The basics: Every Last One is the story of Mary Beth Latham, a wife and mother of three: Ruby, a high school senior, and fraternal twins Max and Alex, who are ninth grade.
My thoughts: I do enjoy Quindlen's use of language, and these characters were certainly dynamic. It seemed obvious to me that something was looming over these characters from early on in the book. I felt like a very paranoid reader as warning signs piled up and didn't explode. Then, when I didn't actually suspect it, Quindlen drops this novel into a completely different place. I won't spoil it for you, but I will tell you I was reading it in a coffee shop and my jaw dropped open and I audibly gasped. Yes, it's dark, but I think it's authentic. What I'm unsure about it is if it's necessary. I am not opposed to depressing novels, but I do want the emotions authors make me feel to be worthwhile, and I don't think Quindlen met that challenge here. Ultimately, I don't believe this story needed to be told. I'm sure there will be readers who disagree with me, but I didn't especially enjoy the novel, even though I enjoyed the characters and the writing. It started with promise, as Mary Beth recalled the night she met her husband:
"Sometimes I remind myself that I almost skipped the party, that I almost went to a different college, that the whim of a minute could have changed everything and everyone. Our lives, so settled, so specific, are built on happenstance." (page 72, ARC)I cried through the last hundred pages, so it's hard to say I wasn't emotionally engaged, but I was unsatisfied. After thoroughly enjoying Rise and Shine, I was disappointed.
The verdict: Despite strong writing and characters, this novel didn't work for me. If you like weepy women's fiction with depth, you may like this novel. If you like more nuanced substance, read Rise and Shine instead.
Rating: 3 stars
Length: 300 pages
Publication date: April 13, 2010
Source: I received this book for review from the publisher via Crazy Book Tours.
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