Brad's Reviews > All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown
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it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction

Let's get this out of the way, my friend Janelle Brown writes really unlikeable characters, I'm told. Of course, I didn't know this until she told me in 2018 that critics of her work have said that about her characters.

I have found her characters (as I'm clearly writing this review long after having read all of her novels)...wildly human, full of flaws and nuance, and haunted by the very kinds of tragic flaws that sink our ships on a daily basis.

What she does is give voice to a very specific time and place in our world. We both cut our teeth covering Silicon Valley during the Dotcom boom. (She more critically than me!) And so as I read All We Ever Wanted Was Everything I couldn't help but click through the characters that we'd come across during those insane years in the Valley.

Yes, the Millers are the absolute prototypical nouveau riche family where the father has abandoned any emotional connection to his family in pursuit of wealth and success, the mother turns a blind eye to that believing her husband is acting in the family's best interest, and the kids are—as you would expect—disasters.

Look, these characters aren't the people you're going to want to have over for dinner. And that's the point. The pursuit of Everything leads if not to destruction than it at least to breaking. Every person in the Miller family is looking for Everything because they've bough into the mythology of the Valley.

Maybe the premise was too time and place for some folks. Maybe you had to have lived through the Valley's meteoric rise, it's transformation of society, and then it's start-up collapse (version 1.0) to really see the characters are something more than archetypes. I don't know. I can't answer that for other readers.

What I can say is this: The Great Gatsby took on Long Island and New York City. Janelle took on Silicon Valley.

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
December 21, 2018 – Finished Reading
December 22, 2018 – Shelved
December 22, 2018 – Shelved as: fiction

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