Reviews for All We Ever Wanted

by Emily Giffin

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The latest from Giffin (First Comes Love) tells the stories of Nina, a middle-aged, ultra-wealthy philanthropist, and 16-year-old Lyla, a scholarship student at the exclusive private school that Nina's son Finch attends. At a party, Lyla passes out drunk and an explicit, racially charged photo of her circulates. Finch is accused of taking the photo, resulting in his acceptance to Princeton being withdrawn. Sophomore Lyla has a crush on senior Finch and wants the whole thing dropped. Nina loves her son, but the situation brings up a long-buried memory of date rape from her university days, so she sympathizes with Lyla and contacts her and her single father, Tom. As the story unfolds, it is not clear who actually took the photo, who sent it, who is guilty, and who deserves loyalty. Along the lines of William Landay's Defending Jacob, with a parent who is horrified at what their child might have done but still loves them, the story delves further into sexual assault as well as issues of class and how much privilege accrues to the extremely wealthy. VERDICT A compelling family story that brings up plenty of issues ripe for book group discussions. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]-Jan Marry, Lanexa, VA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Giffin's stellar latest (following First Comes Love), set in Nashville, concerns the wealthy Brownings and the scandal that ensues when their Princeton-bound son Finch appears to have taken a racy photo of Lyla Volpe, a high school sophomore on scholarship at the prestigious Windsor Academy. Nina's husband Kirk grew up with money, and they're richer than ever now that he's sold his tech company. Though he's confident and charming, Nina's starting to question his character-especially when Kirk doesn't want high school senior Finch to face the consequences of the photo of Lyla unconscious and exposed at a party. Though it's not revealed until later in the book who took the photo, it gets widely spread around, and the fallout is substantial. Nina wants Finch to be a good person above all, and she bristles when she learns that Kirk tried to bribe Lyla's father, Tom, to drop the issue with the school. Nina tries to right things with Tom, a carpenter who also drives an Uber to make extra cash. Tom has a huge chip on his shoulder that's exacerbated by the stresses of single parenthood, but he finds himself liking Nina despite her wealth. Meanwhile, Finch starts dating Lyla and tells her that he's covering for the person who really took the photo. Things come to a head as Nina attempts to find out whether her son is honorable or as untrustworthy as his father. Giffin's plot touches on social class and misogyny while delivering an excellent page-turning story. This satisfying novel will appeal to readers looking for a nuanced, thoughtful take on family and social dynamics. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

New York Times bestselling author Giffin (First Comes Love, 2016) tackles the topics of race, sexual assault, and class in her latest. Nina Browning is the crème de la crème of Nashville high society beautiful, smart, and married to one of the richest men in the city. Raised in middle-class Bristol, Nina hopes that she has instilled humble values in her teenage son Finch values that her old-money husband appears to lack. But when Finch is accused of taking and sending an explicit photo of an unconscious Latina coed, Nina wonders if she has failed her son and, ultimately, herself. Using the points of view of Nina, Lyla (the girl in the photograph), and Lyla's father, Tom, Giffin weaves a story of what parents will do to protect their children, even if it's from themselves. But the story lacks authenticity and sincerity. The author's attempts to call out white privilege fall a little flat, which may disappoint new readers, though longtime fans will appreciate her beach-read style exploration of serious issues.--Wathen, LynnDee Copyright 2018 Booklist