All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted

by Emily Giffin


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New York Times Bestseller In this riveting novel from the #1 bestselling author of Something Borrowed and First Comes Love, three very different people must choose between their families and their most deeply held values. . . .

An unpredictable page-turner that unfolds in the voices of three superbly distinct characters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution A gripping, thought-provoking journey. Jodi Picoult


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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399178948
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/23/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 3,805
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Emily Giffin is the author of eight internationally bestselling novels: Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Baby Proof, Love the One You’re With, Heart of the Matter, Where We Belong, The One & Only, and First Comes Love. A graduate of Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children.

Read an Excerpt

chapter one


It started out as a typical Saturday night. And by typical, I don’t mean normal in any mainstream American way. There was no grilling out with the neighbors or going to the movies or doing any of the things I did as a kid. It was simply typical for what we’d become since Kirk sold his software company, and we went from comfortable to wealthy. Very wealthy.

Obscene was the description my childhood best friend Julie once used—­not about us, but about Melanie, another friend—­after Melanie bought herself a diamond Rolex for Mother’s Day and then offhandedly remarked at one of our dinner parties that homemade pottery from her kids “wasn’t going to cut it.”

“She could feed a Syrian refugee camp for an entire year with that watch,” Julie had groused in my kitchen after the other guests had departed. “It’s obscene.”

I’d nodded noncommittally, hiding my own Cartier under the edge of our marble island, as I silently reassured myself with all the ways my watch, and therefore my life, were different from Melanie’s. For one, I didn’t buy the watch for myself on a whim; Kirk gave it to me for our fifteenth anniversary. For another, I had always loved when our son, Finch, made me presents and cards in his younger years, and was sad that those had become relics of the past.

Most important, I don’t think I ever flaunted our wealth. If anything, it embarrassed me. As a result, Julie didn’t hold our money against me. She didn’t know our exact worth but had a general sense of it, especially after she’d gone house hunting with me when Kirk was too busy, helping me find our home on Belle Meade Boulevard, where we now lived. She and her husband and girls were regular guests at our lake house and our home on Nantucket, just as she happily inherited my gently used designer hand-­me-­downs.

Occasionally Julie would call Kirk out, though, not for being showy like Melanie but for having elitist tendencies. A fourth-­generation silver-­spoon Nashvillian, my husband grew up ensconced in a private-­school, country-­club world, so he’d had some practice at being a snob, even back when his money was merely old, and not yet obscene. In other words, Kirk came from a “good family”—­that elusive term that nobody ever came out and defined, yet we all knew was code for having old money and a certain well-­bred, refined taste. As in: he’s a Browning.

My maiden name, Silver, held no such status, not even by the standards of Bristol, the town on the Tennessee-­Virginia border where I grew up and Julie still lived. We were no slouches—­my dad wrote for the Bristol Herald Courier and my mom was a fourth-­grade teacher—­but we were squarely middle class, and our idea of living large was everyone ordering dessert at a nonchain restaurant. Looking back, I wonder if that may have explained my mom’s preoccupation with money. It wasn’t that she was impressed with it, but she could always tell you who had it and who did not, who was cheap and who was living beyond their means. Then again, my mom could pretty much tell you anything about anyone in Bristol. She wasn’t a gossip—­at least not a mean-­spirited one—­she was simply fascinated by other people’s business, from their wealth and health to their politics and religion.

Incidentally, my dad is Jewish and my mother Methodist. Live and let live is their mantra, an outlook that was passed on to both my brother, Max, and me, the two of us embracing the more attractive elements of each religion, like Santa Claus and Seders, while punting Jewish guilt and Christian judgment. This was a good thing, especially for Max, who came out during college. My parents didn’t miss a beat. If anything, they seemed more uncomfortable with Kirk’s money than with my brother’s sexuality, at least when we first began to date. My mother had insisted that she was just sad I wouldn’t be getting back together with Teddy, my high school boyfriend, whom she adored, but I sometimes sensed a slight inferiority complex, and her worry that the Brownings were somehow looking down on me and my family.

