From the book jacket:
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 teenage 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.
If I could describe this book in one word, it would have to be “relevant.” All We Ever Wanted covers so much of what’s going on in the world today politically, from the most recent US presidential election to the #metoo movement. I think this may be one of the most thought-provoking books that Emily Giffin has ever put out, and I honestly loved it.
The main characters of the book, Tom, Lyla, and Nina are all likeable and relatable on some level, even if you don’t fit their social status. While she was fortunate to marry a successful businessman, Nina seems genuinely down-to-earth and caring, especially after what accusations were made against her son. She doesn’t use her financial status to try and buy forgiveness, and without trying to spoil the book for anyone, I’m certain that she wants her son to be punished accordingly based on her own past experiences.
Nina is your typical teenaged girl no matter where you live; she wants to be cool, wants the popular boy to like her, wants to be accepted. It’s all something that every girl has experienced growing up in some shape or form. Even what something awful happens to her, she fears for her reputation more than anything and would rather ignore the fact that something is wrong than be labeled as “that girl” at school.
I think the main reason why I loved this book so much is because it covered such an important topic in today’s society in such a literary way. Personally, it really made me think, is enough really being done to prevent sexual misconduct or abuse? Are we really in a world where we have to teach our children what’s right and wrong when it comes to this? Should we not, as moral human beings, know the difference instinctually?
All We Ever Wanted really expresses how abuse has no societal boundaries and how the way that it dealt with depends on the haves and have-nots.
There is so much more that could be said about the topic of the book alone, but instead of getting into that I’m just going to say that it is definitely worth reading. There isn’t one single thing about the book that I didn’t like; I didn’t want to stop reading because I was so drawn to the storyline. It’s most definitely worth 5 stars out of 5. Thank you, Emily, for penning this!