Every Last One
Mary Beth and Greg Latham have a picture perfect family:17-year-old Ruby, a talented writer; and twins Alex, a budding athlete, and Max, the drummer. Mary runs a successful landscaping business and Greg is a respected local doctor. Add to that their sprawling home in a small town, surround them with close friends, and top it all off with a retriever named Ginger … and any reader should be mightily convinced this kingdom will tumble.
While Quindlen doesn’t allow all the King’s horses to fall until halfway through the novel, the edges do start to crumble from the very first page. Mary Beth, it seems, is not quite so satisfied with this life, Max is withdrawn and perhaps depressed, and Ruby is head-strong and ready to break free from her overly-attached boyfriend Kiernan. But that’s life–seldom do we recognize the joyful beauty of our Everyday.
Until it’s gone, that is. And Quindlen brings down Mary Beth’s world in one swoop. As she tries to rebuild her life, Mary Beth relives a past that may indeed have contributed to the violent act that destroyed her–and she also must face the fact that she ignored too many warning signs along the way.
I love Quindlen for one main reason:her incredible ability to see family and children through the eyes of contemporary mothers. Professional mothers who sometimes put work before family. Moms who wonder about the durability of their marriages. Mommies who doubt their ability to meet their children’s needs. Mothers who worry. Incessantly.
I was impatient for the “shocking act of violence” the novel’s blurb promised and I saw it lurking behind all the wrong places. But I took away the gentle assurance that we choose the families we live in–and must embrace our Everydays.
Next up: Illumination by Kevin Brockmier. Imagine a world where every hurt and injury shines with light. Can’t put it down.