To be fair, a half-­Jewish girl from Bristol with a gay brother and no trust fund probably wasn’t their first choice for their only child. Hell, I probably wasn’t Kirk’s first choice on paper, either. But what can I say? He picked me anyway. I’d always told myself that he fell in love with my personality—­with me—­the same way I fell in love with him. But in the past couple of years I had begun to wonder about both of us, and what had brought us together in college.

I had to admit that when discussing our relationship, Kirk often referenced my looks. He always had. So I’d be naïve to think that my appearance had nothing to do with why we were together—­just as I knew, deep down, that the patina and security of a “good family” had, in part, attracted me to him.

I hated everything about that admission, but it was definitely on my mind that Saturday night as Kirk and I took an Uber to the Hermitage Hotel for about our fifth gala of the year. We had become that couple, I remember thinking in the back of that black Lincoln Town Car—­the husband and wife in an Armani tux and a Dior gown who were barely speaking. Something was off in our relationship. Was it the money? Had Kirk become too obsessed with it? Had I somehow lost myself as Finch grew older and I spent less time mothering him and more time in the role of full-­time philanthropist?

I thought about one of my dad’s recent remarks, asking why my friends and I didn’t just skip the galas—­and give all the money to charity. My mom had chimed in that we might be able to accomplish “more meaningful work in blue jeans than black tie.” I had gotten defensive, reminding them that I did that sort of hands-­on work, too, such as the hours I spent every month answering calls on Nashville’s suicide helpline. Of course I hadn’t admitted to my parents that Kirk sometimes minimized that kind of volunteering, insisting that I was better off “just writing the check.” In his mind, a donation of dollars always trumped time; the fact that it came with more splash and credit was beside the point.

Kirk was a good man, I told myself now, as I watched him take a swallow of the bourbon roadie that he’d poured into a red Solo cup. I was being too hard on him. On both of us.

“You look fabulous,” he suddenly said, looking over at me, softening me further. “That dress is incredible.”

“Thanks, honey,” I said in a low voice.

“I can’t wait to take it off you,” he whispered, so the driver wouldn’t hear him. He gave me a seductive look, then took another drink.

I smiled, thinking that it had been a while, and resisted the urge to tell him that he might want to slow down on the booze. Kirk didn’t have a drinking problem, but it was a rare night that he didn’t at least catch a red-­wine buzz. Maybe that was it, I thought. We definitely both needed to ease up on our social calendars. Be less distracted. More present. Maybe that would come when Finch went to college in the fall.

“So. Who have you told? About Princeton?” he asked, clearly thinking about Finch, too, and the acceptance letter he’d just received the day before.

“Other than family, only Julie and Melanie,” I said. “What about you?”

“Just the guys in my foursome today,” he said, rattling off the names of his usual golf buddies. “I didn’t want to brag . . . but I couldn’t help myself.”

His expression mirrored the way I felt—­a mix of pride and disbelief. Finch was a good student, and had gotten into Vanderbilt and Virginia earlier that winter. But Princeton had been a long shot, and his admittance felt like a culmination and validation of so many parenting decisions, beginning with applying Finch to Windsor Academy, the most rigorous and prestigious private school in Nashville, when he was only five years old. Since then, we had always prioritized our son’s education, hiring private tutors when needed, exposing him to the arts, and taking him to virtually every corner of the globe. Over the past three summers, we had sent him on a service trip to Ecuador, to a cycling camp in France, and on a marine biology course in the Galápagos Islands. I recognized, of course, that we were at a distinct financial advantage over so many other applicants, and something about that (especially the check we’d written to Princeton’s endowment) made me feel a little guilty. But I told myself that money alone couldn’t gain a kid admission to the Ivy League. Finch had worked hard, and I was so proud of him.

Focus on that, I told myself. Focus on the positive.

Kirk was looking at his phone again, so I pulled mine out, too, checking Instagram. Finch’s girlfriend, Polly, had just posted a photo of the two of them, the caption reading: We’re both Tigers, y’all! Clemson and Princeton, here we come! I showed the picture to Kirk, then read aloud some of the congratulatory comments from children of our friends who would be in attendance tonight.

