Title: Every Last One
Author: Anna Quindlen
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Amazon Vine
Rating: 4 out of 5
Mary Beth Latham leads a happy life. It’s not perfect, but she is content with her husband Glen and their three children. Alex is a star athlete, but his twin Max feels underappreciated and seems to be depressed. Their daughter Ruby is in the throes of adolescence, and is subject to mercurial moods. Ruby is also having problems with her long-time boyfriend, Kiernan, who has become like a part of the family. This is a book about daily life and family.
Every Last One is a wonderful look at the mechanics of every day life for a mother. Mary Beth cares for her children and husband, finding fulfillment in her life through her role as a caretaker. When they are all off at school and work, Mary Beth sees to her gardening business. It’s a hobby-turned-profession, and it’s clear to her that her first calling in life is to be a mother.
I did like the character of Mary Beth. She was genuine and really loved her family. She wasn’t perfect and made mistakes. She lost her temper with her children and handled some situations badly. But overall, she just wanted the best for her kids. She was so real to me and I appreciated Quindlen’s honest portrayal of her.
The difficult part of this book is that I can’t review it without talking about something that happens in the middle of the novel, yet I don’t want to give away any hints as to what happens. Suffice it to say that this twist was shocking and unexpected. It completely changes the novel, transforming it from a book about simple living to something else entirely. I was numb with shock for the last half of the novel, and was only really able to process things once I put it down. While I can’t say I liked the turn the book took, I will say that it really shows Quindlen’s writing ability.
Unfortunately, that’s all I can really say about the novel without giving major plot points away, so this review will have to remain on the surface. I think this book would make a wonderful book club pick, as you’ll want to discuss this one and pick it apart, both good and bad, once you’re finished.