What I’m Reading: All We Ever Wanted

0385689705From 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.

My review:
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!

 

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What I’m Reading: The End of Men

32319738From the bookjacket:
Isabel, Anna, Beth, and Maggie are women who aren’t afraid to take it all. Whether spearheading a pregnancy lingerie company, conspiring to return a husband to his ex-wife, lusting after an old lover while in a satisfying marriage, or trying to balance motherhood and work—they are sexy, determined, and not looking for a simple happily ever after. Through punchy, hilarious, and insightful storytelling, The End of Men shatters the confines of society, and more importantly, those we impose upon ourselves. 

My review:
It took me so long to finish reading this book that I honestly don’t even remember when I started it. I even thought about abandoning it on more than one occasion because the story line just was NOT picking up like I thought it would. Alas, I persevered thinking it would get better, but sadly it did not.

Anyway, the book sounded promising from the description, so I took advantage of the free download onto my Kobo thinking it would be a fun, light read after the heaviness of Into the Water. As it turned out, the storylines were rather anti-climatic and it seemed like a lot of them hit dead ends. I mean, the character who’s “conspiring to return a husband to his ex-wife” doesn’t actually conspire anything until the last 15% of the book. And the huge “riot” at the beginning? You’d think more emphasis would be made of that throughout the story but not so much. Highlighter guy … meh.

It almost seemed as though Rinaldi had 100 ideas floating around in her head for the storyline but couldn’t pick just one or two, so she jammed as many as her publisher would allow in.

In a nutshell? I’m glad I didn’t cough up the dough for this book and am giving it 2 stars out of 5 based solely on the fact that I didn’t completely abandon it.

 

What I’m Reading: Into the Water

From the bookjacket:
In the last days before her death, Nel called her sister. Jules didn’t pick up the phone, ignoring her plea for help.

Now Nel is dead. They say she jumped. And Jules has been dragged back to the one place she hoped she had escaped for good, to care for the teenage girl her sister left behind.

But Jules is afraid. So afraid. Of her long-buried memories, of the old Mill House, of knowing that Nel would never have jumped.

And most of all she’s afraid of the water, and the place they call the Drowning Pool …

My review:
This book had been on my “to-read” list for a while when I was lucky enough to receive it as a gift for Christmas! I was excited to jump into it as I heard a lot of great things about it and really loved Hawkins’ previous hit, The Girl on the Trainso my hopes were high for Into the Water.

While it was slightly predicable and somethings didn’t surprise me, I still quiet enjoyed reading this book and couldn’t put it down. I found myself drawn to the storyline, desperately wanting to know what exactly happened and what was going to happen to the characters in the book – even though there was a lot of them.

I wasn’t so keen on was the pure volume of characters and I found myself flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to remind myself of who was narrating. A few of the character’s storylines I found to be unnecessary, like Josh and Nickie, and they probably could have been omitted or absorbed into another storyline with ease and to save confusion. There were characters whose storylines I preferred to read over others as well; I felt that Lena and Jules’ characters were more interesting and developed than the rest, rightfully so really since the main subject of the story involves their mother/sister. I couldn’t help but want to know more about either of them.

I’m going to give Into the Water 4 stars out of 5. I’m not sure if it’s better than The Girl on the Train, but it wasn’t worse. I enjoyed more of the characters and if there was such thing  it would get another .25 stars. (Although this is my blog and I suppose I can install such a rating system if I please.) #winkyface

Have you read either of Hawkins’ books? Which did you prefer?