Sara's Reviews > Everything We Ever Wanted

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard
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Nov 29, 11

it was ok
bookshelves: adult-lit
Read in January, 2011

This book exhausted me. So many troubled stories intertwined. Not troubled like drug abuse, or alcoholism, or literally crazy…Troubled like, letting a misunderstanding, or letting a misperception of a person haunt you for life.

Seriously, the Bates-McAllister family is living entombed in the Great-Grandfather’s house. Like not one piece of silverware has changed in two generations. The mother, Sylvie is driven to maintain the life of her beloved Grandfather to the point of stifling growth in her own family. Her husband James died amongst a secret that may or may not have ruined their marriage [yet we stare at the key that could reveal all for THE ENTIRE BOOK]. Son Charles grew up with a lack of self-esteem complex that again, may have been solved had he looked around and gained insight. He marries Joanna who had previously been weirdly obsessed with the family and desires/despises the idea of being a Stepford wife. Finally, we have Scott the half black adopted child, who may simultaneously be the most perceptive character of the novel…or the most messed up…jury is still out.

I can’t even dredge up the enthusiasm to break down the multitude of intertwined themes and issues. About halfway through the book I was reading simply to attain an ending. Waiting for someone to confront someone else. Anyone else.

Honestly, I respect Shepard’s desire to portray real lives in this novel. I think she was going for an inner-workings-of-a-family thing. It didn’t really work for me…And I’ll tell you why:

This is about a WASP-type family. The coolness between characters, while potentially accurate…also caused most of their trouble. I found myself amazed that a family could grow up together and yet be so distant to each other. What mother knows so little about her children?
Nobody talked. Again WASP-accurate, but alienating. Once you know all the secrets behind the twists and turns you’ll be railing against the book too! Geeze, if only someone had broken, if only someone had let a secret drop in a moment of anger, or understanding. How many years of life this family could have had!
The end, for me, was too little too late. Sure, everyone figures it out. Heck, the back cover gives that away. You know they’ll all learn from their mistakes…move down an unexpected, but happier path in life. But again, I have to reiterate: Too little, too late. I just don’t believe everyone’s neurosis were cleaned up in such short order that late in life. Nope. I don’t.
Ultimately, I don’t mind struggling with a family. This book was talking about the minutia that drives all of our lives. All of our decisions. The book looked at how we view and interact with the world. The book was about a bunch of uptight people too self-involved to give it all up and have a little fun. Where was the vallium? The pill they give for Social Anxiety Disorder? I think Shepard took it too far. Allowed her characters to become too intense about such small issues. They weren’t fully fleshed out. Each simply represented their problem…and that was about it.

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