Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard


The first thing we learn is there has been a possible suicide at the prestigious school, Swithin. There is a shadow around the students’ death, a possible hazing. Sylvie Bates-McAlister gets the call. As a board member, she isn’t sure why she is being told about the incident until she realizes her son, Scott who is an assistant wrestling coach, will need to be questioned about his possible knowledge of hazing. You expect the story to move in the direction of a full investigation, but story isn’t about the possible hazing but about the family. The chapters center on the private thoughts of Sylvie, her son Charles, and his wife Joanna—not Scott.

Sylvie is a widow who is coping with her husband’s infidelity and questioning whether Scott had anything to do with or knowledge of this boy being hazed. She seems to walk on egg shells around Scott—not comfortable in her own skin when he’s around. Charles & Joanna are newlyweds whose marriage seems to be crumbling. For these characters are all functioning under the weight of their secrets, fears, and rumors.

The first half of the book has very little forward movement, more of learning how each of them got to this point in time. As the story begins to move forward, the characters seem to grow further apart, as the secrets and fears of the past slowly come to light. The more we learn the darker their worlds’ become.

When I began reading this novel it seemed very dark. The description of the family home, Roderick, reminded me of Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher. The house almost seems to have a personality of its’ own. I honestly did not relate or really care for any of the characters at first, but as I got to learn a little bit more about each of them I wanted to see how everything would play out. Shepard wrote each chapter designating it to Sylvie, Charles or Joanna. The chapters moved quickly and had me wanting to know more about each of them. In no time whatsoever, my opinions started to shift. The characters had so much emotional baggage (especially Sylvie and Charles), so as I read on I was very impressed by the depth of these characters. I loved how real the characters began to feel and interestingly found Scott to be so very one dimensional for most of the story.

I would say the sudden change from Scott being a one dimensional character to suddenly being a very real three dimensional person was one of the best parts of the novel, and I personally thought this was a great book. When they begin to see Scott for who he truly is and was. The end of the book goes back to the house and the sameness. The house is the same as when Sylvie’s grandfather lived there. Yet, they are all different. It’s then they are no longer bound to the family heritage.

I very much enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as much about a story as about people and I found it beautifully written and smart. I would recommend.

Shepard is also the author of the book series Pretty Little Liars

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