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Review: Everything We Ever Wanted

December 6, 2011

Sylvie Bates-McAllister and her late husband, James, were always involved in Swithin, the private school founded by her grandfather.  As a matter of fact, when their adopted son, Scott, seemed to be floundering they got him a job there as the wrestling coach.  When a member of the wrestling team commits suicide, and hazing by the team is the suspected cause, Scott’s role in the incidence is called into question.  The crisis has everyone, including Sylvie’s biological son and daughter-in-law, questioning their role in the family and looking into the past.

The plot of Everything We Ever Wanted, by Sara Shepard, is full of twists and turns and other complications, but it wasn’t really hard to follow once I got the characters straight in my head.  In the end I think I enjoyed the characters more than the plot, which is unusual for me.  It seems that they all had some problems – some from issues in their childhood, but quite often because of a failure to communicate and a willingness to brush things under the rug.  On the surface, the Bates-McAllisters appeared so perfect Sylvie’s daughter-in-law set out to become a part of it, only to discover that just beneath the surface there is lots of tension and hostility because of issues that were never addressed in the past.

The plot was interesting and kept my attention, but didn’t wow me.  In fact, I was somewhat disappointed in the ending.  For me, it was a little bit of a let down after a big build up.  I did find it ironic and rather timely that things came to a head because of a cover up at the school.  It was almost tragic because so much of the trauma could have been prevented with a little communication.

I listened to the audio version of Everything We Ever Wanted – it’s narrated by Colleen Marlo and lasts about 9 hours and 45 minutes.  I thought Marlo did a good job with the narration, even though a few of her male voices were a little strange.  Overall, this was a pretty good, but not great, book for me.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
34 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 5:24 am

    I’m sorry to hear that this one didn’t wow you. I did recieve it as well and have to say I felt the same way about the jacket copy so didn’t feel compelled to add it to my “must reads” pile. Based on your comments I’m even more glad I made that decision.

  2. December 6, 2011 5:56 am

    Given your review it might be one I’d read but not listen to. Kind of disappointing to be let down by the ending.

  3. December 6, 2011 6:07 am

    Oh gosh, my first thought was about the events happening in my area (PSU). I think I’ve had enough from what I see in the papers every day.

  4. December 6, 2011 6:29 am

    I have the eBook on this one but it hasn’t called my name yet. I am enjoying a leisurely pace with Stephen King’s new book, 11/22/63 – it’s fantastic (and not scary).

    Thanks for sharing you thoughts Kathy.

  5. December 6, 2011 7:11 am

    I’m still trying to figure myself out on plot versus character. A couple of books have given me pause…Emily, Alone by Stewart O’Nan and Maine by Courtney Sullivan. Both with very little plot and alot of character. And I didn’t love either. I am not sure I LIKE that about me, but I have to be careful when books are skewed that way.

  6. December 6, 2011 7:53 am

    Sorry to hear that you felt disappointed in the end :/ That is just such a bad feeling to have after reading a book

  7. December 6, 2011 7:58 am

    Sorry you did not like the ending, Don’t you hate that when you keep reading, or hearing since it was audio. The climax, just didn’t do anything for you. I just went through the same thing. I actually went through this, expecting the author to come to my book club. What a dissappointment. I am glad I read the book first. Sorry about bringing myself in to this.

    But I can relate. Sorry,hopefully next time it will work for you.
    Happy Holidays Kathy!!!

  8. December 6, 2011 8:34 am

    I get so frustrated when communications are the problem! I always feel like shaking the characters!

  9. kaye permalink
    December 6, 2011 9:02 am

    Sorry this one let you down. It’s almost frustrating along with disappointing when the build up is big and the ending is merely a “meh”.

  10. December 6, 2011 9:07 am

    I enjoyed this one. I actually wish the author would have explored Joanna more. I wanted to understand what happened to Joanna and Charles after the novel ended.

