I have been hooked on Emily Giffin’s books since I read her debut novel Something Borrowed. For me, that novel established Giffin as one of the most real and relevant writers out there. Her characters and the situations they find themselves in are contemporary and relatable. The questions Giffin’s characters must ask themselves create journeys that are just so real. Giffins characters are people I know – friends, family, and even myself. Her books always make me stop and reflect. So of course I had high hopes for All We Ever Wanted, and of course, Giffin didn’t disappoint.
Kirk and Nina Browning are typical wealthy country-clubbers. Well, Kirk and their spoiled son, Finch are. Nina, on the other hand, has settled into her privileged lifestyle but hasn’t quite forgotten where she came from, a far cry from country clubs and designer clothes. Kirk, however, comes from money and has learned that he can use it to buy his way out of just about any unpleasant situation. This is what he’s taught his son, Finch, who at the beginning of the book finds himself in a very dangerous, offensive situation.
Tom Volpe and his teenage daughter, Lyla, don’t exactly live on the wrong side of the tracks, but they aren’t country club members either. Lyla attends the same exclusive private school as Finch on a scholarship. The two end up at the same party one night where a combination of booze and cell phones sends both their worlds and families spiraling into chaos.
Nina quickly finds herself torn between loyalty to her family and what she knows is the right thing to do. She is also haunted by a dark moment of her own past. As the lives of the rich and the not-so-rich collide in a ripped-from-the-headlines scandal, secrets are revealed, lies are told, and reputations are shattered.
I was hooked on All We Ever Wanted after the first chapter. I couldn’t put it down. The first chapter is from Nina’s point of view and the rest of the book alternates the points of view of Nina and other important players in the book. There were a lot of surprises in this book, and I mean bombshells that left me shocked and turning the pages. I couldn’t wait to keep reading to get to the bottom of things.
I love the awareness this book brings to contemporary issues including sexual assault, mental health, and the way different social classes are viewed and treated.
I found the end of the book to be very well-written. Giffin didn’t stray from her realness and delivered a realistic ending based on the world the Brownings and Volpes lived in. I loved the message of this book. Bad things happen. Bad choices are made. But life goes on, and strong people go on with it.
I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.