“Poor Polly,” Kirk said. “They won’t last a semester.”

I wasn’t sure if he meant the distance between South Carolina and New Jersey or the mere reality of young love, but I murmured my agreement, trying not to think of the condom wrapper that I’d recently found under Finch’s bed. The discovery was far from a surprise, but it still made me sad, thinking of how much he had grown up and changed. He used to be such a little chatterbox, a precocious only child regaling me with every detail of his day. There was nothing I hadn’t known about him, nothing he wouldn’t have shared. But with puberty came an onset of remoteness that never really cleared, and in recent months, we’d talked very little, no matter how hard I tried to break down his barriers. Kirk insisted it was normal, all part of a boy’s preparation to leave the nest. You worry too much, he always told me.

I put my phone back in my bag, sighed, and said, “Are you ready for tonight?”

“Ready for what?” he asked, draining his bourbon as we turned onto Sixth Avenue.

“Our speech?” I said, meaning his speech, though I would be standing beside him, offering him moral support.

Kirk gave me a blank stare. “Speech? Remind me? Which gala is this, again?”

“I hope you’re kidding?”

“It’s hard to keep them all straight—­”

I sighed and said, “The Hope Gala, honey.”

“And we are hoping for what, exactly?” he asked with a smirk.

“Suicide awareness and prevention,” I said. “We’re being honored, remember?”

“For what?” he asked, now starting to annoy me.

“The work we did bringing mental health experts to Nashville,” I said, even though we both knew it had much more to do with the fifty-­thousand-­dollar donation we’d given after a freshman at Windsor took her life last summer. It was too horrible for me to process, even all these months later.

“I’m kidding,” Kirk said, as he reached out to pat my leg. “I’m ready.”

I nodded, thinking that Kirk was always ready. Always on. The most confident, competent man I’d ever known.

A moment later, we pulled up to the hotel. A handsome young valet swung open my door, issuing a brisk welcome. “Will you be checking in tonight, madame?” he asked.

I told him no, we were here for the gala. He nodded, offering me his hand, as I gathered the folds of my black lace gown and stepped onto the sidewalk. Ahead of me, I saw Melanie chatting amid a cluster of friends and acquaintances. The usual crowd. She rushed toward me, giving me air kisses and compliments.

“You look amazing, too. Are those new?” I reached up to her face, my fingertips grazing the most gorgeous chandelier diamond earrings.

“Newly acquired but vintage,” she said. “Latest apology from you know who.”

I smiled and glanced around for her husband. “Where is Todd, anyway?”

Reading Group Guide

1. Discuss the title, All We Ever Wanted. How do you think it relates to the overall story? How does it apply to each of the characters in the book?

2. Both Nina and Kirk have very different ideas about what the “right path” is for Finch. How do you think each parent justifies their actions?

3. Tom is furious about the transgression against his daughter, and believes she deserves justice. How do Tom’s responsibilities as a parent come into conflict with the ethics of respecting Lyla’s wishes?

4. As the book progresses, Nina finds herself siding with Tom’s values rather than her husband’s. Do you feel that Nina is betraying her family by aligning with Tom? Is she betraying herself if she does not stick to her beliefs? Whom does she owe her loyalty to more?

5. In chapter eleven, Melanie tells Nina that it’s a mother’s responsibility to stand by her child “no matter what.” Do you agree with this assertion?

6. Why do you think Lyla is so willing to trust and even begin dating Finch? As you were reading, did you believe Finch’s claim that Polly stole his phone and took the picture of Lyla? If so, was there a point at which you began to doubt Finch?

7. Discuss the ways in which Tom’s and Nina’s pasts inform the way they live their lives in the present. Do you believe they were/are living their best lives?

8. This book poses the question of what lengths one should go to in order to protect one’s family versus preserve one’s values. What would you have done in Nina’s position? In Tom’s?

9. In the epilogue, Lyla tells Finch that Nina “saved” them both. What do you think she means? Do you believe this is an accurate statement?

