All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
Published by Random House Audio on June 26, 2018
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, women’s fiction
Format & Length: audiobook, 10:29:57
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Nina 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 teenaged 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.
I haven’t read much by Emily Giffin but I understand she’s known for her romances. In All We Ever Wanted, she broke away from her mold with an altogether different story. And I had mixed feelings about it.
Generally speaking, I enjoy Giffin’s writing style. It flows well and is easy to read. It’s also effortless to follow in audio format while multi-tasking and not miss anything. I didn’t love all of the narration, though. This story is told from three different perspectives, and each one had their own narrator. The two women were fine, but I found Tom’s narration to be somewhat monotonous, making it hard to empathize with his character.
Many of the plot points in All We Ever Wanted were certainly relevant, dealing with matters of abuse, racism, social media, and much more. While timely and important subjects, by trying to deal with several tough subject matters it wound up feeling spread too thin. The pacing was also a bit off, starting off with a bang before slowing down significantly through the middle, then picking up to race to an end. Between the pacing and some of the themes not being as fleshed out as I would have liked, this didn’t quite have the closure I wanted.
In the end, All We Ever Wanted was a middle of the road read for me. I am in the minority, though, as many have loved this book. If it sounds like something you might like, definitely give it a shot! But I’d recommend trying a print rather than audio version.