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Hard to find a hero among 'People We Hate at the Wedding'

Associated Press logo Associated Press 6/12/2017 By SAMANTHA CRITCHELL, Associated Press
This book cover image released by Flatiron Books shows "People We Hate at the Wedding," a novel by Grant Ginder. (Flatiron Books via AP) © The Associated Press This book cover image released by Flatiron Books shows "People We Hate at the Wedding," a novel by Grant Ginder. (Flatiron Books via AP)

"The People We Hate at the Wedding" (Flatiron Books), by Grant Ginder

"The People We Hate at the Wedding" could have been titled, "The People You Wish Eloped." There was an expectation in the first few chapters of Grant Ginder's tale about how a family long plagued by secrets, divided loyalties and petty bickering ultimately would come together when it really mattered, when an olive branch is extended in the name of harmony at an upcoming wedding.

Maybe that resolution would be a little too much of an artificial sweeter for some tastes — but usually, as those rom-com stories that turn into successful chick flicks evolve, you develop a liking for the characters along the way, and that's where any sort of magic happens.

This story is one chapter of family dysfunction after another, and that makes for a cast of characters that really isn't very likable. For me, there wasn't one person to call the protagonist; there wasn't someone to root for. The closest one is probably the bride, Eloise, and she's not anyone I'd want on my guest list.

Still, Ginder creates a detailed, immersive environment that brings some entertainment.

The story opens with half-sister Alice's off-course life in Los Angeles, detailing how the affair with her married boss started via instant messaging and how it ended because of ill-timed Facebook posts. She's the most interesting character, but the book bounces around to different points of view, and she probably takes more ink to appreciate.

Alice is the one who persuades her full brother Paul — and, in a point made repeatedly, Eloise's half brother — who has lost his job and is on the verge of losing his boyfriend — to join her at the wedding in London. Paul is estranged from his mother, but, of course, as Eloise's mother, too, she's making the trip across the pond. But wait, there's more: Eloise's father, not related to Alice and Paul, but always "the one who got away" to mom, arrives on the scene as a new man, only to leave before the nuptials as the same-old cad.

There's no shortage of people to at least dislike at this wedding.

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