Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »

Friday, June 29, 2018

Book Review: All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

This is what I consider a horror novel. There isn't blood and guts or a killer at large, but the plot itself felt like I was reading a horror novel. It made me tense, queasy, and anxious. While reading, I kept wanting to know who the photographer was and thinking, "This is my worst nightmare."

But, but, but... I am by no means telling you NOT to read it. Instead, I am telling you the exact opposite. Giffin has stretched herself with this one and has moved far from her rom-com writing days to write a novel that will scare the crap out of parents with teenagers or soon-to-be teenagers. Taking the plot straight from the headlines, she writes a layered novel that will make parents less likely to say, "My kid would never..."

All We Ever Wanted tells the story of the aftermath of a teenage girl, Lyla, who has a little too much to drink at a high school party and finds out the next day that a picture that was taken when she was blacked-out and exposes her breast with a derogatory racist caption is being shared throughout the entire school community. The aftermath is told through the eyes of Lyla, her father (Tom), and the mother of the boy who is accused is taking and sharing the photograph (Nina).

Set within an upper-crust elite private school, there are racial issues and socio-economic factors at play as well. Here is where Giffin does something different: Nina, the mother of the possible photo taker and distributor, does not blindly jump to her son's defense. Instead, she searches for the truth and reevaluates her son's and her husband's characters.

Giffin does a great job of showing how these things happen and the possible consequences. The book is a fast read - especially because the reader will want to know the truth and rush to find it. Side note - the truth is unclear throughout the novel, which I really appreciated.

I finished the novel a couple of days ago, but I had to sit on it before I reviewed it because...the ending. The ending will leave your mouth hanging opened and your fists shaking at the ceiling. And, you will still have questions. But, now that I have had time to digest it, I appreciate the ending because I feel like it is clearly representative of how you would hear these types of stories from a friend - like a glimpse back over the shoulder without all the details but just the key points.

Trigger warning - This book deals with sexual assault and personal harm.

All We Ever Wanted was released this week and will be a great book club pick or summer read.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with this copy to read and review!

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