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Every Last One

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The latest novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Anna Quindlen

In this breathtaking and beautiful novel, the #1 New York Times" bestselling author Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions.

Mary Beth Latham has built her life around her family, around caring for her three teenage children and preserving the rituals of their daily life. When one of her sons becomes depressed, Mary Beth focuses on him, only to be blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman's love and determination, and to the invisible lines of hope and healing that connect one human being with another. Ultimately, as rendered in Anna Quindlen's mesmerizing prose, Every Last One" is a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, and about living a life we never dreamed we'd have to live, but find ourselves brave enough to try.

299 pages, Hardcover

First published April 13, 2010

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About the author

Anna Quindlen

92 books3,705 followers
Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue, Blessings, Rise and Shine, Every Last One, Still Life with Bread Crumbs, and Miller’s Valley. Her memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bestseller. Her book A Short Guide to a Happy Life has sold more than a million copies. While a columnist at The New York Times she won the Pulitzer Prize and published two collections, Living Out Loud and Thinking Out Loud. Her Newsweek columns were collected in Loud and Clear.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,942 reviews
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,909 followers
June 28, 2011
Raw. Powerful. Real. Not for cynics or sissies.
If you have experienced a devastating event that has permanently divided your life into a "Before" and an "After," this book will really speak to your heart. I know it spoke to mine. If you're fortunate enough not to have been through the fire, there's much to be gained here in understanding another person's pain and knowing how best to help them.

For maximum impact, it's best to know as little as possible prior to reading the book. When I brought it home, I looked it up here on Good Reads. The first review I saw said not to even read the inside flap of the dust jacket. I took that advice, and I'm glad I did.
I will say this: The first half of the book seems like rather ordinary domestic fiction. Soccer moms, summer camp, proms, upper middle class marriage... In other words, not my cuppa. I almost gave up about 100 pages in. I kept going because I've liked two of Quindlen's other books.
When you get to the second half, you'll see the reason for the relatively bland first half. After "the event" in your life, whatever it may be, you long for the ordinariness of that "Before" time and resent yourself for having been so complacent. On page 192, Mary Beth observes:
"One of the worst aspects of living now on the far shore is that across the chasm I can see my glib unknowing former self. I despise that woman, her foolish little worries and her cheap sympathies. She knew nothing. But I can't truly wish on her what I know now."

Every Last One is a book I will read again. Meanwhile, "This is my life. I am trying."
Profile Image for Deanna .
665 reviews12.4k followers
November 6, 2015
4.5 stars

I can't believe I forgot about this book! Granted I read it over 5 years ago, but when I saw a friend had recently reviewed it, it all came flooding back.

I remember after I read it, it was all I could think about for days.....

Mary Beth Latham is a devoted mother of three children. Lately she finds herself thinking more and more about how fast life goes. She feels like her children have grown into teenagers almost overnight.

Told from Mary Beth's point of view, the first half of novel is about the Latham family. We learn about each family member and what happens in their daily lives. I know that some people found the first half really slow but I feel that the author wanted the reader to really know this family......before

When I first started reading this novel, the only thing I knew was that is was about a family tragedy. I didn't even read the description on the back of the book.

Honestly I don't think there's much more I can say about it as I don't want to spoil it. However, I will say that I was gutted by the events in the book. I was an emotional mess. Some people may find it too upsetting but I'm still glad I read it. It's a book that will make you cry, make you angry and make you think....

This novel made me question the way I parent and also parenting in general. How and when to discipline, when to intervene, when to let go and about a thousand other questions that came to mind in regards to the different ways in which we all parent. Now that I'm the parent of a teenager I question it even more.

A Quote from the book:

"I never thought anything really bad would happen. It was all the good things that seemed real to me --- where they'd go off to college and where they'd live and what my grandchildren would call me."

The writing is authentic, the characters so well-developed. I was completely engrossed in this book from beginning to end. This may be a hard read for some. It is a tragic, emotional, and powerful read that you won't soon forget.
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 2 books716 followers
October 4, 2022
Ooft. Well, THAT took an unexpected turn...

Having read, and re-read, Quindlen's incredible 'One True Thing', I wanted to try another of her novels. I chose this particular title on a whim, and now suspect it's impossible to go wrong with Quindlen's books. I won't say anything about the story as I think it's important to approach this one blind. Suffice to say, the story was every bit as well told and heartbreakingly written and as her earlier work.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12.3k followers
September 23, 2019
Traveling Sister Read Review by NORMA, LINDSAY and BRENDA!!

