Book Review: All We Ever Wanted

Title: All We Ever Wanted
Author: Emily Giffin
Publisher: Random House – Ballantine Books
Genre(s): Womens Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: June 26th, 2018
Pages: 400
Buy This Book: Amazon/Audible

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Book Blurb:

In the riveting new novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of First Comes Love and Something Borrowed, three very different people must choose between their family and their values.

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

My Thoughts:

This was my first book by Emily Giffin, but it certainly won’t be my last! All We Every Wanted was an enjoyable, but compelling and thought provoking read.

The story is told from 3 different view points:

NINA
Nina Browning was raised a small-town girl in a comfortably middle class family, but she is now married to Kirk, a man who came from old money and then made a fortune selling his software company. Together they have a 17-year-old son named Finch, who has just been accepted into Princeton and has a promising future ahead of him. But Nina sometimes wonders whether it is really possible to maintain moral integrity while living a life of wealth and privilege.

TOM
On the “other side of the tracks”, Tom Volpe is a single dad to 15-year-old Lyla. He owns a carpentry business, but sometimes relies on side jobs like driving for Uber in order to make ends meet. Lyla’s free spirited and party-loving mother ended up an alcoholic and left when Lyla was just 2. Ever since, Tom has been determined to make sure Lyla grows up surrounded by positive influences so she doesn’t follow in her mother’s footsteps. He is very strict about her curfew and often worries about who she hangs around with.

LYLA
The last view point in this story is Lyla Volpe’s. She is a sophomore at Windsor Academy, a prestigious prep school, but while the other students have rich parents to pay the expensive tuition fees out of pocket, Lyla received a scholarship. Like most teenagers, Lyla just wants to fit in, but her financial status and overprotective father sometimes make that difficult. And sometimes fitting in means breaking the rules – sneaking around, drinking, smoking weed, and having sex.

Then one drunk Snapchat changes everything and these two families are thrown together in a way they never would have imagined.

All We Ever Wanted is a well-written and very timely read, addressing a lot of relevant issues—affluent lifestyles and the privilege of wealth, social elitism, moral integrity, racism, sexual harassment/assault, the struggles of modern parenting, and the detrimental effects of social media. I’ll admit, I went into this expecting to find some two-dimensional cliches, but instead, the characters are all well-fleshed out with unique voices and multi-layered personalities. In fact, everything about this book is incredibly realistic and it packs a powerful and necessary message.

I did take off one star for the ending, which felt rushed and slightly under-developed. But overall, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I look forward to reading some more of Emily Giffin’s books.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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Thank you to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

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