    Here’s my review, if you are interested in reading it:

  11. December 6, 2011 9:58 am

    The deep characterization might be something I would enjoy, even if the plot leaves a little to be desired. I might try to check this one out, though I will probably not go with the audio version. Great review on this one today!

  12. December 6, 2011 12:12 pm

    It’s crazy but so true how one little thing like some lack of communication can cause so many issues! I heard this one was a good one to read for the characters. I might still check it out even though it’s not necessarily a wow book.

  13. December 6, 2011 12:25 pm

    Thanks for your honest and concise review, Kathy!

  14. December 6, 2011 12:41 pm

    A disappointing ending is a real let down, sorry to hear.

  15. December 6, 2011 12:51 pm

    sorry this didn’t work for you. better luck next time, right?

  16. December 6, 2011 12:55 pm

    I really enjoy Sara Shepard’s writing so this is one I’ll likely give a try to eventually. Sorry it wasn’t the best for you.

  17. December 6, 2011 1:31 pm

    It sounds like real life pushed right into this book with all the communications problems. I share your frustration when people don’t communicate. But I also understand that people are afraid of opening up. They’ve been shot down in the past. Good review Kathy.

  18. December 6, 2011 2:06 pm

    I like enjoying characters even if the plot is a downer. I’m glad you enjoyed this for the most part.

  19. December 6, 2011 2:06 pm

    I got this one from Net Galley but haven’t started it yet. I need to because I’ve had it for awhile now.

  20. December 6, 2011 2:06 pm

    This is a story many could relate to right now..cover up at a school. It’s too bad it was just an okay read for you. I do hate when an ending disappoints. It spoils the whole read.

  21. December 6, 2011 2:43 pm

    It has all of the aspects of books I love…I wonder sometimes…does listening to a book detract from its pleasure?

  22. December 6, 2011 3:40 pm

    I have this book as well. I pick it up, read the blurb, and put it back down. It doesn’t draw me to it, so in a way, I’m happy that I haven’t tried to tackle it and suffered disappointment.

  23. December 6, 2011 7:19 pm

    I am about half way through this book. I kind of forgot I was listening to it!

  24. December 6, 2011 8:53 pm

    Thanks for the balanced and honest review!

  25. December 6, 2011 10:01 pm

    When I read the first few sentences I thought this might be non-fiction (but your use of “characters” and “plot” set me straight!). It’s bringing to mind the Anita Shreve novel about a cover-up at a private school (and lack of communication, etc.), TESTIMONY … did you read that novel?

    Thanks for your review, Kathy. I hope the next book you listen to is a better fit for you.

  26. Angie S. permalink
    December 7, 2011 7:30 am

    I agree Kathy, it didn’t wow me either. I didn’t really feel emotionally attached to any of the characters, but it would have been interesting to find out how Charles and Joanna move on.

  27. December 7, 2011 9:42 am

    You may recall that I had similar thoughts about this one. It was ok, but something just didn’t connect with me.

  28. December 7, 2011 10:40 am

    I love your honest review. I think there is nothing more disappointing then a book with an ending that just doesn’t get you there after a big build-up.

  29. December 7, 2011 7:42 pm

    Great review (as always!) it still kind of intrigues me – I like dysfunctional family stories!

  30. December 8, 2011 12:25 pm

    I think I’ll pass on this one. Sounds like you felt the same way about this book as I did about Shepard’s The Visibles. The characters were interesting but the plot was just ho-hum.

  31. December 8, 2011 8:04 pm

    I have this one from netGalley…I’ve read one of her books from Pretty Little Liars so I’m looking forward to what I will think about this one.

  32. December 8, 2011 11:52 pm

    It looks interesting and the fact that you loved the characters makes me think this might work for me. And I’m a sucker for that cover!

  33. December 9, 2011 11:57 am

    This one surprised me. I expected it to be mediocre but I was really drawn in by the characters and their issues.

  34. December 10, 2011 9:26 am

    I am a character-loving reader so this one really worked for me. Sorry to hear you didn’t feel as smitten with it!

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