10. If you could write subsequent chapters for this book, how do you imagine the relationship between Tom, Nina, Lyla, Finch, and Kirk playing out?

Customer Reviews

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All We Ever Wanted (B&N Exclusive Edition) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 107 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have read most of her books and liked them however this story didn't seem very original. Also, it is too political. Not looking for that in a fictional novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read to me is when im sorry to get to the last page This book did that for me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read and loved every one of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, I couldn't put a book down. Great story, and caught my interest from the first page. I'm eagerly awaiting her next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. Love her books and this one is no exception. Her characters are so real and you feel yourself so involved in the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, what a fantastic story. I write this review with mist still in my eyes. I too, have hope that people can change sometimes...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In her great voice, Giffin has again given us characters that we care about and a journey that holds our interest until the very end.
PNWBookworm More than 1 year ago
This book explores a lot of different issues including class divisions, racism, immigrants, sexual exploitation and the different attitudes towards boys and girls. The story is extremely well written and pulls the reader in immediately. I couldn’t put it down. Multiple view points are used to tell the story and while I completely understand why this was necessary I think it actually took away from the story a little. There were so many issues at play here and none of them were explored in enough depth because we kept jumping around to different people. That being said I really liked all of the characters, especially Nina. I did feel like she had turned a blind eye to the what all that wealth and privilege had done to her family and let it slide to far. One of the things it really made me think about was parenting. The book centers largely around two teenagers and how their parents react to the photo. I had to pause a couple times to consider what I would do. I gave the story 3.5 stars simply because of the lack of really getting into certain issues. Otherwise I really liked it!
Cinemabelle More than 1 year ago
Determined to get to the second book in the series that everyone I knew had assured me was "the best," over the years, I must've picked up and earnestly started my paperback copy of Emily Giffin's Something Borrowed dozens of times but just couldn't relate to the characters. And while I feared the same would be true for Giffin's latest novel All We Ever Wanted, especially considering that the first chapter of the book – which divides the storyline into three alternating first person points-of-view – began from the perspective of the wealthy one percenter wife from Nashville's elite, Giffin quickly replaces first world problems with real world problems. Shocked to her core upon discovering appalling decision made by her Princeton bound son, in trying to get to the bottom of what exactly happened and what on Earth he was thinking, Nina Browning is forced to take a good hard look at her life and marriage as well as her past when she found herself at the other end of a similar horrific situation. Continuing the action from the perspective of the two main other parties involved including her son's younger classmate, Lyla and Lyla's protective single father Tom, Giffin deftly balances her richly compelling drama with timely issues of economic inequality, racism, and sexual harassment in the digital age. Surprising her readers with a few well-earned twists, while despite the narrative roller-coaster, we're pretty sure we know precisely who's to blame, ultimately it's in Lyla and Nina's journey toward accepting and understanding the truth that made the book increasingly hard to stop reading, particularly in its second half. An ideal property for HBO to look into adapting as part of its annual miniseries exploration of twenty-first century women in literature, All We Ever Wanted might have been my first Emily Giffin work but it's just the right one to make me want to pick up Something Borrowed again for good. Note: I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this title from Bookish First in exchange for an honest opinion.
MyMyN More than 1 year ago
I completely enjoyed this book, so much so that I read it all in a day. The story started off really strong for me and kind of paced down just a bit by the middle end but the epilogue made up for it. Usually I do not care for epilogues because the majority of the time I feel like the story has a greater impact without them but the epilogue for All We Ever Wanted was not just another epilogue, but a powerful wrap-up of what we are as individuals are capable of if we have the unconditional love and support we need and not necessarily want. All We Ever Wanted was a thought provoking and emotional story written in 3 different POVs. It opens our eyes to how not everything is in black and white but plenty shades of gray. It is not only about what is right or wrong but our moral compass should always be at play. It’s about unconditional love under a different lighting. The way the author portrayed these characters are incredible – they are imperfectly perfect. I appreciate how the characters let their action speak for them and how they stood for what they believe in even if it could turn their life upside down. It is about accepting the truth for what it is and what is done from that point is what truly defines a person. As a mother, I felt for Nina and Tom from the beginning and by the end I have the utmost respect for the both of them and I do not doubt you all will as well.
