Title: Everything We Ever Wanted
Author: Sara Shepard
Reading level: Adult
Size: 352 pages
Release Date: October 11th 2011
Publisher: William Morrow/HarperCollins
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | BN | The Book Depository
A recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son Scott teaches. Allegations of Scott’s involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos. For Charles, Sylvie’s biological son, it dredges up a ghost from the past who is suddenly painfully present. For his wife Joanna, it forces her to reevaluate everything she’s hoped for in the golden Bates-McAllisters. And for Scott, it illuminates harsh truths about a world he has never truly felt himself a part of.
But for all the Bates-McAllisters, the call exposes a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together: the mystery of the school hazing, the event that tore Charles and Scott apart the night of their high school awards ceremony, and the intended recipient of a certain bracelet. The quest to unravel the truth takes the family on individual journeys across state lines, into hospitals, through the Pennsylvania woods, and face-to-face with the long-dormant question: what if the life you always planned for and dreamed of isn’t what you want after all.
This is the very complicated story of an incredibly influential and wealthy yet troubled dysfunctional family as it deals with an accusation against one of it’s own. We jump back and forth between the perspectives of Sylvia, Joanna and Charles as they examine their lives and the current situation through the prisms that make up each of their personal experiences. Sadly, the one character I wanted to know better, Scott, was not one of the main characters.
I had a hard time with this one…the pacing seemed awfully slow and to be honest I had a very hard time relating to any of the characters. I also hate stories that seem to stand entirely on the basis that none of the characters actually communicate with each other. That was the case within this family….there was zero meaningful conversation and therefore there was nothing but constant frustration…on their end and mine.
By the conclusion, Sylvia, Joanna and Charles all had sort of mini epiphanies and did make the effort to open the lines of communication and break bad habits but I was frustrated even with this because the end was written in such a way that we jumped forward to a point in time after everything was resolved and tied up nicely with a bow. I felt as if I’d missed the last 1/4 of the novel and jumped straight to the epilogue. After all the slogging through the problems, I was not rewarded with a view into how they each came clean with each other, cleared the air and started rebuilding. How disappointing.
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