4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars for EVERY LAST ONE as this novel took us all on an extremely emotional roller coaster of a ride!

EVERY LAST ONE by ANNA QUINDLEN is a novel that can be compared to riding a very steep roller coaster. The first half of the book was the slow chug up the hill, anticipation for the thrill to kick in, wondering when that huge ‘drop’ is going to happen. Once you hit the MAJOR ‘drop’ at around the halfway point, you are in for a breathtaking, emotional, and page-turning ride that doesn’t stop until the very last chapter.

EVERY LAST ONE is a highly emotional, spectacular, and beautiful but yet disquieting novel that offers a deep exploration of family relationships and female friendships.

“Sometimes I live so much in my mind that I forget what is before my eyes."

When we meet Mary Beth she is living a pretty ordinary, happy, and somewhat perfect life. We get to know her daughter, twin sons and her husband though her perspective as she gives us a good picture of her life. She is involved and connected with her children but yet distracted and unaware at the same time. The things that make us human and sometimes even when we are doing everything right, bad things can still happen.

ANNA QUINDLEN does a great job bringing truth and understanding of human behaviour and emotions to this heartbreaking story that had Lindsay in tears for most of the second half of this novel.

While the first half of this story did drag a little for us as it was all about character development – it builds the backstory and gives the family history needed to fully understand the entire plot. Then the second half hits you with a bang which makes you understand and appreciate the first half so much more. We all felt a satisfying sense of closure at the end of the novel.

We all loved the main character, Mary Beth! Her perspective and narrative was very relatable and powerfully written which made this an extremely enjoyable and incredibly great book for all of us as we had lots to discuss and enjoyed the conversation immensely!

All of our Traveling Sister Reads Reviews can be found on our blog:
May 1, 2017
Another amazing Traveling Sister Read with Brenda and Norma! Once again, it was an honour to be included in one of their amazing sister reads - I loved every second of it! This was a great book to read together as it was very intense and sparked a lot of interesting conversation.

4.5 stars rounded up to 5 stars for EVERY LAST ONE as this novel took us all on an extremely emotional roller coaster of a ride!

To see our full Traveling Sister Review, please visit Norma and Brenda's fabulous book blog at:

Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews28 followers
April 26, 2015
UPDATE: 4/26/2015 I read this book years ago --and had given it 3 stars at the time...

I came back today to give it 5 stars ---My reason for changing it --is because its very clear this book left a lasting impression on me. A message in the book is strong. It 'wasn't clear to me at the time -it is 'now'. I HIGHLY recommend this book for MOTHERS who have daughters (especially if they still have daughters living at home with them).

I have many thoughts about this book---
but the most important is this:

I would NOT tell my friends "Oh, you MUST READ this Book"....without telling them a little more about the story.....[then let them 'choose']. Its not a book for everyone--and it might depend on what is going on in a person's life.

I had a friend say to me: "You should read this book, you have daughters"! HUH?????

This book deals with a horrific tragedy---[no its not graphic]---but this is not a book I give to my friends, like "Here ya Go"....Have fun!

I read the book in a day---[in a few sittings]. I could almost see what was coming the first half of the book---[I wasn't asleep to the familiar type lifetime setup].

Its a seductive story---how can you not keep reading?
Are there messages? Sure! Did I like it? I mean---I suppose I did. Did I need to read it? I didn't.

It was well written--I didn't feel manipulated like a lifetime movie might do--but its a heavy plot--(handled with care and compassion by the author)....

but I know people who would NOT do well reading this book. They would not want to re-visit their own painful memories --which this book very might well trigger.

"Every Last One" has a few strong messages. Its a book asking to be discussed---but for people who are clear they are up for the task.
Profile Image for Margitte.
1,164 reviews511 followers
September 22, 2016

In this breathtaking and beautiful novel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions.

Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor. Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount. And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible line of hope and healing that connects one human being with another.

Ultimately, in the hands of Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing prose, 'Every Last One' is a novel about facing every last one of the the things we fear most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, to live a life we never dreamed we’d have to live but must be brave enough to try.
What seems like a normal happy life for an ordinary family of two parents and three children, turns out to be something totally different when the mother's idea of happiness is exploding in her face. She always tried to make everyone happy, but it turned out that nobody was happy. The backlash of the events following a terrible tragedy, forced her to discover the rest of the icebergs hidden from the naked eye, which everybody managed to conceal for so long. In order for her to heal, she had to understand the second personna in all her friends and family. We all have them. And we all hide it. But sometimes it simply is not possible to do so, especially when the door closes behind us and we're alone...

