Book Reviews · Contemporary Fiction

All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin – Book Review

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From GoodreadsNina 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.

 

Fact: I have read every book that Emily Giffin has ever written. I follow her on insta (she’s to blame for my recent obsession with the Royal Family, I swear I didn’t care until her). She’s witty and funny and writes a damn good book. Her books are feel-goods, always have been.

Until now.

Emily Giffin has done something few authors have successfully accomplished. She has moved from the fluffy feel-good to a raw, difficult plot that isn’t pretty. All We Ever Wanted centers around a dramatic story we see often in today’s society: A high school party ends with an inappropriate picture and the rumors start to swirl. Told from 3 perspectives, Giffin tackles the dangerous accessibility of social media, racism and social elitism. These differing point of views do an excellent job of showing how varying the impact of this event are.

Nina is the mother of the accused photographer, Finch. Nina comes from a fairly normal background, she was raised in a middle class family, so her husbands wealth doesn’t come naturally for her. Due to her upbringing, Nina views Finch’s situation very differently than her husband. While Nina feels genuine guilt and shame over her son’s actions, her husband fails to see the gravity of Finch’s behavior, and instead thinks that with enough money, any problem can be made to disappear.

Tom is a single dad to Lyla, the teenager Finch snapped in an unflattering situation. Tom is the definition of Papa Bear, extremely protective and strict, so you can imagine the reaction he has. Tom and Lyla are not well off, but Tom works hard to provide the best life for his daughter, who has earned a scholarship to the prestigious private school where Finch is also a student.

This is not your run-of-the-mill contemporary fiction. This is an incredibly realistic and disgustingly shocking story that provides an emotional and powerful message.  A quick read, this is one to add to your list if you’re looking for that perfect summer read that packs a little more punch than the others.

“Because, I told her, at the very least, I shared the blame. It was my mistake, too. My fault for leading him on. My cross to bear.”

All We Ever Wanted hits shelves today so make sure to grab yours and share your thoughts with me!

Thank you to Netgalley, Random House/Ballantine for providing me with an advanced copy for my honest review.

Happy Reading!

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