Anna Quindlen knows how to tell a story. You may not always feel comfortable while reading it - mothers die (One True Thing), domestic violence is rampant (Black and Blue), and painful coming-of-age choices must be made (Object Lessons) - but Quindlen is a master. Her characters' lives will draw you in ever time, but beware of the emotional punch.
I was prepared when I began reading Every Last One on a flight home from Florida last month. Other bloggers warned that an "unspeakable tragedy" was in store. I put the book away shortly before landing, certain the event was just pages away. The funny thing is that once I got home, I avoided the book for days. I needed extra time to brace myself, but then the rest of the book flew by just as quickly.
The first half focused on Mary Beth Latham's seemingly perfect life - great husband, three kids, a beautiful home, and her own landscaping business. Sure there are the trials of daily living, but overall things are pretty good. Half way through the book, something horrible happens. The rest is all about surviving, putting your life back together as best you can, and facing the next day. It was easy to empathize with Mary Beth, but something about her rubbed me the wrong way.
Returning to Quindlen's fiction after a nearly ten year hiatus has been a pleasure. Although I liked the first half much better than the second, Every Last One definitely met my expectations. A recommended read.