Saturday, January 8, 2011

Book Review:: Every Last One

Mary Beth Latham's life is typical. When not working at her successful landscaping business, her life revolves around her home and family. Her days are spent taxiing her three teenage children around and helping with everything from shopping for prom dresses to choosing a college. Her life, while certainly not perfect, is typical, and in many ways ideal. But after her daughter's ex-boyfriend commits a horrific act of violence against the family, Mary Beth is forced to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life, a life completely unlike her old one.

Sigh. I really don't know what to say about this book and I've been struggling over this review for almost a week. Usually, at the very least, I know how I feel about a book. But this one, I didn't really hate it but I didn't really like it either. It was just kind of.......there. Something to read while waiting for something better to read.

On a positive note, the writing in the book is gorgeous. It flows so smoothly and is almost poetic, without being too flowery. But the story itself is lacking. There was a lot of build up to the violent act that you know is coming and that will change things. But then in a blink of an eye it had happened and we're moving on. And then the story was over. This left me frustrated because I had wanted more details, but I don't think this is a book about details. It's a book about feelings. Blech. More specifically, feeling things and not discussing those feelings with others. Double blech. I hate it when people suppress their feelings to the detriment of themselves and those around them. Eventually, I just stopped caring about the characters in this book.

Let's discuss the author, Anna Quindlen, for a moment. Do any of you like her? I know she's a well known and prolific writer and journalist but I really don't know much about her work. I had been hearing her name for years yet had never read anything by her. Are all of her books like this? I saw this as sort of chick-lit for middle aged women, not really a genre I see myself getting into anytime soon.

So, should you read this book? I don't know. It's not the worst thing I've ever read, and I'm sure there are a lot of women who this book would appeal to. I'm just not one of them. At best, I consider it just a mildly engrossing waste of time.

10 comments:

Daphne said...

Nothing better than a half-hearted review of a half-hearted book! Bleah. I'll skip it, although I theoretically like Anna Quindlen, although I couldn't tell you why. Maybe I've liked some essays by her or something?

Tammie said...

daphne: i thought i liked her too. she had articles in the back of a magazine that i used to read (Time?Newsweek? I dont know.) but i remember mostly liking them which was why i was surprised by the dullness of this book. oh well. lesson learned. not a good way to start off the year though.....

Dani said...

I've been reading The Doctor's Wife. I'm about 1/3 of the way through it and can't go on. It's subject matter is depressing (abortion, incest, adultery) and I have found myself feeling sickened by the characters. Not worth my time.

Now I'm on to The Omnivore's Delima. A much better read thus far.

If I have horrendous spelling, I'm blaming it on my migraine-like headache that has destroyed a good portion of my brain cells this weekend.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I've tried to read her before....but didn't like her style. I think she wrote (maybe still does) for Newsweek. Maybe she should stick to that and skip the novels.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I used to read her column in the newspaper regularly. I also liked a couple of her books but for the life of me while I type this I can't recall their names.

I have this book on my nightstand. I had read the same few chapters over and over again and then go to another book. Since I bought this book I have read 4 others. So you can see how much I love it can't you?

I wish I had read your review first.

Lia said...

I hate books that leave me feeling like that. Luckily, it's only happened to me a few times.

I'm fairly certain I haven't read any Quindlen and I don't think I'll start now.

Not to horrify you or anything, but I don't think I've read a book for myself since school has started. WTF have I been doing?

The WoodLand School said...

I have read several of Anna Quindlen's novels, my favorite being Blessings. While I adore the actual reading ... Quindlen is a master of poetic language and acute observation, I don't care for her heavy/freaky subject matter. For that reason, I haven't really developed a full-fledged obsession. One book I adored (and I think you will, too) was How Reading Changed My Life.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I like Quindlen's writing and when I picked up Every Last One I knew nothing about it. I avoided reviews and didn't read the book jacket so what I expected to happen was a million miles off from what actually took place.

For me not knowing even that there was a violent act in the book made it such a shock when I read it--not where I thought the book was going. I've suggested it to people with the caveat "Don't read anything about the book prior to page one or I think it will be ruined." I know I would have read the book differently if I knew something like that was coming.

Jane said...

Hi Tammie
The best Anna Quindlen book i have read is a little shorty called "a short guide to a happy life" It only takes about 20 minutes to read (an inspirational type of thing). The moral of the story is on the last page. I love it and have passed it around to friends who could benefit from looking at life from a different perspective. Best wishes, Jane

Tammie said...

jane: thanks! im going to request that one from the library right now.