Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard
Release Date – October 11, 2011
Publisher – HarperCollins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating- 8/10
**obtained from the publisher for an honest review**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Sara Shepard, the bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, delivers a powerful novel of family dreams, lies, and delusions. Everything We Ever Wanted begins with a phone call with allegations that rock an upper crust Philadelphia family to its very foundations, unlocking years of secrets and scandals that expose the serious flaws in outwardly perfect lives. A moving, intelligent, and unforgettable novel, Shepard’s Everything We Ever Wanted is exceptional contemporary women’s fiction that will be embraced by book clubs everywhere.
Sara Shepard is best known for her YA adult series Pretty Little Liars. When given the opportunity to read an adult novel by her I was very excited to do so. I think it takes something special to be able to write in multiple genres and for multiple categories.
We’ve all wanted things, and all hoped for things. What if you got everything you wanted? We have all also had preconceived expectations of what those things we want will be like. What if it ended up being nothing like what you expected it to be? This intense novel spotlights that and could make some people uncomfortable as a result.
The matriarch of the Bates-McAllister family, Sylvie, seems to have a perfect life; A good family, and a private school that her grandfather funded and built. However her husband has recently passed away and her adoptive son is now involved in a scandal at the school. We quickly learn that Sylvie’s perfect life has been unravelling for awhile, or maybe it was never as perfect as it appeared.
Her adopted son Scott is accused of encouraging hazing rituals on the sports team he coaches and seems to not grasp the consequences of his actions. Charles, the biological son of Sylvie and her late husband, is married to Joanna and has a new house in the suburbs. It’s what he feels he wants, and should have.
The theme of never being satisfied, or always wanting something different when we get what we had originally wanted is explored in each character. Sylvie wants closure on old family secrets, she wants the family she wished she had, and for things to be different. Joanna wants more than the life she has. She daydreamed about the Bates-McAllisters when she was younger and the reality was different than what she wanted. Her character always seemed restless and unhappy. Charles knows he is unhappy, even though he has what he thinks he wants. He knows Joanna is unhappy but can’t quite figure out what is bothering her. Scott has felt out of place in the family for quite a while and it’s something that got more pronounced as the years went on. He was always looking for something more, something he felt was missing.
The characters, instead of talking to each other, often make assumptions. They never really get to know the ‘real’ person and try to have people fit into who they think they are. They seem very real as a result.
The thing I love in writing is characters and Sara has created these flawed, realistic characters. The writing flowed well, and kept me turning the pages. There were enough twists and surprises to keep my entertained.
The story does not tie up nicely, and a lot is left unanswered. It mirrors real life where not everything is wrapped up perfectly, and not everything ends up happily resolved. If you are looking for a novel with flawed characters that just might make you look at yourself, I would recommend this book to you.