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All That Matters

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  671 ratings  ·  122 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
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Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 8th 2004 by Hachette Books (first published January 1st 2004)
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3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  671 ratings  ·  122 reviews


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Wanda
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
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Prunella
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....
Dree
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.


Sara
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
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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
Cynthia
May 22, 2019 rated it liked it
3.0
Touching story. The whole horse thing is a bit much and I could have done without the romance bits, but I enjoyed it.
Cute trip to Maine in the second half is almost a traveling guide
Holocaust survivor story was interesting, but also very simplified
Feels a bit dated (early 2000s, no cellphone)
"Magic cure" to suicidal thoughts
Beverly
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?'
Cathi
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.
Beth
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.
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
Patty
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
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Krystal
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.
Jessi
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Laura
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
Beverly
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
Suzanne
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
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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
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Rianne
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
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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
Anita
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
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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
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Judy
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 lik
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Mahdis
Feb 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
2005 Readers Choice Award Winner. This is a nice little book about a holocaust survivor who is trying to teach her suicidal granddaughter the value of life. It is an easy read, nothing magical in writing ability or imagination. It did not hold my attention very well. My take away from this book was Granny's survival skill of finding a "gift" she is given each day and recording them. Similar to a gratitude journal. I have always liked that concept and will always think of Granny when I see a yell ...more
Bekah
Dec 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a bit of a departure from my usual fare, and though I must admit I finished it within 2 hours, it's not something I would reread. The thing that caught me despite the secular viewpoint though, was the theme: the beauty of life, even through heartache. To be aware of the little gifts in life, because sometimes they're the big things.


Rated PG-13 for drug use, language, and brief sexual content.
Melanie
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I really liked this book. I wish I had a grandmother like Gabby!

Jennifer is 23, and very unhappy with her life. Her mother was killed before the senior prom, and Jennifer has never gotten over this. Mother and father were divorced many years before. Jennifer tries to commit suicide, her grandmother comes to the hospital, and the story takes off from there.

It is a story of love, life, persistance, and looking for the gifts around us, everyday.
Ishtar
Dec 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una novela que corta que se lee muy rápido. Es emotiva y directa, sobre las segundas oportunidades y sobre cómo todos deberíamos aprender a disfrutar de la vida y del hecho de estar vivos. A Jennifer, la protagonista, a veces dan ganas de zarandearla por los hombros para que espabile un poco y en cambio su abuela Gabby es amor.

Como punto negativo por el que no le pongo las 5 estrellas, es bastante predecible desde el principio.
Champaign Public Library
Jan 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: staff-recommends
By turns, funny and tragic, this is the story of a young woman who botches an attempt to end her life after her beloved mother dies in a senseless accident, the love of her life dumps her, and her self-absorbed Hollywood producer father tries to force a relationship with his new family. The only person who can save her from herself is her grandmother who loves her granddaughter unconditionally and has much to teach her from her own life as a survivor.
Carma
May 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
The premise of this book is more promising than is the reality, however when the grandmother teaches her granddaughter how to rid herself of the things that are holding her down, that part is brilliant writing that should be read and memorized by anyone who is or ever has been depressed. I would advise reading the last twenty pages or so only.
Madyson
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013-2017
Aw, this book was so bad but still so cute. The characters were, as another reviewer put it, just stock characters, and furthermore the entire plot fit into that category. More predictable than a lifetime film and so bad in so many ways. It was sweet, though.
Mindee
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
A lot predictable and sometimes a bit sappy but nonetheless a quick read about Jennifer and a Grandmother who comes to her aid and in turn their relationship is renewed. Grandma is able to share her life during WW II with her granddaughter.
Jane
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A very uplifting book. There were parts that could have been better, but a quick read that made me feel better for reading it. If possible I would have rated it 3 and a half stars instead of 4. But the story itself was a good.
Kristie Jarmusz
Nov 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I found myself crying at different stages if the story. There were a few parts that I didn't agree with the language but it was easy to overlook. I would consider it a must read. It is an inspiring story
Plschaus
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
The theme started out pretty dark but it turned into a touching love story between a grandmother and her troubled grand daughter. She teaches her to love life whether it brings happiness or sorrow it's a gift worth living everyday.
Breeanne
Jul 11, 2014 rated it liked it
I did enjoy this overall, but it does have some vulgar language occasionally. I did like the message in the story and think it is important for all of us to realize the impact we can have on one another-good or bad.
Danielle
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The beginning was so-so, but as I kept reading I got more into it. The stories from her past that the grandmother shared with her granddaughter were touching. I teared up quite a few times. Overall, I really liked it.
Jean Perry
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Loved it! Interesting how the reviews are all over the place. Some might call it schmaltzy - i might have been one, except that Goldstein does a good job of including just the right amount of humor to keep a story about a suicidal granddgt and a survivor grandmother from being depressing/schmaltzy. His ability to write women's voices and behaviors is incredible.
Nicole
Nov 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Beautiful book that I found at DC Union Station while waiting for a bus, just at a time I needed it. I was worried it would be Nicholas Sparks cheesy, but it wasn't. Overall a very pleasant read, and reminder of what matters.
Maria
Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Nice story about a grandmother/granddaughter relationship. Brings the granddaughter back from being suicidal (a little easier than in real life). Depicts a really cool trip in Maine with places I want to visit someday
Karen
Feb 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the best little books I've ever read. It is about a Holocaust survivor grandmother and her suicidal grand-daughter. Well developed characters and a phenomenal lesson that will last this reader a lifetime.
Bluma Schneider
Apr 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed the book very much! Excellent narrative between grandmother and granddaughter. Fst moving story but deep message. Very inspirational. I hope the author writes another book soon if it hasn't been done.
Natalie
May 15, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a story of a woman who tries to kill herself. Her grandmother saves her by telling her about her experience as a Jew among the Nazis. Okay read. I was bored in a few places. It is a short book.
Laura
Feb 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: holocaust
The grandmother in this story reminded me of my mom in some ways...perhaps that's why I enjoyed the book so much. Or just the notion that we can look for the joy in even the darkest moments.
Chris
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
The wonderful positive way this grandma teaches her suicidal granddaughter to see life is awesome! It makes me want to start the practice of sharing tender mercies with my family at night!
Natalie Collins
Mar 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I could think of worse ways to spend two hours. Very redeeming characters. Reads like a Lifetime movie. Perfect feel good story for the days of gloom and mist we have been experiencing as of late!
Christy Barnum
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book to be amazing everything that Jennifer had to go through. The bonding of a granddaughter and grandmother was great. love this book
Robin
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A heart warming story about a lost young woman and her aged grandmother, both of whom have scores to settle with life, and a great deal to offer each other.
Joni
Dec 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
A young woman attempts suicide and survives and learns the value of life, love, family and the joy of awakening to the gratitude for all she is given daily.
Tamra
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
Predictable, boring, cheesy and schmaltzy. The author was clearly going for a moving, touching story and it was sweet in spots, but overall I wasn't too crazy about it.
Janetkc7wvy
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed the story of the grandmother's love and experiences (in Nazi Germany) uplifting the granddaughter who wasn't sure life was worth living.
Lisa
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Quick easy read!

A look at an amazing grandmother and what she will do out of love for her granddaughter, who thinks she has nothing to live for!

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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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