Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Every Last One will break your heart, and give you hope for putting it back together again

When I heard my book club at Wellington Square Bookshop, Exton, had chosen Anna Quindlen's "Every Last One" (Random House, 2010, $26, hardback, 299 pp.) for September I was excited - the book was already sitting in the makeshift "library" at my office. All I had to do was take it home and devour it.

So I did. And when I turned the last page of the novel last night I was so proud to have finished it before Thursday's book club meeting. Until I looked on the bookshop's calendar and saw the meeting was LAST WEEK. Er, oops. Where the heck did September go, anyhow?

Actually, I'm bummed, because this is the kind of novel that would make for explosive, impassioned, really good discussion. The novel is told from the viewpoint of Mary Beth Latham, landscape business owner and wife of opthalmalogist Glen and mother of teenaged Ruby and twin sons Alex and Max. Without giving away what happens in the book, I can say that there's a powerful change in tone and story that happens about halfway through.
cover of the version I read
 Before reading this book, which I admired if not loved, I was on the fence about Quindlen. The last novel of hers that I read, "Blessings," was saccharin, trite and awful. But she has produced several other rather dark, lovely, complicated and intricately detailed novels, including "One True Thing" and "Object Lessons" that I liked.

"Every Last One" hooks you in with rich descriptions of domestic tranquillity, and keeps you while slowly revealing the rifts and heartbreak that lie beneath.


New York Times book reviewer Maggie Scarf said it better in her Oct. 16, 2010 review (which doesn't reveal the twist, either.)

NPR's Jane Ciabattari's April 21, 2010 review includes an excerpt.

1 comment:

France said...

True this book will break your heart...This is a compelling novel by a wonderful writer. As the book begins we meet the Latham family, a privileged middle class family, three children, calm, normal, every day living, then....Tragedy strikes. The inner turmoil, self-blame, and the rest of their lives to find their way and survive, because there is no other choice tells the rest of the tale. This is a story of strength and resilience and life needs to go on. A journey well worth the experience!