I read Anna Quindlen's Every Last One with a little bit of hesitation -- I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book since I was one of the few people who wasn't the biggest fan for Quindlen's very popular book, Rise and Shine. I know, I know. I was one of "them."
Last weekend, I was on another flight coming back from Boston and I had just finished Raven Stole the Moon. I closed that book on the flight and thank goodness, I had Every Last One in my carry-on bag. Most of you all know that I cannot stand being on a plane when I've finished a book and then I'm stuck in the air with nothing to do but deal with all the "Bobs" out there.
In this recent Quindlen release, Mary Beth Latham is married with 3 children and lives in the suburbs. Her husband is an optometrist and Mary Beth owns her own landscaping business, and although a bit flawed, life is, for the most part, good. Ruby, her oldest daughter is going to go off to college soon, and her twin boys have just entered high school -- Alex is incredibly athletic and popular, and Max is musically-inclined and a loner. Their house in the neighborhood is beautiful. They have two cars. They have a dog. Life is...fine.
I opened up Every Last One and the first 100 pages threw me a bit for a loop -- I was drawn into it, but I just couldn't figure out why. Mary Beth's voice was so removed, almost like she was looking at her life through a camera and filming it -- distant, sad, disconnected. Usually something like this would frustrate me, but I couldn't stop reading it.
And then the last half of the book happened, and I will not give one hint away. It's good. It's really, really good. I couldn't read certain pages without tearing up or my throat closing over, and I shuddered and gasped at everything. I cannot in good conscience give a thing away.
Anna Quindlen has written with such an effortless manner to leave you completely stunned. With cunning ease, she has drawn you into the lives of one family in one town. And how quickly any one of us could be them.
Do not pass by this one. Pick it up. Drink it in. Hug your family.
I agree with some other reviews that the back of the book was somewhat of a spoiler, luckily for me I didnt read it before I read the book. This was a great and moving story. Well written and very emotional, classic Anna Quindlen.
What I loved most about this book is Anna's keen ability to draw you in with her writing. She is so very gifted. I had post-it notes on pages where there was a word I needed the definition of; so reading this book really increased my vocabulary!
I love this book so much I got the audio version as well!
All of Anna's books are tremendous.
I really enjoyed this book about a suburban mom of teenagers because Quindlen nailed the experience exactly. "Snowfall is one of the best things that can happen to a family. The centrifugal force of daily life that flings us in different directions will be stilled."
As other readers have commented, I wish I had not heard about the big "bad thing" that happens in the novel because it interfered with my reading experience. (Is this going to be the chapter when the "bad thing" happens?) Nevertheless, I liked the writing, the voice, and the ultimate message of the story. I'm one of the people who needed tissues.
I was pretty far into this book, when I thought to myself, I have no idea who some of these characters she's writing about are. That usually means I'm losing interest & skimming along. Then all of a sudden I was sucked in. And then 'the big thing' happened. I'll just say that the rest of my afternoon was spent in my reading corner, mostly crying. Some of the parts of the story were to me a little needless, out of place & unrealistic. But at the end of the story, I was glad to have read it & it certainly makes one more appreciative of every person in their life & every minute with them.
Anna Quindlen always cuts to the heart of the matter. Always. This book is stunning. Stunning. I ignored my entire family while I was reading this book. I thought of them constantly when I was reading this book. I feel like I know the characters intimately, I know the town, I know the feelings although the feelings are unimaginable.
Very good read, realistic family problems, heartbreaking, suspenseful, hopeful recovery from life's blows. I have read a couple of Anna Quindlen's books previously & this is my favorite so far.
Not one of Quindlens's best. The story concept is solid, but she populates it with too many people who never fully develop...or develop very late in the book. I found myself wanting a list of 'who's who' to help sort the characters when they popped up. Distracting.
For Mary Beth Latham, the loving mother of three children and wife of a very successful eye doctor, nothing is more important to her than her family and their well-being. She is first and foremost a mother to three teenaged children - daughter Ruby, and fraternal twin boys, Alex and Max. Her own career as a gardener and landscaper, and to a certain extent, even her marriage to her husband, Glen, tends to take a backseat to her role as a mother for Mary Beth.
Caring for her family and preserving their day-to-day happiness in life is paramount. So, when one of her sons, Max, becomes severely depressed, Mary Beth focuses on getting him the help he needs - so much so, that she is completely blindsided by a shocking act of violence - the explosive consequences of what seem to be inconsequential actions.
