Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Every Last One

I just finished Anna Quindlen's latest novel, Every Last One (2010). I am still breathless from the story, still shaken because it would seem that Quindlen somehow found a way into the locked recesses of my mind and camped out in my brain for a while.

I can't remember what else I have read by Quindlen, but I remember liking her. Seriously, it's like she knows me.  Perhaps she knows every small town working mother who, like me, is busy running a household.  The authenticity of her narrative, of the inner workings of the protagonist Mary Beth Latham's mind, is so vivid, so powerful, that at times, I felt like I was the originator of those thoughts.

Mary Beth's family is vibrant, busy, full of life and love and problems.  Her home is the center of their universe, where her three children and their friends gather on their way to and from their activities.  She has a special relationship with her 17 year old daughter, and has twin sons who are very different from one another.  She has a solid and comfortable, although perhaps not passionate marriage to her husband Glen.

When tragedy strikes this family, it is horrifying.  I tend to stay away from stories like this, because they leave me wondering how I would handle the aftermath of a terrible ordeal like the one that happens to Mary Beth.  But I'm glad I didn't pass this one over, because it was so amazing, and Mary Beth's actions and thoughts both before and after the tragedy seem so much like my own.

The complexities of the relationships she has with her friends and family after the horrible thing happens were compelling too.  I found myself thinking, "Yep, that's how my friend J would react, if I were in Mary Beth's shoes."

This is definitely a kleenex book.  It made me sob at times.  My heart broke for what Mary Beth was going through.  And it broke for me too - the imagined me that I kept going back to.  What would I do if that happened to me?  

I still think Anna Quindlen might have put some kind of thought tracking device into my brain to write this novel.  In so many ways, Mary Beth was me.  Thank goodness I haven't had to go through what she has.

Grade: A
Gripping story line, excellent writing, perfect character development.


Kirsten said...

I should pick this up. I LOVED her column in Newsweek. Newsweek has really gone to the crapper in recent years. Her leaving the magazine didn't help matters.

Sincerely, Jenni said...

I just added this to my Wish List at Barnes & Noble. It sounds like a great book!

Little Miss Sunshine State said...

I kept picking this up and putting it down at the library. I should get it, since we usually like the same books.

D. Marie said...

Just to give you an idea of how far behind I am in catching up on my blog reads, I'm JUST seeing this review. Did I add it to my list? Why, yes. Yes, I did.