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The Summer We Fell Apart: A Novel Paperback – January 5, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From 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.)
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Review

“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.” (Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire)

“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.” (Jessica Anya Blau, author of THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES)

“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.” (Will Allison, author of What You Have Left)

“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.” (Juliette Fay, author of Shelter Me)

“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.” (Martha Moody, bestselling author of Best Friends)

The Summer We Fell Apart is a bright, big-hearted novel about the complexities and heartaches of the way we live now.” (Elizabeth Benedict, author of Almost and Mentors, Muses & Monsters: 30 Writers on the People Who Changed Their Lives)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 1St Edition edition (January 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061782165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061782169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After making a career out of changing careers, from PR to tending bar, and from waitressing to managing a modern dance company, Robin Antalek eventually gave in to the voices in her head and began writing fiction. She studied at The New York State Writer's Institute at the State University of New York at Albany, and has published in many literary journals: Sun Dog: The Southeast Review, Literary Mama, among others, and has twice been a finalist in Glimmer Train's Family Matters contests as well as a finalist for The Tobias Wolf Award for Short Fiction. You can also find her nonfiction essays monthly on the web at The Nervous Breakdown.
The Summer We Fell Apart is her first novel. She lives in a very needy Victorian house in Saratoga Springs, New York, with her husband, two daughters, and three dogs.

Customer Reviews

Will be looking for her next book... anxiously!
NewYorker
Characters were completely not likeable and I did not care about them at all.
Amazon Customer
The writing is beautiful and the characters are so real and engaging.
Ellen Cuminale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Greg Olear on January 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Robin Antalek's soaring debut concerns the tribulations of the Haas family --- four grown children and their mother--- before, during, and after the death of the failed-playwright patriarch, who was as achingly absent in their childhoods as he is in the novel. The characters are so well drawn, their stories woven together so expertly, that it's hard to believe that this novel grew out of a collection of loosely-affiliated short stories. Also notable is her adroit and effective use of the simplest things ---lemon trees, leather jackets, scarves---as symbols.

In books of this kind---five characters, five stories, five points of view---there are usually one or two weak links in the chain. Not so here. You'll care about these characters---all of them---as deeply as if they were members of your own family (and perhaps more).

Oh, and don't let the prim and proper cover fool you---The Summer We Fell Apart has some racy passages, including the most uncomfortable ménage à trois scene in recent memory.
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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By D. Nicastro on January 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
Dysfunctional families are commonplace, as are the books about them. However, this book stands above them all. It is truly a gem, one that will linger in your mind long after you have finished it. Robin Antalek is a refreshing and unique author that is able to carry the reader effortlessly and beautifully through the intimate perspectives of four siblings and their mother. You will fall in love with each sibling and suprisingly find heartfelt compassion for their neglectful parent as well. This novel is filled with love and heartache that moves quickly. But, beware! Don't read too quickly. Robin Antalek is an artist with the written word, her prose is not something to be rushed through, but savored.

This book is REAL. My guess is that it will find a home on the NY Times Best Seller List. Enjoy!
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Marconi on January 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This novel is FANTASTIC...As an avid reader I highly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good read! This book will make you laugh and it'll make you cry...The way the author writes is so descriptive and captivating that you can't help but feel for, and relate to, this dysfunctional family. From the time I picked up "The Summer We Fell Apart" I had a very hard time putting it down...I can honestly say that I was sad when the story ended! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS NOVEL!!!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
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
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Megan O'Toole on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am going to have to agree with my fellow 2-starrers' on the review board for this book. I read the synopsis of Summer We Fell Apart on a book review list and thought it sounded very intriguing, so I took it out from the library (thank goodness I didn't actually waste my money on it!) I couldn't be more disappointed. The writing is not that great, there is no character depth at all, and the whole family is a terrible cliche.

It jumps from character to character, which is more than fine, however it just doesn't work for the author. She lost track of all the characters by doing this. Nothing is really explained, and even the title "The Summer We Fell Apart" doesn't make sense. When did they fall apart? When the father passed? When Amy left for college, when Finn came home for the summer in the first part of the book? When did they fall apart? It seemed that they were already "fallen apart" on the first few pages of the book so I just didn't get it.

There are also gaping holes in the story. I'll take Amy as an example. Amy is the first point of view in the book and it starts with some random child of one of their father's girlfriends who is Swedish that comes to live with them, which to be honest makes no sense and doesn't do anything to the plot line or the book for that matter. They skip to the next part about Amy where she is home from school and aparently she is pregnant, though has not told anyone and is obviously very early in the pregnancy. She vaguely mentions someone named Owen who she does not know very well and they sleep together once and a while (ok, nothing wrong with that) but then she says something along the lines of "I wouldn't even know where to find Owen, or how to contact him" or something like that.
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