What follows afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman's love and determination, and to the invisible line of hope and healing that connects every human being, one to another. Ultimately, Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quinlen, is about facing every last one of our deepest fears, about finding a way to navigate roads we never intended to travel, and to live a life we never dreamed we'd have to live but must be brave enough to try.
I've read only three books by Anna Quindlen in the past, but am quickly beginning to think of her as one of my favorite authors. I must say that I absolutely loved Every Last One: A Novel. The plot was enthralling - capturing my attention from page one with likeable characters and heart-stopping drama. The story was also incredibly poignant for me. In my opinion, Anna Quindlen is a terrific author, and I'm looking forward to reading more from this author in the future.
I give Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quindlen an A+! This book is a definite keeper for me, and is perhaps my favorite book of the month.
Wow, even though I was prepared for a dramatic turn of events, it was still really powerful. Well-developed characters and great, descriptive writing kept me thinking about this for a few days after finishing it.
I really liked Anna Quindlen's New York Times column "Public and Private" and enjoyed her non-fiction. I read this book without reading the synopsis first. I am glad I did it that way. The story, told in the mother's voice, is a look into a family's everyday life - the joys, the frustrations, the ordinariness of it all. I was not prepared for the horrific event in the story and after finishing the book, found myself angry with Quindlen for even writing it. However, working with teens, I am aware of the trajectories their lives can take when stability, consistency and love are absent from their lives. On the whole, the book was quick reading. I don't think all the family characters were fleshed out enough...for example, her husband was an ophthomologist but I felt like he had blinders on throughout the story. Quindlen writes of grief and loss well and that is what saved this book for me.
True to form, Quindlen delivers a dramatic story in such a way that you feel you are part of the family so that when the tragedy hits, you feel personally assaulted. I do not recommend to anyone with kids still at home.
I will be thinking about this book for a while. Particularly at times when the little things in life seem overwhelming. A reminder of how much we have to be thankful for in the day to day routines of our lives. Something we realize only what those routines are disturbed or in this case shattered.
This book is a look at a family, their daily life and how they respond to the various challenges they face. It is like voyeurism in a way. Told mostly from the point of view of the mother.
The last third of the book involves a sharp departure from the usual flow of their daily life. I enjoyed this book. Have tissues handy.
One of the best books I've read this year
Well, this one was a page turner. At first, I couldn't put it down because I knew there was a family tragedy, and the voyeur in me wanted to get to it.(Is that sick? Well, then, Quindlen sets the reader up for that.) Once I got to the tragedy, I kept wondering what else the author had to tell me because she pretty much hands you all of the horror in one dose, so I couldn't figure out what else there was to give me, plot-wise. The narrator sort of has to go on afterwards, so what else could there be? Was there something we were not seeing? I suspected some twist or hidden mystery, but nothing much develops. The author does have one little detail up her sleeve that gets disclosed, but frankly, it seemed a little pathetic to browbeat the narrator with her one slip-up, especially after all she has gone through. It's like Quindlen wanted us to have a excuse for the tragedy when there really isn't one, and that may be the saddest thing of all.
Still, I think this book has a lot to recemmend it. Good characterizations, realistic dialogue, and, although I hope I never have any such experioence, the reactions of the characters seem completely genuine.
Anyway, my book club has slated this for the spring, and I am looking forward to the discussion. My contribution will be the following question: Wouldn't this have been a more interesting book if written from the point of view of Deborah?
I really disliked this book. I thought the plot and characters had so much potential but I was really disappointed with the way the novel flowed. I also felt like I was left wanting more at the end of the novel. It felt like the beginning was so slow, then it picked up with the big event, and then it went right back down afterwards.
An exceptionally moving novel about a mother's journey through devastating loss. The author manages to keep the reader engaged even when the tragedy is coming and then takes us through it with a new understanding and, at least to me, some hope for the future...
A family's structure is ripped apart by a horrendous tragedy, but the question is -- why did no one see it coming?
sorrowful and devastating. not really a good read for someone who has lost loved ones to violence. otherwise, a compelling read.
An excellent book. It tells the story of how a woman learns to cope after the loss of her husband and 2 kids in a senseless tragedy that she didn't see coming.