Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen ~ Book Review

The front cover of the book described this as "...an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions."  I think because of this I had certain expectations going into the story.

Mary Beth Latham is happily married, has a thriving landscaping business and is mother to a daughter and twin sons.   The daughter is a popular high schooler who has been dating the same boy for years and one twin is a star athlete while the other is more to himself and into music.  When one son develops depression Mary Beth naturally starts to put more focus onto him.  Then tragedy strikes and she faces the biggest challenge of all navigating through grief and the unthinkable to find hope and courage to go on.

Because of the front cover description, I approached this story constantly waiting for this violent event to occur.  I think because of this it skewed the story a bit for me and I almost put it down.  I could not get engaged with the narrative in the first half of the book.   Every page turn kept me looking for this event, and I found myself getting quite bored with the ordinary life of a family with teenagers. The fact that the story building was a bit choppy or disjointed didn't help to draw me in either.   I also found it difficult to really like any of the characters and so they didn't grab me.  So this was almost a DNF for me had it not been for someone encouraging me to keep plugging away.   After the horrific "event", of course, the story does pick up.  This was where I finally started to if not like, at least sympathize, for the characters.  It was heartbreaking and I found myself really hurting for Mary Beth and cheering her on as she tries to get their lives back on track to some semblance of normal.   As the story moves on things are revealed that are just sad and maddening and the exploration of how seemingly small choices later turn into big consequences starts to take place.  I, as the reader, was left thinking what could have been done differently to have avoided the whole thing, as I'm sure the character of Mary Beth lived with.    How many things do we do or say unthinkingly, or stupidly, or with an "I don't care" attitude, or not realizing that it will later affect the course of our lives and the lives of others?  How often are we so caught up in the obvious that we miss things elsewhere?  I found the exploration of this eye opening and while it drew sympathy out of me and made me think, it honestly did not make me like the characters any better.   That said, I couldn't help but root for Mary Beth to find the courage to face that and find some kind of  hope to move on with what life now was for her family. I thought how the author handled the aftermath was well done.  I must say, though, that because of the nature of the story, it is a tough and heavy read in the second half tackling a tough subject and it definitely left me needing something light and airy to read next.

I give it a 7.5/10 because the author took on a very hard subject and I do like how she handled the second half of the story and the challenges the characters had to face in just making it through their days.  


nikkipolani said...

It's hard for me to press on through a book that fails to hook me within the first chapter or two. You are tenacious to have made it to the end even with such unlikable characters!

Wendy said...

I hate not finishing a book so always try to persevere because sometimes it will be worth it. Good review.

Faith said...

I remember reading this one but i don't really remember the story at all!! I do remember that it wasn't my fave of hers. I loved her first one (Black and Blue)