Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spotlight on: Every Last One

Dear blog, you've been neglected. The bookishness around here has been kind of lacking lately due to lack of time, food poisoning, and dull books. Just as I was a few months back, I've been setting books aside right and left. I'll read half the book and think 'Whatever. I'm so done with this.' and never go back. It's freeing, but leaves me little to say here.

This all leads me to a book that I plowed through last week, Every Last One: A Novelby Anna Quindlen. I even cried during the last 20 pages. I have to be honest here, I was already feeling weepy having just watched the film My Sister's Keeper (why oh why did they change the ending??) but still, I rarely cry at books. I go way back with Anna Quindlen, back to another film, One True Thing and the book it was based on by Quindlen. I cried then too. Over the years I'm pretty sure I've read all of Quindlen's novels, her essays in Newsweek and her excellent non-fiction book about her love of reading. Until now, none of her novels have resonated with me in the way One True Thing did.

Every Last One is the story of Mary Beth and her family, husband Glen, daughter Ruby, and twin sons Max and Alex. Mary Beth lives the good-kind-of-ordinary life. It's stable and centered on her family, a little bit dull and ordinary though this family has had their problems and they are serious ones. Thus the first half of the novel passes, as we get to know this family, yet all the time we wait because we know that Something is going to happen. Something does happen and it's utterly horrifying and life-changing. The rest of the novel deals with the aftermath and how Mary Beth finds a way to go on. Brilliant writing aside, Quindlen is able to evoke human emotions in a very true and honest way. Every Last One is a devastating but excellent read.