It's over. It's finished. We never have to read about Caroline or Chip (hmmm both C names, I call Conspiracy) or Lithuanian scams or cheating partners or the miserable Lamberts ever again!
I've had a lot of fun paying this book out, but I didn't hate it. I didn't love it, and I'm not sure if I even liked it, but I definitely didn't hate it. And this section (save for that bullshit final couple of everything-is-perfect pages) was definitely decent.
So here we go. Can we talk about how much I hate Caroline? Like I really, really detest her. More than Chip. Which, I know guys, I know that's a big thing to say. But everyone knows how much of flake Chip is and no one (save Denise giving him $20,000) really trusts him with anything. Caroline on the other hand is the mother of 3 kids, her husband is so browbeaten (although not completely innocent in all of this) that he seems to just accept her bullshit as fact and she is just HORRIBLE. The fact that she was going to stay home with two of the kids and avoid Gary's family was bad enough, but when she buys tickets to The Lion King to tempt Jonah into staying? THE KID IS 8 YEARS OLD. STOP USING HIM AS A PAWN IN YOUR POWER TRIPS.
Caroline made me so angry that I was just seething through the first part of this section. But then her lovely husband took that role because duuuuude, stop being such a dick. I mean, I can get where Gary's coming from. It must be frustrating to see your parents so ambivalent about their future and finances when you know the burden will fall on you in the future to keep them afloat. I can completely understand those feelings. Ok, brief detour. A few years ago my mum went home to Adelaide to care for my uncle and grandparents. My uncle had MS and my grandparents were his carers, but over the course of the week my nana had to have a stent placed in her heart and my papa needed a hip replacement. My mum went down to help them all out, because she's their kid and she loves them, but also because she's an occupational therapist so she knows how do this better than her other two brothers. Anyway, the reason I'm telling you this is because my mum would call me, frustrated, because my papa was putting on his shoes and bending down to lace them up, and after a hip replacement you aren't supposed to put that sort of pressure on it. But both my grandparents are super stubborn (sort of like Al, without the distance and assholery) and my mum was at her wits end, because she loved them and she didn't want them to cause themselves further pain down the road. So I can understand Gary's desperation at making his family sit down and discuss their future, because they're your parents and you want the best for them. BUT I don't think Gary actually gives a shit about them, I think the only thing he can think about is how much they're going to disservice him in the future. He takes a reasonable concern and blows it out of perspective. Like demanding his mum pay him the $5 for the screws. I mean FFS dude, it's $5. Family means occasionally letting $5 slide. And his blow up on Christmas breakfast was fucked up. I know everyone in this book is horrible, BUT DO NOT TREAT YOUR FAMILY LIKE THIS.
Another frustration was the reaction everyone had to whether or not Chip would make it to Christmas. I completely understand that he's a terrible person, and he never comes through on his promises, but you've just heard about massive civil unrest in Lithuania. Maybe show some concern for you brother. Oh the airports closed, see he won't be here after all! Never mind that that could mean that he's trapped or in an internment camp, or has been robbed and murdered for his stuff. Now I feel pretty weird standing up for Chip here, but it's not like he dashed to France. There is serious shit going down (sort of, Chip's section does sort of suggest that it's more talk than action) and your brother is in the thick of it. Pull your heads out of your asses!
The other thing I really wanted to talk about was the Al stuff. I really liked that we got to see this back story to Al, like him quitting his job to save Denise the spectacle of people finding out about her affair and calling out to Chip in the middle of the night. But I also had an issue with Franzen making it seem like "see he did love them, he just didn't like to show it, so all that abuse doesn't count!" Chip can rest easy now that he knows his dad loved him best, it doesn't matter that he was TERRIFIED of the man. It's like everything is erased because a sick old man occasionally thought about how much he loved his kids. Granted it seems he always treated Denise pretty well, and I did really love the sacrifice he made for her and how, in turn, that impacts current Denise. But while certain concessions can be made, at this point in time the damage is done.
I loved how the book suddenly "corrected" everyone, "we learnt some stuff about Al and Gary acted like petulant child and Chip lost his leather pants and didn't really talk about ANYTHING we'd been upset about, but suddenly we're all adjusted enough to start families with doctors and get new jobs as teachers and move to New York or to care for our dad". PUH-LEASE.
|This is both me at this final section, and Al trying to escape the hospital.|
But that's it. That's all I want to discuss. I am done with the Lamberts. I am happy to leave them and I sure as hell am not going to say goodbye. But I am sad that the readalong is over, because even though this book had some poopy moments, everyone else's posts were golden and made me appreciate and enjoy the book way more than I would have otherwise. So thanks everyone for such hilarious posts and inspired gif choices and an extra big thank you to Alley because you're awesome and you hosted this SOB like a boss.