Book Review: All We Ever Wanted

Not gonna lie…I thought this was a fluffy read and I was super in the mood for one of those. I completely judged the book by the cover and I judged so wrong. I’m kicking myself for not knowing better, but it ended up being a good read despite my mood for something different.

A high school prank/joke gone wrong creates a controversy at an elite private school (Windsor Academy) and, by extension, the upper-class community of Nashville. On one side is Lyla, a sophomore scholarship kid from that part of town and her over-protective single father, Tom. On the other side is Finch, the handsome senior who just got into Princeton and his mother, Nina, who comes from humbler roots and is realizing that her family’s money may be corruptive.

What I Loved:

» Nina doesn’t bury her head in the sand
She knows there’s something wrong with her marriage, her husband, and her son. Her husband is old money who makes his own fortune selling his tech company. She understands that her son isn’t the innocent child she raised and that he’s capable of making bad decisions. She also sees that letting her husband handle the situation may be the easiest solution, but not the best.

» Tom doesn’t bend to the will of his daughter
Lyla just wants to put her head down and wish nothing happened, but Tom refuses to let her. He advocates for her and stands up for her, even when she begs and demands that he doesn’t.

» The different perspectives
I enjoyed seeing how Tom, Nina, and Lyla approach the incident from their perspectives. They come at it in different ways and work together and separately to work past it.

» This quote:

“Minigolf,” she said with stone seriousness, “is a metaphor for life.”
I smiled and said, “Oh, really?”
“Yes. I mean, think about it….Do you take it seriously? Too seriously? Do you enjoy it? Do you keep careful score? Do you get upset when you lose? Do you cheat? And if you do cheat, how do you react when you’re busted? Are you sheepish? Sorry? Do you do it again?”

She’s not wrong. It’s a good way to judge someone’s character.

What I Wished For:

» Finch’s perspective or the subtraction of one of the perspectives
It seemed so lopsided to hear from 3/4 of the most involved parties. Halfway through, I was screaming to get a glimpse into Finch’s thoughts. If Finch isn’t going to be included, I wish we could take away one of the others. Either Tom & Lyla as the father/daughter duo going through this together, Tom & Nina as the parents trying to deal with their children’s predicament, or Lyla & Nina as women from two generations and two different families. It would have created a much better balance to have two in any combination.

» A less rushed ending
After so much build up, the ending seemed rushed. I couldn’t keep up and I had to reread parts to make sure I caught everything.

» Better closure
I know the ending was very much how real life goes, but I wished for more closure than that. That epilogue seemed a little too disconnected from where the story ended.

If you want a quick read with a heavier subject handled with a medium weight and an open-ended conclusion, you’ll enjoy this book.