Sunday, July 18, 2010

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

In Every Last One, Mary Beth and her family were close and spent lots of time together. They were a normal family and did normal family things. And just like other families, they had their highs and lows. When Mary Beth’s son, Max, became depressed, she focused a little more on him than her other children. Then one day the unthinkable happens and Mary Beth is left to pick up the pieces. She not only has to come to terms with what happened, but she also has to try to carry on under the weight of unbearable circumstances.

I loved this book. Quindlen offers a beautifully written story about the strength of a woman and her undying love for her family. The novel revolves around Mary Beth, the mother and narrator, Glen, her husband, and their children Ruby, Alex and Max. There were a few other non-family characters that figured prominently in the story as well as a host of other minor characters. The story was appealing because the family was so ordinary and the tragedy was so extraordinary.

I knew something bad was going to happen by reading the inside of the dustcover. At first, I was a little distracted wondering when this unknown was going to happen. However, I soon settled into the story and loved all of the characters I was reading about. Then all of a sudden "it" happened. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach and hit over the head with a rock. I think I even said "NO!" out loud. I didn’t think it was possible, but it was worse than I had imagined. I had to read that section twice to make sure I understood what had happened.

All of the characters were great, but my favourite was Mary Beth. My heart really ached for her in the second part of the book. She was totally lost in her grief, yet she didn’t give up. It was interesting to see her thoughts and actions after her life was basically turned upside down. Quindlen did a great job in portraying all of that. I can’t really be sure of how I’d act in this situation, but I bet I would not have done as well as Mary Beth.

This is another book featuring twins; that makes the third one in a row for me. The other two are: The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen and The Wild Irish Sea by Loucinda McGary. This was totally unplanned. While I think it was interesting to see the different relationships (because I am a twin), I tend to shy away from books featuring twins or multiples. Anyway, I hope that’s the end of this streak for now.

Favourite quotes: a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear the most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, and about living a life we never dreamed we’d have to live, but find ourselves brave enough to try. (from the dustcover)

In the twin relationship, issues of difference can be even more significant than issues of sameness. (page 109) some peculiar and shameful way I think of my sons as two halves of a single whole, as though they were Siamese twins inextricably joined together by their differences.(page 59)

I've also read Blessings and Black and Blue by this author. I liked them both.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book or to browse and search inside, please visit the Random House website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit Anna Quindlen's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at Random House for this review copy.

Every Last One: A Novel by Anna Quindlin, Random House, ©2010. ISBN 9781400065745(Hardcover), 299p.


  1. Nice review Marie. I can't wait to read this one. I've read Black and Blue and One True Thing and loved them. I haven't read Blessings yet though. I'm glad you liked this one; it makes me even more anxious to get to it.

  2. Thanks Darlene. I read the other two so long ago, I don't remember too much about them. Mainly, just that I liked them. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did.


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