Friday, April 20, 2012

Every Last One - Anna Quindlen (Audio)

Ever since this book was published, which was about two years ago, I've known that something REALLY BAD happens about halfway through.  All the reviews are clear on that point.  But no one talks about what that bad thing is.  It is the most perfectly-guarded secret I've ever seen in the literary world (if you don't dig too deep on Amazon).


This is as it should be.  The only way to read this book is to go into it uninformed and unaware, and allow yourself to become consumed by the story.  Allow yourself to be haunted by the story.


Synopsis: Mary Beth Latham is the kind of mother that relishes in the chaos of having a 17 year-old daughter and twin 14 year-old boys.  She loves the constant noise, the bickering, the steady stream of friends in the house, and her role as the nurturer and guardian.  She believes, like most parents, that if she is involved in her children's life, that if she provides safety and security of a stable family environment, that it will be enough.  


It is not that there have not been trials.  Mary Beth's relatively happy marriage has had its bumps, her daughter Ruby had that eating disorder for awhile, and now one of the twins Max seems to be depressed.  But this is the nature of raising teenagers, and Mary Beth will move heaven and earth to make things right.


But sometimes, no matter what you do to protect your family, it is not enough.  Small actions have devastating consequences, and random factors outside your realm of control impact you in ways you would never imagine.  This is the story of how one woman comes out the other side, and deals with the unimaginable.


My thoughts:  My first thought, after I'd finished this book and settled down to analyze my thoughts and emotions, was "Nice.  Another thing for me to worry about."  I am a quiet worrier and an over-thinker by nature, so when I witness (even fictionally) the implosion of a normal family through an unthinkable act of violence, the ground beneath me shifts.  


I originally had avoided this book because I am never really in the mood for depression.  But I was wrong.  This goes beyond just your run-of-the-mill downer.  It is thoughtful.  It is shocking.  It is gorgeously written.  It is compelling.  It is tragic.  It rocked my world.  


I think the reason why it resonated with me so is that I could fully relate to Mary Beth's life.  I could be her.  I liked her, and respected her as a wife and a mother.  She made some errant turns in her life, but her voice was so real and earnest to me, I couldn't fault her.  I also liked the myriad of discussable topics that arise.  I'm not even sure I'd be able to list them all, but this would be a peach of a read for a book club.


A few words about the audio production:  Hope Davis was the narrator for this book, and it could not have been placed in more capable hands.  Hope also narrated "State of Wonder", so I knew I was in for a treat.  But she is so much better than a treat.  She is the perfect example of a narrator taking a really good book and making it exceptional.  I truly believe that this novel, in addition "State of Wonder", was propelled to a five star read because of her incredible talent.


5 out of 5 stars


     

20 comments:

Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

I agree with your thoughts on this one. I too listened to this on audio and thought it was a remarkable story that bites right into the fact that even when we think we have it all under control... most likely we do not.

Great review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Jim read this and really liked it, but somehow I never got to it.

Jeane said...

It sounds like a shocker. I'm dreading what the big secret is, though- if it's one (or more) of the kids dying, I don't know if I could read that.

reviewsbylola said...

This one sounds very powerful I have only read one book of Quindlens's years ago. Black and Blue I think?

Darlene said...

I agree, this is definitely a five star book. I'm not sure I've ever been as shocked by a book as I was by this one. I've long been a fan of Quindlen's and this novel was just another example of her extraordinary talent.

Zibilee said...

When you mentioned this one to me, I got it on audio, and now I just have to find the time to listen. I do have it in print as well, but the audio sounded like it might have been a better fit for me. I loved your review, and also love that you didn't give anything away. I need to get to this one soon!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

This one has been on my list for awhile, but like you, I heard there was a "bad thing" that happened and I've been avoiding it. I think I'll skip the print version, find Hope's audio version and dive in!

bermudaonion said...

I really want to read this one just to know what that bad thing is.

Meg @ write meg! said...

I love when the entire book community is able to keep a big secret under lock and key! This sounds compelling, though I'm worried that -- like you -- the tragedy would spark something in my mind that I could obsess over for a while. My worrywart tendencies really latch on to things like that.

Carrie K. said...

I have such vivid memories of lying in bed, reading this book, and then it happened... I had such a visceral reaction that it is seared in my memory. I love Anna Quindlen!

Alyce said...

I agree, it makes the experience of reading this book so powerful when you don't know what's going to happen. The audio production is excellent. Such a great listen, and it finally broke my dry spell. Now I just have to find a follow-up fiction audio.

Ti said...

Wow. It shocked AND rocked your world. I am hot and cold with Quindlen so I haven't gotten to this one yet.

Julie P. said...

I am a huge fan of Anna Quindlen's and I have to wonder why I haven't read this one.

Melissa said...

I've wanted to read this one, but will be listening instead. I can't pass up a 5 star audio!

JoAnn said...

I thought this was a good book, but didn't like it quite as much as you did. Kind of wish I'd gone the audio route with this one... Hope Davis is a great narrator.

Heather @ Book Addiction said...

This book shocked me to the core as well. You did such a good job explaining what is so compelling about it while not giving away the big thing. Great job.

Jenners said...

I agree with everything you said. And I do think that the audio elevates the book. I'm thinking I need to listen to State of Wonder now … though I wonder if I can hear Hope Davis as anyone other than Mary Beth!

Jackie Bailey said...

I've been planning to read this for a while, but you've just persuaded me to get the audio version. I love books that shock.

Anna said...

Wow, if it rocked your world, I totally need to dust off my copy and read it already!!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I read this awhile ago and loved it! It's one of those books that makes you feel so many emotions! I love when a book does that!