A compelling, thought-provoking, heartfelt read. It left me emotionally hammered, but hopeful.

Profile Image for Ruth Turner.
408 reviews113 followers
May 15, 2015

Where to start?

The writing was rambling and disjointed. I got to page 80 and then went back to the beginning to try to make sense of what I was reading. Didn't help.

The characters, all of them, were cardboard cutouts with no emotional depth. And none of them seemed to have their own voice. Often after reading a sentence I'd have to stop and think...Wait...Which one are you again?

And the story line? It moves oh sooooo slowly towards the climax of the book, and oh sooooo slowly to the finish.

A quote from Mary Beth, mother and narrator:

"Laundry is my life, and meals, and school meetings and games and recitals.

Every day, with few variations—snow, minor illness, the failure of the paper to arrive, a lost backpack, a sleepover that’s left us one, or two, or sometimes even three kids shy of the usual full set—every day is like this. Average. Ordinary."

And that's what this story was...average and ordinary.

Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,763 reviews1,218 followers
April 23, 2010
I recommend reading this book knowing very little about it. I always read the cover and inside covers first and what I learn usually whets my appetite and rarely am I disappointed to have the information. However, the inside front cover of this book revealed more than I wanted to know. Perhaps that’s just me; I don’t know.

Quindlen is a fine writer and a skillful story teller; I learned so much about these family members and those they knew incredibly rapidly.

The story is beautifully written, without a single wasted word in it. It was a pleasure to read.

This accomplished writer deserved a better proof reader/editor: I found typos, misspellings, and once a sentence is repeated.

So, get your Kleenex ready. If you have had any losses in your life, you’re likely to get emotional when you read this book.

I think that Black and Blue remains my favorite Quindlen novel, but this comes in a relatively close second. And, her non-fiction books and children's books are really worth reading too. I look forward to reading every other book she writes.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,271 reviews9 followers
March 30, 2017
3.5 stars

The book starts off with the wondrous journey of marriage and children, along with all the trials and tribulations of raising those 3 teenage children. Husband, wife, children, family, friends and neighbors all play a part in everyday life. But as Ruby, the eldest and only daughter, and Max and Alex, the twins, grow, life begins to change, as life always does. Their likes and dislikes change, their friends change, their dreams change. At this point not all their friends are happy as they are left behind with these changing dynamics. Ruby has a passive, quirky ex-boyfriend who is not happy being left behind. As time plays out everyone becomes aware that the decision to ignore this boy was the worst decision they could have made.

Another well written novel by Anna Quindlen. Her story telling is "everyday" universal, but is so quietly powerful and stunning. It is like opening the diary of a good friend and learning all the good and bad of their life.
Profile Image for Chaitra.
3,400 reviews
December 4, 2012
I've never read an Anna Quindlen book before. I'm not too sure I'll read one again. I don't want to go off on a rant, because it's very easy for me to do that with such so-called "life affirming" books. But, this novel tries to manipulate my emotions by blatant tragedy, those that I don't feel by the writing that came before that, and I don't enjoy that. I read it fast though, and for that I give it two stars.

The plot is this. Mary Beth Latham is a suburban housewife, with an ophthalmologist husband and three kids - the beautiful poetess who used to be anorexic Ruby and the twins golden boy Alex and moody but genius Max. Ruby has a boyfriend who intensely loves her, called Kiernan. She pushes him away for some boring reason, he doesn't take the hint. He stalks her, makes nice with her brother, asks MB if he can stay in their house, keens under Ruby's window, gets drunk and abuses her, sends her a photograph that he's taken with a zoom lens while stalking, keeps going into her room (in her house) to put a ring under her pillow. One fine day he stabs/strangles all of them and kills himself. He misses Alex, the good brother, because he's gone off skiing. MB lives, everyone else dies. This happens midway through the book. The rest of the book is much of the same thing, with MB trying to not deal with the tragedy, until, in the last chapter, she does. By the way, all that stalkerish creepy stuff Kiernan is doing? MB knows all along.

