Title: Everything We Ever Wanted
Author: Sara Shepard
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: ARC Tour
From the Publisher: Recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son, Scott, teaches. Allegations of Scott’s involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos and exposing a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together. The quest to unravel the truth takes the family on individual journeys across state lines, into hospitals, through the Pennsylvania woods, and face-to-face with the long-dormant question: What if the life you always planned for and dreamed of isn’t what you want after all?
When I signed up to review this one, I thought it would be a YA novel since everything I’ve ever known Sara Shepard to write has been of that genre – but this one wasn’t. I was surprised when I started reading it, enough so that I actually put it down for a few days before I picked it up again.
There are several different stories woven together throughout this novel – that of Sylvie’s youth, her marriage, Scott’s childhood, Charles’ youth and the way he interacted with his father, Charles and Joanna’s marriage, and of course the scandal surrounding Scott and the death of one of the young boys he coached. But despite everything going on, there are still only a few central themes. The primary theme is, of course, that just because you get what you thought you wanted doesn’t mean it was actually what you really wanted. Dreams can be fulfilled only for you to find that you weren’t dreaming for what you thought you were.
The secondary theme, and the one that spoke to me the most, is that anytime you look into your own head to determine what someone else has done or is doing, you are doing a grave disservice to both of you. Every single one of the conflicts in this novel could have been avoided if the characters had simply talked to one another. But they didn’t, and as a result years were wasted in this family’s life. Relationships were broken and never mended. Marriages ended, or nearly did. Happiness was but a distant thought.
All because each of these family members decided they knew what was really going on based on what they believed they saw or already knew.
It was painful for me to read because I saw myself within those pages, and it made me want to change. It’s rare that a novel will make me want to change and be a better person, so when it does I take notice. Sara Shepard did a fine job and wrote a spectacular novel – painful as it was to read.
Other reviews of Everything We Ever Wanted: