All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

All We Ever Wanted Book Cover All We Ever Wanted
Emily Giffin
Women's Fiction
Ballantine Books
June 26,2018
Kindle, Hardback, Audible, Audio CD

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 teenaged 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.

Not what I expected…

but then again I’m not sure I had great expectations for All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin.  One of our other reviewers was having a hard time reading it, I was never told why, so I was asked to take it.  Usually that doesn’t bode well for the book but I tried to go in with an open mind.  There are a number of cliches that really fit this experience; “life isn’t black and white”, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, “just when you think you have it all figured out” are a few that come to mind.   Emily’s work is and isn’t what you expect, it explores hard topics yet is an entertaining and suspenseful read, and it makes you realize that the truth is always found somewhere in the middle if you are willing to listen to all sides of a situation.

All We Ever Wanted explores a number current issues at play in society today.  The plot explores how the choices of immature teens can have quicker and more devastating implications as the result of social media.  Emily also wants the reader to consider the role that societal expectations of wealth and prestige plays on warping the ethical and moral framework of our youth.  She also makes you evaluate then reevaluate how you arrive at conclusions based on the stereotypes or beliefs you have about different types of people.  While the story-line is extremely thought provoking, the main reason most of us like to read books is for the fun of it,  All We Ever Wanted  is highly entertaining.

Emily writes with fluid word pictures and vibrant characters.  Her plot is full of twists and turns and will have you reading “just one more page” so you can find out what happens next.  Your impression of the characters will swing back and forth like a pendulum many times throughout the book.   In the end you will realize that you just experienced one of those hidden gems in literature, a book that is both contemplative and entertaining but that mimics real life.  It will affirm that there are no fairy tale endings just real people trying to make the best choices they can with the hand they have been dealt.

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