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All That Matters

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  722 ratings  ·  129 reviews
What's the greatest gift that one person can give another?

Jan Goldstein's stunning debut novel, All That Matters, is a deeply moving, endearing tale of a young woman who, with the help of her feisty grandmother, makes a journey from the very brink of death and despair into a full embrace of life.

Jennifer Stempler has nothing left to lose: the love of her life dumped her, h
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 8th 2004 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  722 ratings  ·  129 reviews

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Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Jennifer Stempler had been living in a world of loss and betrayal, and could find no way of escaping it. After a suicide attempt, and showing no remorse, Jennifer is released to her grandmother's care, along with psychological counseling.

Feisty and lovable Gabby Zuckerman, Nana to Jennifer, was determined to help her granddaughter find her way out of the darkness and back into the light.

Barry Stempler, a less than desirable father to Jennifer, tried hard to make up for his past poor qualities
Sep 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
Completely formulaic schmaltz. You know how it ends after about 2 pages. Unlikeable, undeveloped characters, except for the grandmother. Surely, this must've been an assignment for a creative writing class? Acceptable for YA readers. Otherwise, are you kidding? The story may be "moving", but I think I just got a lesson in how to write abook about anything, by rote, really quickly. Come on now. Pretty cover....
Isn't it great that problems are so easy to solve!?

Sappy. Painfully sappy. Not one of my better grabs off the library "popular fiction" shelf.

Jun 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
It tried really hard but didn’t quite make it.
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
This book was amazing and I would highly recommend it!! It has a little bit of a love story mixed in with the grandmother and granddaughter bonding just after the granddaughter trying to take her life. I was in tears more than once during this book and the more that I think about this book, I do still have a little sadness left in my heart.
Andrew Mattson
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very short but touching story about a grandmother who had very little time left to live and get granddaughter who felt she had no point in living.

When Jennifer tries to commit suicide on a beach in California, after her depression at the death of her mother 5 years ago, a bad relationship with her father, and a boyfriend she loved so much also leaving her, she feels like she has nothing left to live for. This brings her grandmother Gabby, who has emphysema in her lungs, flys to be by
Tatiana Maia
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned
Hmmm... Nope
The best I can say about this book is that it is a short one. The oversimplification of depression is to much for me to handle, and still not the worst thing about it. The disrespect of psychologists (that specific scene I'm thinking about enraged me so much) and the author's "in your face" moralistic remarks made me feel like throwing way this book.
Also, the pacing is not good (things like "after this we spent a week doing that, and now we are here") and the third person omniscient
Mary Preston
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book pulled me right in at the beginning . Theres a ton of tradegy but u can tell right away that theres is alot of potential for beauty to happen in the main charactets life even if they only show it in little ways through the book and i love how the woman in the book does not recover from her sucide attempt overnight or fast in anyway or that her sadness is not treated as a phase that will go away cause as someone who has had sucide attempts it takes time to recover from all of that stuff ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful story...about serious sad life issues with heartwarming reality of the power of important relationships especially family/grandparent roles intervening in lives when it matters the most.
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lovely little book that reminds us what is important in life. It is a good idea to ask ourselves, 'What was the gift today?'
Donna Hervieux
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved the layers of this book and the character of Jennifer's grandmother, Gabby. A window into the life of a Holocost survivor. Loved it, yes, made me cry at the end.
Melissa Gamm
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was drivel, easily forgettable, and the writing was bad as well. The only thing good about it was short length, so I didn't waste much time with it.
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this book, it really touched me, and that surprised me. Very relatable and well developed story and characters.
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book touched my heart on so many levels and I had the best cry of the year, reading this book.
Nancy Richards-Eisener
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Compelling, captivating read about life and death, and about our illusions of choices over either one.
Dianne Lien
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In All That Matters, Grandma gives life lessons to her granddaughter. "Each day is a gift. It is all about making life an opportunity. Sometimes gifts come in the form of great sadness." It is the type of reading that you do not want to put down, start to finish.
Carolann Krause
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer had nothing left to loose. Her mother died in a car accident and her father remarried and started another family. He had no time for Jennifer and he was a Hollywood producer. Jennifer decides to take her life on the beach in Venice California. Her father wants her to be sent away for help. Her grandmother Gabby came in from New York to take her back with her to try and Rehabilitate her. The father fought her but she won. Gabby was her mothers mother. She bought her to a doctor for help ...more
Mar 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I absolutely enjoyed this small (198 pages) book. I guess I am always going to like books that make me feel something, and this one did.

It starts out being about a young lady that is in the act of committing suicide, but not successfully. Her mother has already died, and her father has moved on marrying again and has a new little daughter, and so Jennifer feels deserted, among other things. She ends up in the hospital for psychological evaluation, and who shows up but her grandmother from the o
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this book off and on for a week now. It has beautiful prose that I fall in love with, but the story is just not one I'm currently jonesin for at the moment. I'm sure I will continue to enjoy it though.