It isn't a good book. The first half of the book is filled with boring details about Mary Beth's perfect life with a perfect husband perfect kids with one or two off-the-page problems. But she still mopes, still takes time to drive in the car and cry (for no reason at all), she still keeps telling herself that she needs to count her blessings in a totally phony way. I didn't feel that she needed to undergo a major attitude adjustment because of her grief, because even then it was much of the same part 1 bull, with more crying and moping involved. She knows that her child is depressed, but only after several separate teachers warn her does she take the child into therapy. She knows Kiernan is lost, and he doesn't have a stable home (convenient this), she still doesn't do one single thing to help him out. And when she learns that Kiernan stalks her daughter - her daughter even tells her that she finds him creepy now - what does MB do? She says 'Oh honey, I'm sorry'. That's it. The kid stays in the room behind her garage for crying out loud! I refuse to see how a woman that mostly stays home (yeah, she has phony gardening business) and someone as keen in her children's welfare as she supposedly is, can fail to notice that.

She isn't such a great person even otherwise. She had a close friendship once with Kiernan's mother, a nutso called Deborah. It's heavily hinted from the beginning that there is some history behind why they don't talk. We learn:

Deborah: Mary Beth, you're my best friend. I'm in a hopeless condition right now because I lost my little child in a swimming pool accident. I can't take care of Kiernan just now, can you do it for a couple of days.
Mary Beth (with a patient voice): Oh honey, you know that's not such a good idea! He needs to be with you and your husband now.
Deborah (almost falling down with grief and medication for grief): Look at me, Mary Beth. Do you think I'm in any position to handle him? He says he wants to stay with you guys...
Mary Beth (still with the patient voice): You know that's not such a good idea...
If I were Deborah, Mary Beth would get a fist in her face, but she gets lucky as always. Deborah (snarling): Fair weather friend!

Soon after this, Mary Beth has an affair with Deborah's husband. And after her tragedy, guess where her son stays? With a friend. Phony, isn't it? One of her friends comes to know about her affair and calls her out on it, and she's made out to be the bad guy. Her surviving son turns into a man overnight, goes to therapy all by himself because Mary Beth is too full of herself. Even when she's going around saying "I still have a son", she doesn't actually consider the fact that the kid might need some help. Why would he, he's the golden boy right? Never any trouble! And he isn't, one drunken day is all she has to deal with - the kid has a girlfriend who is the loveliest thing ever, her dead daughter's friends hang out with her, another friend steps in to replace the one she was snooty with. She doesn't even blame anyone; not Deborah, not Kiernan, not her daughter's friends who knew all about Creepy, not her son who knew about Creepy staying in the garage. In the end, she prays that her son gets a wife who's nice, who's like herself, a good mother. It must be nice to have such certainty about oneself.

*Sigh*, I did go off on a rant after all.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,106 followers
May 8, 2013
When I read EVERY LAST ONE by Anna Quindlen I was told by a few people that something terrible was going to happen, and to stick it out in spite of the somewhat slow pace of the first half. As happy as I was to get this advice I didn't need it, because I grew to love these characters through their day to day humdrum lives. I am grateful that I didn't know what that something terrible was, so I will keep this review brief-not to give anything away.

Read this book! It is wonderful! But be warned: Have a box of kleenex handy. You will bawl like a baby...and if you don't, there may be something wrong with you.

Profile Image for Tania.
1,202 reviews271 followers
March 26, 2016
A loose end - that's what we women call it, when we are overwhelmed by the care of small children, the weight of small tasks, a life in which we fall into bed at the end of the day exhausted from being all things to all people.

I've read three of this author's books before, and absolutely loved all of them, but this was a long time ago. I'm glad to say that I loved this quiet and beautifully written book. Her writing still has the ability to hook me on the first sentence, even when she is only describing an average mom's life with her husband and three teenagers. They were described so vividly that I could see them perfectly in my mind's eye. This is the story of how this average life was changed in one moment by a shocking event, and leaves you asking yourself a lot of questions about parenting, and how well we really know our children. It also looks at grief, and how everyone deals with it in their own way. I was amazed that Mary Beth felt so little anger, and I think this is probably why the book lost a star, I just struggled to accept that this could be possible. But overall a read I would recommend to anyone who likes books about families and the things that can change them.
Profile Image for Alecia.
Author 3 books35 followers
May 30, 2019
I have enjoyed Anna Quindlen's columns in the past. I remember thinking her writing cut right to the chase, reaching the reader (or at least me). That was journalism. I know she's written several books since then, and I may have read one. But this one disappointed me. This was such a searing, intense subject matter to write about. I have read some of the reviews, and I see that some people were greatly moved by this book. In my case, I found it quite boring, and almost "cutsie" in the beginning.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone (on hiatus).
1,501 reviews201 followers
August 6, 2021
3.5 Stars


Well that was a book of two halves.

