Author: Sara Shepard
Publication date: 2011
Pages: 336 (paperback)
Genre: Adult Fiction
Have you ever felt like things are slipping through your fingers and you cannot do anything but let them? Have you ever wished you could take back things you said before or that you could forget the past and start your life all over again? This is exactly what the Bates-McAllisters are going through in Sara Shepard’s latest novel, Everything We Ever Wanted.
It all starts with a telephone call. Sylvie Bates-McAllister, a recently-widowed mother of two gets a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son Scott teaches. He tells her that Scott may be involved a hazing scandal and thus may be responsible for a student’s sudden death. And with this, the family is thrown into chaos – we embark on a journey to the past, exploring well-hidden secrets and events that have never been told before and enter a world where everyone is being judged, where everyone has prejudices – a world not too far from reality.
I was very excited when I got my ARC of Everything We Ever Wanted. Although this is the first book I have read by Sara Shepard, the blogging world is crazy about the Pretty Little Liars series so I was really looking forward to reading it. As far as the story is concerned, I was expecting something more complicated. About two chapters in, I realized that it was entirely different, but not in a bad way. Shepard’s main focus is on people’s feelings and emotional growth rather than action itself. Everything We Ever Wanted took me a while to get into because I am used to reading fast paced stories and because I could not relate to any of the characters at first. It takes some time for the readers to get to know them but once you are familiar with their characteristics and you know what their childhood have been like, you do not want to put the book down. You realize that they are just like us: they have their flaws, they make mistakes, they say things they wish they did not say and they have prejudices … but they are perfectly normal.
It is complex but rewarding and highly emotional story which describes our society perfectly. For me the most meaningful and expressive part of the story was Sylvie’s remark towards the end of the book
“I don’t have many friends,” Sylvie said, her head down. “I…I know a lot of people. But there aren’t many people I can really talk to. I find it hard to connect. I’ve always envied people who find it easy.”
Everything We Ever Wanted portrays a world where people swallow up their frustration and pretend that everything is fine,a world that is built up on appearances. It is a novel that will definitely make you think about your own life, that assures us that we all make mistakes but we need to come to terms with them, accept them and learn from them. As cliché as it might sound, it points out that everything that is worth having is worth fighting for and it warns us against being judgemental because nothing is ever what it seems.