Lucci0517 More than 1 year ago
I’ve read other books by Emily Giffin and enjoyed all of the them. They were great “take to the beach” summer reading... light, breezy romance to pass the time (and I mean that in a good sense). When I saw this come out on Netgalley, I was so happy to be able to receive an advanced copy. Thank you Netgalley and Ballantine, Random House for providing this ARC to me for an unbiased review of this book. As soon as I started reading this book, I knew it was not going to be anything like her other books and that wasn’t a bad thing. The book gives the reader the perspectives of Nina, Tom, and Lyla when, in a moment of drunken stupidness, a damaging photo is taken and this photo goes viral. Nina Browning was brought up in a middle class family. She is now very wealthy due to her husband’s successful business ventures. They give a substantial amount of money to different charities but they both have very different reasons for doing this, as you will see when you read the book. They have a son (Finch) who feels that the wealth of his family makes him better than anyone who doesn’t have the finances readily available to them as he does. He thinks more like his father than his mother. Nina doesn’t feel superior because of her wealth and feels that people should be responsible for their actions no matter who they are. Tom Volpe is a middle class workings single father who is very protective of his daughter, Lyla. Lyla is a teenager who is trying to fit into a private school where wealth abounds. Because of the photo that went viral, they all have to come together and you will see how each of them copes with the situation. As the story unfolds, you will see how differently their points of view are concerning what happened that night. This book grabbed my attention at the first chapter. I would have liked to have seen how the end was played out a little more than it was but I still give it 5 stars. It it hadn’t been such a good book, I wouldn’t have cared that it ended sooner than I wanted it to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a long time reader and lover of Emily Giffin's books, her newest book All We Ever Wanted was not at all what I expected because it is a departure from her usual writing style, but I loved it!  All We Ever Wanted is not only one of the most enjoyable books that I've read this year, it is a compelling look at motherhood, parenting, family, friendship, teenagehood, love, and ultimately the decisions one must make when faced with during difficult times-do you do what is morally and ethically right or do what is socially expected?   Although the topics in All We Ever Wanted are heavier than Giffin's normal lighthearted romances, she doesn't disappoint her readers with this powerful and riveting novel. In the book, Griffin tackles important and timely topics such as sexism, racism, assault, social stigma, classism, and gender discrimination, as well as how social media and its lack of privacy can be extremely damaging to a person's reputation in just a matter of seconds...all it takes is one picture posted online to quickly spread and destroy a reputation.  The story is told through the perspectives of Lyla, Tom, and Nina, Finch's mother, and I have to say that I loved all of their perspectives although I identified with Nina most of all. Yet, I loved hearing from Lyla as the confused teenager devastated by what had happened to her but determined to rise above, persevere, and move on despite all social repercussions. Tom is a great dad attempting to manage alone while trying to figure out how to give Lyla her freedom as she grows into a young woman and still protect his little girl. But Nina, in my opinion, made this book the excellent read that it is. Nina is just all heart and soul even though she is torn in a million directions by the events of that night and what follows. I have to admit that I immediately felt a connection with her when in the first chapter, Nina tells about being from Bristol, a small town on the Tennessee-Virginia border. I laughed since that's where I was born and grew up and most of my family still lives there! I've never read a book about anyone being from Bristol, so Giffin shocked me in a good way! Anyway, I knew immediately that I would love Nina, and I did. Even though she married into the high-class Nashville society, I knew there was no way she could lose herself and the girl who grew up in Bristol, and I was right! Giffin portrays how, as a mother, it is hard for Nina to look at her son and face some hard truths about his behavior, the repercussions his actions have on Lyla, Tom, and her own family, what consequences he needs