It's not a spoiler to say that something shocking and violent occurs around the midway point and that the trajectory of the characters lives changes significantly. Whilst I was at no point bored during the first section it was essentially a recount of the day to day lives of this unremarkable family. We learn about the challenges facing some of them and the dynamics between the people in their orbit. Then wham! Everything changes. At first I was glued to the pages following the incident but then the story stretched on a bit and I felt worn down by the emotions. It was still a compelling read though. This was a great exploration of grief after tragedy and I thought the characters felt authentic and relatable.

Profile Image for Kathy .
698 reviews232 followers
July 25, 2011
Compelling story! I use this phrase sparingly, as the story has to be one that completely ensconces me into its plot line and characters. Every Last One accomplishes that to perfection. Quindlen has an amazing talent for developing characters in which the reader becomes emotionally invested. I don't want to sound trite, but the characters really do come alive for the reader. Quindlen also has quite the knack for writing about an important issue that exposes it but doesn't preach or judge, a natural unfolding of tragedy, its before and after, with its impact on all revealed. Her ability to take the reader to the heart of a tragedy and all its despair is writing genius. I think this might be Anna Quindlen's best book yet.
Profile Image for Diane Chamberlain.
Author 70 books12.9k followers
April 26, 2010
Beautifully written. Not much happens in the first half, yet I was engaged from the start because Quindlen made me want to know her characters. She drew them so realistically, they felt like my neighbors which makes what happens to all of them that much more devastating. You often wonder how someone can go on living after a tragedy. Quindlen has taken on the challenge of exploring exactly that, with compassion, heart and skill.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,108 reviews2,666 followers
June 5, 2017
Mary Beth Latham lived at home with her husband Glen, eldest child Ruby and twins Max and Alex, and while life was “normal” the fact that three teenagers lived under their roof proved on a day by day basis that things were far from “normal”. Mary Beth was devoted to her family – she also ran a business as a landscape gardener, while Glen was an eye specialist.

Ruby was preparing for the prom in the way all teenage girls do – drama queen and dramatics on a daily basis. After the prom she was heading off to summer school, while the boys went to summer camp. Mary Beth had been a little concerned about Max – quiet, not saying much – her thoughts of depression hovered. But when Max had to return home early from summer camp because of an accident, things went downhill.

As time moved forward, it was Halloween where Mary Beth and Glen had a huge party – everyone came; friends, family, the kids’ friends – the usual fun and boisterous rowdiness was invading the house. Then it was Christmas and New Year… time continued to go by. But it was a particularly violent event which changed lives forever…

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen is an absolutely gut-wrenching, emotional ride to the very last page. A family life; Mum, Dad and three kids – normal, everyday “stuff”… The author has created a scenario which is hard to imagine, and at times hard to read. But I thoroughly enjoyed Every Last One and am impressed by the author’s skills. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jenny.
1,673 reviews57 followers
September 29, 2017
Every Last One is about Mary Beth and Glen Lathan and their children. Mary Beth Lathan thought she was living a normal life with her husband Glen and their three children Ruby, Alex and Max. However, this was not the case. Mary Beth Lathan life was turned upside down when an ex-neighbour son came back to town. The readers of Every Last One will continue to follow to see what happens to Mary Beth Lathan and her family.

Every Last One is the first book I have read by Anna Quindlen. I did enjoy reading Every Last One. However, I did cry while reading Every Last One. I love the way Anna Quindlen describes the plot and her portrayal of the characters of Every Last One. Anna Quindlen did an excellent job in engaging the readers of Every Last One by allowing the readers to follow the story through the eyes of the mother. I also like Anna Quindlen writing style.

Readers of Every Last One will learn about undiagnosed mental illness and the consequences for everyone. Also, the readers of Every Last One will found out the consequences of not communicating with others during the grieving proceed.