The first 3/4 of the book I was really into. The poetry of the authors voice was awesome. The fact that this was written by a male author left me feeling like a miracle had happened, a guy traipsing through a woman's psyche, like he knew what he was talking about? priceless.
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful story of life! A young girl tries to commit suicide but is saved. Her life is in turmoil and she feels hopeless. Her parents were divorced and her father pays her little heed. Her mother is her confidant and sole support. Tragically her mother is killed by someone running a stop light. Her world falls apart and she feels alone and hopeless. Her ancient grandmother visits her in the hospital and persuades the doctors and her father to allow the girl to spend time under the grandmother ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was not at all impressed with this. It was a Reading Group recommendation and I can certainly see where the subjects in the book could stir up book club discussion but as far as being a believable, attention-grabbing book--it was not. Jennifer, who is in her early twenties, has recently lost her mother and now her boyfriend has walked out on her. She decides to take her own life. When her plan doesn't work, the doctors feel one option is to place her in a facility where she can work on her iss ...more
Jul 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Loved this book - brought tears to me eyes several times and here are a few quotes I liked:

Sunset is that magical time of day when heaven and earth kiss.

p. 135 "There are times when it seems everything good in life has been taken from us. But, if you open your eyes, your heart, you will find there are still gifts waiting for you each day. Sometimes it will not be an easy thing to see them. Sometimes you will have to work to find them.

p. 138 "There is a gift waiting for you each day. If you're w
Shonna Froebel
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel focuses on 23-year-old Jennifer Stempler, a young woman who is severely depressed to the point of attempting suicide. After her father's departure at a young age, she and her mother struggled. When her mother died in a traffic accident her senior year, she struggled with the loss. Now that her serious boyfriend has dumped her, she can't see anything worth living for.
But her grandmother won't give up on her, and fights to take her home to New York and help her find her health again. Al
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
I'm a sucker for cheesy things. I love all things sappy, sweet, and sentimental. That said, I found this book to be - very frequently - too cheesy.

One thing I must say right away: I greatly admire many of the sentiments that Goldstein presents here, especially a concept of finding some gift in every day and the general values of understanding and respecting the history of your grandparents.

However, I felt as a general whole that the characters seemed very much like stock characters. I found them
Clare Cannon
Apr 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adults
What starts as a somewhat ragged story about a young woman who is ready to give up on life grows into a beautiful, life-affirming tale of love between a granddaughter and her indomitable grandmother. The first half of the novel covers some rough ground, but while there is some language and difficult themes the content is not gratuitous. As the two grow closer together the quality of the story picks up, and with the granddaughter we learn to discover the richness and beauty of life even amidst - ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars

This book surprised me by not being what I thought it was going to be about. Usually I can guess a story and I didn't guess this one. I thought it was going to be funny, and parts of it were, but there were so many layers of sadness as well.

Jennifer is tired of her life and tries to take it by overdosing at the beach. Her elderly Grandmother, Gabby steps in and takes her to New York to recover and try and bring her back from the depths of depression she is in. Gabby teaches Jennifer to
Kae Larsen
May 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book starts out with a young 23 serious on killng herself. She is alone in the world as she sees it, all of the people she loved seem to have either abandoned her, her mother had died. She is in California, and her grandmother Gabby is in New York. Gabby comes to the side of her granddaughter although she is quite old and frail and ill herself...
This story teaches that as hard as we have it someone else somewhere has it much harder and sometimes we just need to persevere, and things will be
May 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young women
Recommended to Judy by: ?
Shelves: my-2011-books
This is a sweet and uncomplicated story -- both joyful and sad at turns and sometimes all at once. The story is about a young woman who is suicidal, depressed, has lived through some very sad events, like the loss of her mom. Her grandmother, a feisty Yiddishe lady with emphysema, coaches her back to the side of the living. It made me laugh and also shed a few tears. I would have given it a 4/5, but it was also formulaic and too short for further development of the characters, but I think it wou ...more
Lori Carpenter
I just bought about 5 books on B&N's clearance sale for about $4 a piece. They were all worth the $4 but I'm glad I didn't pay full price. This was another one that was at the very least, worth my time; but nothing to write home about.

It is a story of a 23 year old who tries to commit suicide and her feisty, emphysema-ridden, Nazi-survivor grandmother brings her back from the brink with good old fashioned love. The grandmother character was the best part of the book. Wish we all had one like he
rated it did not like it
Apr 16, 2007
Suzze Tiernan
rated it it was ok
May 22, 2007
added it
Jun 03, 2007
rated it liked it
Oct 21, 2007
Roland Migchielsen
rated it it was amazing
Dec 25, 2007
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Jan 20, 2008
Jan 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Everyday holds a gift. We just need to sit back at the end of the day and reflect on what has happened. Just waking up in the morning may be your gift for the day.

Easy short read. Finished in less than 24 hours.
marked it as to-read
Feb 23, 2008
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A slim novel about a suicidal young woman and how her feisty Holocaust survivor grandmother tries to save her. Schmlatzy and not well written.
marked it as to-read
Aug 05, 2008
Sep 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book! Makes you really think about life.
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes a good "life" story.
Recommended to Dawn by: Came across it at the bookstore & thought it sounded interesting
This was a very touching book that will make you cry. It is the story of a young woman who fails at committing suicide and her Holocaust Survivor grandmother who make her reexamine her life and appreciate all she has. I really enjoyed this story.
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Linda Heathington
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Jan Goldstein is the author of two national fiction bestsellers, All That Matters and The Prince of Nantucket, recently optioned for film. His work has been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and has been selected for the New York Times Hot List as well as by the Book of the Month Club, the Doubleday Book Club, and the Q

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