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: First Comes Love

26192467From Goodreads.com:
In this dazzling new novel, Emily Giffin, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Something Borrowed, Where We Belong, and The One & Only introduces a pair of sisters who find themselves at a crossroads.
 
Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing; Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes their family, their different responses to the event splinter their delicate bond.
 
Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter ends up in her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.
 
On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately, Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired.
 
As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them, but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover they need each other more than they knew . . . and that in the recipe for true happiness, love always comes first.
 
Emotionally honest and utterly enthralling, First Comes Love is a story about family, friendship, and the courage to follow your own heart—wherever that may lead.

My review:
I was beyond excited when I first learned that Emily Giffin was penning a new novel, so the day that it was released I snatched up my copy from the local bookstore. Of course, I was in the middle of reading a different book, so it took me longer than desired to start reading it.

Once I did get to it though, I had mixed feelings. While I wasn’t head over heels in love with the characters (Meredith and Josie are both blind to their own shallow behaviour and put the blame on one another too much), I did enjoy the story itself. Too often in life do you hear about people choosing  what they think is right for everyone, not just themselves, and it’s easy to forget that you need to do what’s best for you and your own happiness.

CAUTION, THERE BE SPOILERS BELOW …

I didn’t think Josie’s decision to venture into motherhood via donor was selfish – being a single parent scares the ever-loving bejesus out of me. There are so many wrongs ways go go about having a child, and she chose her method wisely.

(However, I would’ve perhaps liked to have seen more romance for Josie instead of awkward friendship dates with her donor.)

And Meredith … I just don’t know. I don’t think she stood up for herself enough, but I suppose that was the theme of the book. She wasn’t honest with herself and paid the price when it came to her marriage. I think the only thing she was really honest about was not wanting to have another child, and it frustrated me that her husband was upset about that. (I could write an entire post on that topic though, so I won’t get into here.)

But again, I did like the story itself. When something tragic happens, it’s really hard to find closure and it’s hard to realize that not everyone grieves the same. For some, it may take only a few weeks, or like in the case of Meredith and Josie, it may take someone years to wrap their heads around what happens and to come to terms with it. I cannot fault the characters for that whatsoever.

Overall, I’m giving First Comes Love 4 stars out of 5. There could have been a few more layers to the characters, but it was still enjoyable.

 

 

What I’m Reading: The One and Only

What I'm Reading

From Goodreads:
Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.

But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

Thoughtful, funny, and brilliantly observed, The One & Only is a luminous novel about finding your passion, following your heart, and, most of all, believing in something bigger than yourself . . . the one and only thing that truly makes life worth living.

My review:
The One and Only is definitely different from Emily Giffin’s other works, and so I had a hard time adjusting to it. Not that it was a bad book; I really enjoyed the main storyline and Shea’s battle to figure out what – and who – she really wants in life. What I didn’t like, and it totally doesn’t take away from how good the book is, was the football lingo and talk. I’m not a football fan in the very least, so a lot of the dialogue in that regard bored me a little.

But still, I found myself not able to put the book down and read it all within a week. (Not bad when you have a toddler!) I couldn’t wait to learn which path Shea decided to take, though it was a little obvious to me which one she would ultimately end up on in the end.

So, in the end, did I LOVE love this book? Well sadly, not really. But did I enjoy reading it? Of course! Overall, I give it 4 stars out of 5. I just couldn’t relate to all the football talk, especially at the college level, but it was still a good story.