I recommend this book.
Profile Image for Tiffany .
445 reviews11 followers
February 7, 2017
This is a heartbreaking gut wrenching tale of what happens when you're the survivor of a horrific tragic event. Mary Beth, mother of 3 is living life as a normal wife and mother when her whole world is turned upside down. Can she cope? This novel is beautifully written and brought tears to my eyes.
Profile Image for Laurel.
400 reviews181 followers
February 7, 2011
This was my first Quindlen book. I became curious about her after reading her high praise of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (another book I didn't particularly enjoy). It's sort of funny because I felt these two books were quite similar in tone and even (partly) in subject matter.

Every Last One is hard to describe without giving too much away, but it deals quite intensely with issues of death, tragedy, depression and grief. In that sense, it's not what I would call an enjoyable read. Some of it is quite difficult to get through, in fact. However, most of the characters felt authentic to me, the writing was decent, and I was easily (if not reluctantly) pulled into their story and all their various dysfunctional relationships. I even found myself moved by the book's final words, perhaps in part because of my own situation.

Still, I wouldn't actually recommend this book. I found it a bit too disturbing and bleak. I wasn't sure I fully believed in the plausibility of the focal, tragic event for reasons I won't detail here so as to not reveal any major spoilers. I think I just found it all a little too horrific -- was it really necessary to take it that far? I also couldn't quite relate to the mother, nor to her initial reactions.

I do wonder if someone who is grieving, or who has gone through what feels like an unspeakable or incomprehensible tragedy, might (?) find some solace with the book's final message. What can you do when faced with the unimaginable? You can only try to go on as best you can, and get through it all one small moment at a time.

Still, I would have preferred this message be told with a bit more subtlety. 2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 2 books153 followers
July 31, 2011
Just before one of my favorite indie bookstores closed its doors for good, I went on a book-buying spree. This was one of the books I got, picked without even reading the back cover, simply because I've liked much of Quindlen's works. Once I started reading, I almost put it down; I could see horrific disaster looming. I just wasn't sure how I'd handle that type of personal tragedy, even though it's been almost 2 years since my family's fatal night. But I, too, have a survivor in my life, and she faces life with such courage and humor, that I owe it to her not to be stuck in the past. And I owe it to myself, and to my departed brother, not to make him a martyr or give that awful day more power. So, I pushed on.

Quindlen takes subjects that wrench a sane person's mind, and presents them in a way that they become thoughtful vehicles for growth, and for those who have been a victim of devastating personal events, a vehicle for healing. The character study is delicate and beautiful, completely realistic. There were a number of lines, particularly in the last third of the book, that resonated in my own soul, discoveries I have made and descriptions of emotions/patterns of healing. The story was compelling; even knowing something bad was coming, I wanted to read more, not in the sense of seeing a horror movie, or staring at an accident at the side of the road, but because Quindlen drew me in. And when I say "bad things happen", it's with reservations, because I don't want to give too much of the story away. Also, don't let that deter you thinking it will be gruesome. There's a delicacy in the telling of this story that not only helps characters get through, but carries the reader along, too.

People ask me how I am, and while I'll never be the same, none of us ever are. We move ahead; we learn to face each day, and if we're lucky, we clutch onto hope or faith or whatever gets us through. And we keep our memories and our loved ones alive in our hearts, and live the future with caring, courage, laughter and love.
Profile Image for Marcia.
865 reviews4 followers
April 19, 2010
The first half of Every Last One by Anna Quindlen is best described with the adjective quotidian. Mary Beth Latham and her family (husband, Glen; daughter, Ruby; twin sons, Alex and Max) go through the daily routine so familiar to anyone who has had kids in middle school and high school and who remembers (fondly or not) the soccer games and practices, the having to be at opposite ends of the town at the exact same time, the crises of young love, etc. And so, the first half of Every Last One lulled me into this family's life, enjoying the conversations between Mary Beth and Glen as they handled the ups and downs. Then, suddently, I am post-quotidian and launched into the unfamiliar needs of healing and rebuilding hope and love.

This was a one-day read for me. I was completely drawn in to the Latham family and sat rivited, tissues in hand, while seeing how everything came out on the other side.

Full comments available at http://www.owlsfeathers.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Diane.
2,030 reviews5 followers
June 12, 2010
A few friends had mentioned that they thought Every Last One: A Novel was an excellent, so I decided to give it a try. I wish I had passed; here's why:

It's a story about a mother, Mary Beth Latham, who is totally devoted to her (3) teenage children. Even her husband Glen, an Opthamologist, feels she is to involved in the daily lives of twins Alex and Max, polar opposites. Alex excels in sports and is very outgoing, and Max is quiet and obviously depressed. Daughter Ruby. has suffered an eating disorder, and has just broken up with her boyfriend.