to face, the tough love she needs to give him, and subsequently how her own life is changed by these events. Giffin deftly navigates the tumultuous waters of tough parenting with empathy and compassion. Being a mother of two teenage boys, what Nina went through tugged at my heart and I have to admit that I spent several parts of this book crying...for Nina, Lyla, and for the reality that these things happen not only in novels. All We Ever Wanted is a blockbuster, must read this summer, and I truly think this is Giffin's best book to date. Griffin has more than proven she is multi-talented with the change in direction of this novel and it's more than timely topics. I hope to see more of these thought-provoking, enthralling novels from her in the future. **Thank you, NetGalley and Ballentine Books for my review copy in exchange for my fair and honest review. **
YourDreamComeTrue More than 1 year ago
To start, I absolutely love Emily Giffin. Her writing is superb and she is such a great storyteller, I have not read a book of her I didn't like and I practically screamed when I found out she was coming out with another book. This story is told from three perspectives and I honestly thought it would be a problem, but it isn't. This story follows Nashville's elite and shows that one "mistake" can alter so much. I am also a big fan of stories following "wealthy" families when they get the light shone on them, showing that they are just like the rest of society with their problems and their secrets, they just deal with their problems at white tie galas and I deal with mine binge-watching Parks & Rec in sweatpants.
mzglorybe More than 1 year ago
A thought-provoking look at values, those that have them and those that only think they have them. It is very timely what with today’s technology, mobile phones, and the very prevalent use by teenagers taking photos of each other and posting on social media. This character-driven novel brings up a very realistic look at what could happen to anyone, anywhere and you’ll ask yourself, what would I do in this situation? Nina Browning thought she was happily married to a wealthy man, with a popular and outgoing 18-yr old son who just got accepted to Princeton. Her background is very middle class, but she’s been living a privileged life-style since she married business tycoon Kirk Browning. When their son is accused of inappropriate behavior and his scholarship is threatened she realizes that her husband will do anything to prevent their son from facing any harsh repercussions. The son claims he is innocent, but is he? She is seeing a side to her husband that she’d never seen before and she can’t help but see that her son is following in his example, which frightens her. Why hadn’t she noticed this before? Other people have brought it to her attention, but she was blinded by loyalty and a belief that her marriage was above reproach. There’s an important and timely message behind the written words here. Be careful about assuming you know someone completely and unequivocally. A person’s outward appearance or words are often times hiding their true nature. Dire circumstances can bring out the best or the worst in a person. Are you in this together, or alone with your ethics? Written in the format of 3 characters each voicing their side of the story, this held my interest the entire read. We ended up having a discussion in our own family of how something that might seem a lark or seemingly innocent comments on social media can affect others disastrously. Thankfully, the epilogue let us see what long term effects transpired. I really liked this and recommend it to either YA, or domestic fiction fans. My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read the ARC and post my honest and unbiased opinion. Don’t miss this poignant story about loyalty and love, especially if you have teens. Watch for this release on June 26, 2018
Bookapotamus More than 1 year ago
Wow. Just wow. This book is SO relevant right now with the #metoo movement and #timesup. It breaks my heart to realize how often stories like this happen, to anyone, of any age or social/financial status - there is no discrimination, and sadly there just isn't enough conversation about these topics. I applaud Emily Giffin for writing this book. I had no idea in detail what this story was about when I requested it from NetGalley. I like to be surprised with Emily's books, and I've never read one I didn't like. And I sure was surprised by this one! It's almost like, "If you could walk in someone's shoes" - I felt like i was dropped into this book, as if I was in on a secret, and I just sat back and watched the secrets unravel and unfold. Something happened to Lyla. Something not good at all. It started with a bunch of elite private high school kids (and some not-so-privileged) at a party, with a lot of alcohol... and you can just imagine it from there. Something happens. Accusations fly, lies are told, people unravel, secrets come out, and trusts are broken. This books tells the story from several angles and I found myself so attached to them all. They are so well written I honestly felt as if I was in a mother's head, a father's mind and in the thoughts of a 16 year old girl. I sailed through this, as I do most of Emily's books because I love her writing style and how easily I can just jump into her stories. I wanted to find out more, I wanted justice, and I craved a neat and tidy resolution, but we all know these types things are never neat and tidy. This book is important. I wish everyone would read this. Although every #metoo story is different, this casts a glimpse into how each and every incident causes so, so much pain, to so many people - and ultimately how getting these types of stories out in the world, can hopefully ease some of that pain by helping and educating others. Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for the opportunity to review this amazing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In true Emily Giffin style, this book pulls you in and brings you right into the middle of relationships and personal situations. Giffin developed the characters expertly, and I felt connected to them (mostly Nina and Lyla). They seemed real with real life situations and problems. The story was also great. Mostly chick-lit, but it was deeper than that. There are themes of women empowerment as well relevant women issues relating to the "Me Too" movement. My only issue was that some of the dialogue was cheesy, but a great and interesting story overall! Growing up and living in Nashville most of my life, I appreciated all of the call-outs to different spots and areas around town. It especially helped my ability to picture everything, and knowing a lot of about Belle Meade helped me understand exactly who these characters were. It felt like a real story. However, I did feel like it tried too hard sometimes, but I appreciated the love of Nashville that shined through! *Thank you to Netgalley, Random House, and Ballantine for the ARC, for which I have given an honest and unbiased review*
ColdBrewBookReviews 5 months ago
Emily Giffin always writes the sweetest stories, and this is no exception. This book had a darker plot than some of her books, but I still loved how real and raw it was. The ending was somewhat expected, but rewarding still the same. However there were some twists along the way. I thought Giffin tackled the themes of privilege and racism really well. As unlikable as certain characters are, the reader understands why they are that way. That does not mean that you condone their behavior, but it's definitely a "aha" moment when you realize why they reacted certain ways to certain characters. I would recommend this book, especially if you like Emily Giffin. It's a sweet, realistic look into more serious themes than she usually explores. But a solid read for sure.
MamaHendo 8 months ago
From the outside it would appear that Nina has the perfect life. Husband she loves, a son recently accepted to Princeton, a fortune in the bank allowing her to focus on volunteering for causes she cares about but things aren't always what they seem. While Nina and her husband attend a charity event, across town their "perfect" son is making a decision that would derail everything. Tom is a loving and caring single father to his daughter Lyla working two jobs to be able to send her to the prestigious private high school she attends along with Nina's son. When Lyla's mother left them, Tom vowed that he would keep Lyla safe at all costs causing him be overprotective and watchful of everything Lyla does but Tom doesn't know about the things his teenage daughter hides from him. These two families' worlds become irrevocably intertwined all thanks to a single photograph and the aftershock reactions it creates throughout their pristine Nashville neighborhood. Written with alternating perspectives from Nina, Tom & Lyla, "All We Ever Wanted" is a bit of a different departure from Emily Giffin's usual light, breezy & fun romances. As a long time Giffin reader, I was really thrown for a loop when the story turned out to be more of a thought-provoking look at morality, ethics and the terrifying task of raising teenagers in a digital world. A great read for any Giffin fan to add to their collection.
Scarlett Gauthier 10 months ago
I have mixed feelings about this book. There were definitely good things that I liked about it, but I have some complaints as well. First, the good. I think this storyline is needed in the world today, showing that social media and teenage parties can have long-lasting consequences. That something that seems innocent in the moment can actually be very serious. I also thought the characters were mostly likable, including the three main perspectives, Nina, Tom, and Lyla. It was a quick read that kept me engaged throughout, and there were some twists along the way that did surprise me. However, I feel like the author wanted to make a point about too many topics, social media, materialism, privilege, racism, suicide, drinking, marriage/divorce, morals. This made the storyline somewhat disjointed, and I think if it would have been slimmed down a little to a few issues, specifically the main ones of social media and these privileged kids, it would have been a more enjoyable story. Specifically I wish the Kirk and Nina storyline had been left out completely, because I feel like the audience this book should be for is teenagers, to see that actions have consequences, and yet that storyline makes a more adult book. So I'm really not sure what audience this book was aimed at, because I feel like adults are less likely to connect with the social media/teenage drinking storyline, but