cover image We Are the Brennans

We Are the Brennans

Tracey Lange. Celadon, $26.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-250-79622-6

An errant daughter returns to the fold of her Irish Catholic family in Lange’s accomplished debut. Sunday Brennan shocked her closely-knit West Manor, N.Y., family when she left for Southern California five years earlier, and devastated her fiancé, Kale. When her oldest brother, Denny, owner of the family’s pub, is notified that Sunday nearly killed herself while driving drunk, he reliably fills his role as anchor to his three siblings and his frail father, Mickey. Denny has his own issues, including a recent separation from his wife, who has taken their young daughter with her. When Sunday returns, her homecoming is tinged with resentment, regret, and buried passion for Kale, who has since gotten married, become a father, and partnered with Denny on a new pub. To open it, Denny’s taken a risky loan from “Belfast Billy,” a guy the Brennans grew up with who works on the pub reno crew. The untrustworthy Billy’s dicey role in the pub’s future dovetails with secrets involving Mickey’s past and Billy’s relationship to the family; all this culminates in the revelation of the reason Sunday fled. Lange’s narrative perspectives are keenly realized, and she keeps all of the Brennans sizzling with humanity while they grapple with familial loyalty. Fans of intense family dramas are in for a treat. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Susanna Lea Assoc. (Aug.)