Review: All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

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☆☆➹⁀☆ 4 stars ☆➹⁀☆☆



What It’s About:

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all |  questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

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My Thoughts:

All we ever wanted was wealth, comfort, happiness, acceptance, and love.  Emily Giffin’s latest novel, All We Ever Wanted is a coming-of-age story within a family drama.

Ms. Giffin’s story outlines the evils of affluence.  Her message that with money comes a sense of entitlement that allows one to believe they only have to answer to themselves is not subtle.  Many of her key characters feel justified in any action if it secures them their rightful place in their socio-economic class.

All We Ever Wanted is narrated from three points of view.  After years of marriage, Nina Browning finally comes to the realization that her husband is a user and a liar.  Worse yet, he is teaching their son to be the same.  She is a passive heroine.  She is supportive of Lyla Volpe, who {allegedly} her son as publicly shamed, however, she makes no effort to push her son to own his misbehavior and accept the consequences of that admission.  Single dad, Tom Volpe, tries his best to be a good role model and a protective father.  He is not wholly successful, however, he is by far the only character who seems to be truly a good person.  Lyla Volpe, the third narrator, is a typical teen.  She is desperate to be noticed and to fit into with the cool kids at her posh private school.  She makes serial bad choices, and she easily falls prey to the charms of Nina’s womanizing son and his friends.

Lyla’s story, along with that of her classmate Polly, allows Ms. Giffin to show her readers the pitfalls of social media and underage drinking.  The author also broaches the tough topic of teen suicide   None of these topics are explored in depth, but the author does show how quickly the well-to-do circle their wagons when accusations are made.

The story is well paced. There are a few likable characters, however, the only narrator I had empathy for was Tom Volpe.  I liked the trajectory of Lyla’s life both in terms of her decision to tough out the rest of high school and later her happy and successful life.  However, I was not completely satisfied with Tom, Nina and Finch’s story.  The lack of justice is sadly realistic, but does result in an unsatisfying end.  All We Ever Wanted is an excellent book for meaty book club discussions.



© Copyright 2018 Book Junkie Reviews. All rights reserved.


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