teenagers won't really connect with Nina and Kirk's storyline. I also felt like most of the characters, especially side characters, were kind of cliche. No one is that one-dimensional, and I especially felt this way about Kirk's character. It never showed his side of the story, and Kirk was always portrayed as a shallow rich guy that no one truly liked. I feel like exploring more of his personality and his good side, even if his general persona was the same, would just have given more depth to the story. Kirk is the main one that had this cliche problem, but I even feel that Tom's anger, Lyla's teenage dialogue, Beau and Finch's actions, Beatriz's party-girl attitude, and all of Nina's friends were cliche as well. Nina is the only character who felt really realistic throughout the whole thing. My last complaint is that I didn't really like the ending. I think because the author was trying to cram so many "big issues" into this book, she went one way with the storyline that made less sense than where it looked like she was going with it. As a result the actual ending fit more into a cliche characterization of one character in particular, when another direction with the story, where we thought it was going for most of the book, actually made more sense. This is vague, but I'm trying to describe it in a way that isn't spoilers. And one other small thing, not exactly a complaint about the story, just an observation, is that this book will become dated very quickly. It talks about Snapchat, Uber, Trump, Luke Bryan, and other things that no one will relate to in 10 years. This was not a bad book in any way. Just average to me. The storyline was good and as I said before, very relevant and needed in today's world of social media. But there were a few problems that brought my rating down, although the characters and writing style were good enough that I'd still be interested in this author's books again.
Anonymous 11 months ago
GraceJReviewerlady More than 1 year ago
Despite looking forward to reading this book, I just couldn't get into it. When photos - indecent ones - appear on the internet of his daughter, it causes a lot of embarrassment and distress to both Lyla and her father. Nina, discovering that her son is the one who shared the pictures, is both of those things in addition to being very upset at the stupidity of a privileged lad who can't see that what he did is wrong and she struggles to understand why he could behave so appallingly. From being in the shadows, both Nina and Lyla find themselves tossed into a very unwelcome spotlight in the community. I don't know what it was with this one that made me struggle throughout; I can't put my finger on it. It's a competently written story, well-edited but it just didn't gel with me - didn't seem real enough perhaps. Whilst I realise it's fiction, it wasn't a story which captivated or made me care about the characters. I ploughed my way through, but was quite relieved as I stumbled towards the ending, which I thought was a bit rushed and unsatisfactory.  Due to the plaudits given to this 'best-selling author' I expect I'm out of step with many other readers and whilst it's a sound idea, it just didn't pan out for me. I realise it will probably be enjoyed by others, but it's not a novel I could recommend.
booklover6460 More than 1 year ago
I don’t even know where to start with my review of this book. The writing was good, the characters were well developed, but the story line was very emotionally upsetting. It’s not the author’s fault…it just was a little too real and made me angry that people would treat others in this way. I won’t get into the details because i don’t rehash the story line of books in my reviews or ruin the review with spoilers. Essentially, the relationships with the characters; the manipulations, racism, sense of entitlement, abuse of wealth, etc., and the lack of certain characters’ responsibility for their actions was difficult to swallow. I know it exists in today’s society, but I struggled with the emotional and physical pain that were experienced. Emily Giffin does a great job of drawing you into the lives of the characters. She has you thinking things are one way, but then twists it around so that you think they are going to end up another way, but then…are you right? I love when an author keeps me guessing. Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
vickeyu More than 1 year ago
Things Like This Happen Far Too Often The premise of this story, teenager on teenager assault, when one party isn't conscious of what is going on and the resulting electronic media fallout, is much too common these days. The author pulls you into the story on the first page and your stomach churns with each twist and turn. Although there is an acceptable ending, getting there is a roller coaster ride. No matter which side you take in the unfortunate incident, the fallout affects all of the players. As parents, we try to do what is best for your children but maybe, that isn't really what is best. This story illustrates how much we really don't know about the lives our teenagers are facing on a daily basis and how their actions can effect the rest of their lives!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While simple in plot line, the depth of the characters’ emotions will leave you contemplating this book long after you finish.