My husband read the dust cover synopsis of Anna Quindlen’s Every Last One when I was early in the book and asked, “So what’s the ‘shocking act of violence’?” Suddenly distressed, I couldn’t imagine anything out of the Latham family’s ordinary life changing. I was just enjoying the ride, watching their daily lives unfold.
You see, without fail, I read the synopsis on the dust cover of a library book or the back cover of a new purchase. And without fail, I instantly (and subconsciously) forget what it says. Maybe I want the story to reveal itself to me in its own way, not the predestined way it is being marketed to me. Maybe I’m just plain forgetful. Maybe there is some subconscious motive. Who knows?
Thanks to the novel’s stream of consciousness narration, I developed a soft spot in my heart for all the main characters: Alex (the popular, confident athlete), Max (the reclusive, mysterious musician), Ruby (the decidedly different, artsy writer), Glen (the all-around good guy and faithful husband), and Mary Beth (the mother, the voice of the book, and the heart of the family).
I had to take a moment (alright, more than a moment and a half a box of tissues) to emotionally process the “shocking act of violence.” Mentally, I ran through scenarios in my own family life… “What if…” or “How could…” And there it is, the author had me so deeply involved I could intellectually and passionately intertwine my life with that of the characters.
As I rode the emotional waves created by way of the natural flow of the Mary Beth’s voice, I landed at the end of the book tired, hopeful, and ever more joyful to be living my life. Good read.
Every Last One
Author: Anna Quindlen
Publication date: 2010