
"Full of the best kind of heartache, The Summer We Fell Apart is an unforgettable, big-hearted debut that will make you want to pick up the phone and call your own brother or sister."
Juliette Fay
"THE SUMMER WE FELL APART tells the story of the four Haas kids.... With every chapter the story grows richer and clearer, as does your appreciation for their humor, their burdens and their devotion to each other."
Martha Moody
"The most moving aspect of this very moving novel may be its author’s relationship to her characters. By portraying each sibling’s muddled life with tenderness, respect, and clear-sightedness, author Antalek proves herself to be the ultimate good parent."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061960666
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
2,931
File size:
515 KB

What People are saying about this

Juliette Fay
“THE SUMMER WE FELL APART tells the story of the four Haas kids.... With every chapter the story grows richer and clearer, as does your appreciation for their humor, their burdens and their devotion to each other.”
Martha Moody
“The most moving aspect of this very moving novel may be its author’s relationship to her characters. By portraying each sibling’s muddled life with tenderness, respect, and clear-sightedness, author Antalek proves herself to be the ultimate good parent.”
Jessica Anya Blau
“THE SUMMER WE FELL APART is a thoroughly entertaining and often heart- breaking romp through the chaos and comforts of a large and extraordinary family.”
Elizabeth Benedict
The Summer We Fell Apart is a bright, big-hearted novel about the complexities and heartaches of the way we live now.”
Will Allison
“Full of the best kind of heartache, The Summer We Fell Apart is an unforgettable, big-hearted debut that will make you want to pick up the phone and call your own brother or sister.”
Diana Spechler
“Robin Antalek’s debut is as haunting as it is gripping—a story of the events, both mundane and dramatic, that tear a family apart; and of the often inexplicable love that binds a family together. THE SUMMER WE FELL APART is a beautiful, memorable novel.”

Meet the Author

Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

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Summer We Fell Apart 3.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 38 reviews.
msmommyreader More than 1 year ago
Antalek did an outstanding job with her first novel. I loved her characters and their struggles thorughout their lives. I especially enjoyed reading from the four siblings' perspectives. In this novel, Antalek takes us through the lives of four siblings who were basically left to raise themselves while their parents pursued their own interests. Despite the hardships that are faced throughout their lives, these children were able to overcome them and find meaning in life. Their journey is one that grabs the reader's interest and keeps it until the end. The book ends with an epilogue written in the voice of their mother, which nicely wraps up the story. Anyone who found Wall's The Glass Castle or Welch's The Kids Are All Right interesting would also enjoy this book. I think this would be a great book for book clubs. I think a comparison of this book to the two prior mentioned books would make for excellent book club discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I blazed through this book in one rainy afternoon. The writer has divided the book into 4 easy to read parts from each of the characters perspectives, and one part easily leads into the other as you follow each of the characters through struggling to find out who they are and how they feel about each other. The book captures a lot of the feelings and difficulties that sibligns feel as they grow up and grow apart and then try to come back together during trying and difficult times.
sandiek More than 1 year ago
In The Summer We Fell Apart, Robin Antalek follows the grown children of a dysfunctional marriage. The Haas marriage was renowned in theatrical circles. The father was a Tony-award winning playwright, but his career stumbled badly after this honor. The mother is more successful, still getting acting roles in her fifties and sixties. The question is why these two ever married and had children. The children seem to be nothing more than an afterthought, and the marriage revolved around the headgames and the serial adultry of each parent. Now that the children are grown, they have entered adult lives of their choices. Kate, the oldest and the father's favorite, is a hard-charging corporate lawyer, full of to-do lists and lots of projects but little time for emotions. Finn, the mother's favorite, has had alcohol issues and stumbles from rehab to rehab. George is a swim coach at a private boy's school and provides the most emotional support for his siblings. Amy is the youngest and is an artist, living in New York with her boyfriend. The book follows the children in their lives, especially in the time immediately following the death of their father. Antalek explores how we grow up, what sibling relationships mean and what we owe to our nuclear families once we grow up and make separate adult lives. The writing is immediate and real, and although the topic could be depressing, it doesn't weigh down the book. This book is recommended for readers who enjoy books about how we relate to each other and the world.
HVM More than 1 year ago
Once I got into this book I couldn't put it down. I wanted to find out about their lives past and present, to feel what they felt. Robin Antalek captured all that. I felt like I knew each member of the Haas family and couldn't wait to see what happened next. It gave me an insight to the struggles that I myself and my own family members have dealt with. It was written with such detail that I could smell and feel the surroundings. I felt like I was there watching the story unfold. It left me wanting more, I didn't want it to end! I hope there will be more about the Haas family soon! Well written and very enjoyable!
sparklenurse More than 1 year ago
This book was so easy to get through, so real, and so enjoyable...Great first book for this author. I can not wait for this author to create another book...Loved it !!!
RaeStar More than 1 year ago
Robin Antalek is a student of human nature. She portrays the characters in this story of disfunction and sibling relationships in a realistic loving way. The siblings' peersonalities unfold in an interesting way and invite the reader to love or hate the characters as they are put before us, flaws and all. There are moments that invite us to laugh, cry, and sympathize with the characters. We see ourselves in the passages. This is a good book that leaves the reader askin for more at its conclusion!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A vivid portrait of a dysfunctional family just trying to makeit to the next day .... beautifully written....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much that I am writing my first review. I absolutely fell in love with the characters. I loved the passionate love story centered around George. I empathisized with the loneliness and despair felt by , well, most of the characters, but especially Kate and Finn. It was just a great book with fantastic characters displaying how family can hurt and save you at the same time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book, from page one. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it - I'll be first in line for her next book. Beautifully written, interesting characters, believable, touching. Thanks, Robin!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Their dad was a famous playwright who died when his career declined. Their mom was a wannabe actress who became a cult favorite for her B roles. Their four offspring growing up never felt they had parents as the so called adults in the Haas family of six neglected their children. The youngest Amy hated the constant tension as all she wanted was a normal life like those on TV. George wanted to love and be loved so in any dispute especially after his father died, he always supported their mom. The oldest Kate found escapism and solace in her studies as she became a lawyer mostly as a reaction opposite to her artistic parents. Finally the oldest son Finn turned to alcoholism and addiction to provide him a haze of avoidance. This is a fascinating look at a dysfunctional family from the perspective of the four children as the adult may neglect their offspring but the child becomes the adult. The story line is character driven as the demons that haunt each of the foursome and how each copes with them is deeply explored by Robin Antalek. Mindful of Family Pictures by Sue Miller and This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, readers will enjoy this profound look at family relationships as seen by the children looking back as adults. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous 4 months ago
I enjoyed this book. It kept me interested and I liked reading the characters different points of views.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I actually started reading this book and then got a notification that a electronic book I had on hold at my library was available, so I had stopped a few chapters in and then picked it back up again after about 2 weeks. It was interesting enough that I was able to pick right up where I left off and not have to re-read what I had already started. It was nice to see the different angles from all the main characters and to see the progession they each took. I would be interested to check out other books by this author.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This beautifully written saga of a dysfunctional family and the love they have for each other is wonderful! Buy this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I savored every page, every character, every bit of this dysfunctional family. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of her next book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book about an incredibly dysfunctional family that isn't totally depressing. A good, easy read.
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