Heidi's Reviews > Every Last One

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
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May 22, 12

bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read in February, 2012

Without giving too much away:

The story is being told by the character of Mary Beth Latham, a happily married mother of three teenagers , whose central role in life revolves around her family and keeping her children safe. Being a mother is not an easy job. Mary Beth incessantly worries about her son Max, always quieter and more troubled than his twin brother Alex, when he becomes withdrawn and depressed, and about her vibrant and talented daughter Ruby, who has finally recovered from an eating disorder but is now in the process of splitting with her long-term boyfriend Kiernan. When Mary Beth's life is turned upside down by a tragic event she must pick up the pieces and keep going as best as she can for the sake of her family.

There were parts of the book I really enjoyed and some that I didn't. Firstly, about half of the book is spent describing Mary Beth's life as a mum, the often mundane routines of cooking, shopping, kids' sports and agonising over little family dramas. Having teenage children myself I could relate to the author's descriptions and observations, and Mary Beth seemed genuine and believable, but I admit I got a bit bored and was waiting for something to happen - anything!

When something did finally happen, it came out of nowhere for me (because I had the ebook I had not read the jacket description or any reviews) and was duly shocking and awe inspiring. Not wanting to put in any spoilers, the event turns Mary Beth's life upside down in a way no mother would ever want to imagine.

Despite the author's very astute observations of the aftermath of tragedy and how people cope, there was something missing for me in the second part of the book, which I cannot quite put my finger on. I do believe that we all deal differently with tragedy, but Mary Beth does so too smoothly somehow, too seamlessly fitting into her new life, considering that her whole identity had been built around her perfect family. One family secret which comes to light in the later part of the book also seems totally out of character, and did not need to be there.

Anyhow, I loved the author's descriptive writing style and vibrant dialogue, which kept me reading on to the end and which made the characters real and believable. Though the novel did not quite live up to its full potential, it was a more or less enjoyable read, giving insights into modern family life.
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