When you’re in the middle of the dynamics of a dysfunctional family, and you’re dealing with the overwrought drama of family members, you probably think there’s nothing entertaining about it at all. However, when none of those people is related to you and you’re not responsible for any of the fallout, and when the misbehavings of horrible people are told by an author with a sense of the ridiculous and an eye for the inherent humor of people’s bad behavior, dysfunctional families can be quite entertaining. If you’re in the mood for some schadenfreude, try The People We Hate at the Wedding, by Grant Ginder.
Actually, putting a dysfunctional family into the high stress environment of a fancy wedding is a brilliant idea. Many people go a little nuts in the stages leading up to a wedding, especially if it’s a big or fancy one, and if you’re a little off to begin with, the extra stress will bring out all the flaws and bad behaviors you try to hide.
In this case, the family consists of a mother, Donna, her son and daughter, Paul and Alice, and their half sister, the perfect Eloise. Neither Donna nor Paul nor Alice is anywhere near perfect. Donna, the widowed mother of the clan, likes to drink, smoke the occasional joint, and watch trashy television with her best friend. Alice, in her thirties and still single, is working in a dead end job and having an affair with her boss. Her brother, Paul, is living with his professor boyfriend who’s talking down the whole concept of monogamy as a heterosexual institution while flirting with undergraduates.
Eloise, their perfect half sister, has spent her life insulated by a cushy trust fund, going to expensive boarding schools, holidaying in Europe, and through it all has remained kind and decent (in spite of her upbringing). Now she’s going to marry a rich Englishman, and the wedding will be in London, all high class and expensive, and her less than perfect family is invited. They sort of have to attend, whether they want to or not, but this is a recipe for disaster, and the author gives us different viewpoints as the whole horror show unfolds.
After reading The People We Hate at the Wedding, your own family’s messes will seem so much more manageable.