The first half of the book is ALL about the kids and their every activity.....incredibly boring. Then on New Year's Eve something horrible happens, and those left, must sort out
and try to understand WHY it happened, and how to continue with life as it is now.

I don't want to sound cold-hearted but I am sure I will. As you read or listen to the audio book (I did both), you know early on that something bad is going to happen in this novel, but it was not what I expected, and more likely than not other readers will have guessed wrong as well. Some reviewers said, "get out the tissues", and I couldn't understand that. I just never really felt any emotion reading this book, probably because I did not care for Mary Beth, the protagonist. On top of that, the first half leads up to the incident, and the last half is spent dealing with the incident. If I had it to do over, I would have not read this book.

BTW: I would avoid the audio book completely. The reader, Hope Davis, has this monotone affect; it was the same depressing tone, both before the horrible event and after. Fortunately, I had the print version as well, so I could switch off when her voice became too annoying. Sorry readers I CANNOT recommend this book.
Profile Image for Jennifer Masterson.
200 reviews1,136 followers
May 27, 2014
This book was extremely disturbing and sad (not in a Stephen King sort of a way). I actually had to take a break from it for a couple of days because of what happens in the middle of the book. It's not for everyone so be forewarned. I will not give anything away but it deals with love and loss. It's brutal.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,305 reviews1,235 followers
August 31, 2017
I got this from the library and have really tried to get into it but just found it really dull and boring. By 45% nothing was really happening and the characters and plot fell flat for me (what plot?). I know a big tragedy happens halfway through this and perhaps it gets better but it was so incredibly slow I lost interest even knowing what it was sadly.

I tried and persisted and skimmed some pages but eventually gave up on this one. The writing style is good but it had no substance in my opinion. Maybe I've missed a totally mind blowing ending? Not sure but I doubt it. Taking it back to the library and glad I didn't buy this. Too many great books out there to waste time on dull ones.
November 9, 2018
3.5 stars

Every Last One is a poignant first-person account of the ordinary family life of the Latham’s being devastated by a brutal act of violence and despite its horrific subject matter makes for a surprisingly heartwarming read full of subtle observations, painful truths and an exploration of family dynamics. The novel comprises two very distinctive halves, with the first being a slow-moving tale full of the humdrum events that are all part of family life, from soccer practice to a mother’s concerns regarding the wellbeing of their offspring. Astute and articulate, in contrast to many readers it was the meandering portrait of family life in all its mundanity that I found so enjoyable and thought-provoking. The obvious mental instability of one character and clear signs of their deterioration evokes a genuine edgy tension, albeit with the knowledge from the off that something sinister is to come. The second half of the story sees mother, Mary Beth, reflecting on the things she would have done differently if only she had known what was coming and recognising what she failed to see at the time. Alongside this examination is the struggle of those that survive to emerge from the horror, find succour in their cherished memories, move on from their regrets and once again find meaning in their lives and a desire to go on.

Anna Quindlen is an author I have been keen to read and I was not disappointed, with her prose and descriptive insights as eloquent as it comes and her characters all well-developed. Despite feeling the second half of the novel was a little drawn-out, Quindlen never falls back on schmaltzy sentimentality as she looks for reasons to survive the heartbreak. An inspirational and memorable read.
Profile Image for Heather.
107 reviews7 followers
August 3, 2010
I liked it. I was prepared not to. I was prepared to pick it apart and be disappointed (as I have with many Jodi Picoult books). In the first half of the book, I kept wondering what would happen. I mean, here I was reading about my dream life--the fantasy I've always had: the colonial or farmhouse in New England with the big trees; the kids coming and going; me relaxed but doing something other than just being a mom; the sense of security; etc... I mean, obviously I KNEW something had to happen. I had a few hypothoses: maybe something would happen to Ruby or Alex, or one of the kids would end up killing someone, getting pregnant, what have you. But I did know as soon as MB looks up and sees who she thinks is Max in the hallway that it was Kiernan. And I knew that we'd somehow find out the story between here and Deborah, but I didn't imagine it would mean that Kiernan became the ultimate "problem." I think those are going to be the only clues you see: that Deborah won't look at her, that she blamed her when she wouldn't take Kiernan for a while after Declan died, that Keirnan was too emtional of a child...

I thought the book was really well written and constructed. In the first half of the story you're kind of lulled into this sens of security, thinking that whatever might happen will end up being okay... and then bam! just like the situation, the reader is suddenly hit with this realization that nothing will be what you thought it would... Oh, and crazy about the definition of abstracted. Never knew that before. But why not use the more familiar term when it means the same thing? And why use it over and over so many times? Anyway, I thought there was another strange usage of a word, but I can't recall it now.

I also thought a lot about the whole Deborah, Kiernan, Kevin thing and the short-lived affair. I wanted to hate that and believe it was too over the top, but instead I found it kind of poignant and tragic. I wished that they had faced each other (Deborah and Mary Beth) and had it out so much earlier in their lives. I was MB had told Glen about the affair and that they had worked past it. In the end I think that Deborah's character offered a sketch of what MB could have become, but ultimately chose not to.

One of my favorite quotes in the book is on pages 213 and 214 when Ruby is telling Mary Beth about the butterfly affect and she says:
"That's kind of terrifying," I replied. But even as I spoke I realized that that was what we had all believed from the moment we had childfren. The breast-fed baby became the confident adult. The toddler who listened to a bedtime story went on to a doctorate. We flapped our wings in our kitchens, and a wind blew through their futures."

I just love that. When my oldest was a baby I had this overwhelming experience where I was just completely aware of the fact that I was not the true owner or creator of this child, but more of a guardian. I had the thought that I was his earthly "babysitter" if you will. That he was his own person and would make his own decisions and I was just here to try to guide him as best I knew how. I think about that a lot when I get feeling overwhelmed by all the possibilities facing kids out there, all the things that can pull them in the wrong directions--addictions, trying to be adults before they are done being children, uncertainty, yada, yada, yada...

Anyway, back to the book. Another really vivid part to me is towards the end where Mary Beth is taking the back road to Olivia's and the storm has come through and knocked down a lot of trees and she says, "I think I can see a large nest on the ground beside one of them. What a waste that would be, to build a home stick by stick, to line it with moss and lay some eggs and then watch as the whole thing fell from the sky, to become nothing but a mess of shards and twigs on the shoulder of the road." What I loved about that is that Anna Quindlen is making an obvious analogy there. I was thinking that's what happened to Mary Beth herself (but now as I read it again I also see Deborah). I just loved that the reader so obviously understands, but that Mary Beth was so wrapped up in her grief that the irony is completely lost of her.

And my favorite thing of all was how the book ended:
"This is my life. I am trying."

What more can anyone ask? That's all I want to be able to say about my own life, that I am trying. Sometimes I want to give up completely and sometimes I am so focused on what I didn't get, what I don't have, what could have been, that I don't work on the trying. But that's all I can do and reading this really made me want to just get up and say this is my life. I am trying. So simple. So profound.

I read this because I happened to see some little blurb in a magazine about it. I think all it said was "a good read" or something equally simple. But I really really liked it. Have you ever seen the movie Raising Arizona? Totally silly, but in the end Nicholas Cage has this vision of a big family all seated around the table... and that's kind of what Mary Beth sees towards the end of the book. That even though she lost so much, if she can be there for Alex, they can both have a future, even WITH the ghosts of Ruby, Max, and Glen there. I liked that their ghosts were there supporting them, giving them someone to confide in and talk to... And I loved that they both went to that session with the shrink together and finally started to communicate better. I just loved that this book was about something so horrifyingly tragic, but what I felt most of all in the end was hope.

That's about all I can think of right now. I kept thinking I'd stop and put the book down, but as soon as I got to New Year's Eve, I had to finish!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Andrea.
712 reviews107 followers
February 2, 2019
Four things (and NO spoilers)

1. I did not read any reviews or plot summaries prior to cracking this open. One does not need convincing reviews when it comes to Anna Quindlin. Anna speaks for herself. And I am certain that this is the ideal way to approach this novel.

2. I was enchanted with the precise reality of how Quindlin captures families. I read aloud passages to my daughter (who so resembles Ruby in this story), and she just rolled her young eleven-year-old eyes, not really appreciating the truth & brilliance in the words.

3. The novel gently moves along until abruptly it’s no longer gentle. I was a mess from that point forward, in horrific disbelief. Oh my heart.

4. My first 5-Star read of the year...so well deserved!
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
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