All We Ever Wanted – Emily Giffin

Already a New York Times bestseller and one of the most talked-about books of the year, this is a gripping novel about second chances, dark family secrets and how it’s never too late to be the person you want to be.

About the book: 

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

About the Author: Emily Giffin graduated from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia School of Law. She practiced law in New York City for several years before moving to London, where she began writing full time. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband, two sons and a daughter.

My Review: First up, I started reading this book because I’d seen it recommended on my FB book club and it wasn’t until I was over half-way through and I went to update my Goodreads App that I realised this wasn’t the book everyone was discussing, although the title and the author’s names were very, very similar – however by this point in the story I was so engrossed it didn’t matter!

All We Ever Wanted is a really interested, thought provoking tale of today’s teenagers, social media and how far we as parents will go to protect our children.  This story touched me as a parent of teenagers and having once (a long long long time ago), been a teenager wild child myself.

The story is narrated through the three main characters; Nina Browning, an exceptionally wealthy married mother of one teenage son, Finch who lives in Nashville surrounded by opulence and luxury and a husband who believes everything can be fixed by money.  Tom Volpe, the single dad raising his teenage daughter Lyla who has a full scholarship to the prestigious Windsor Academy where she is surrounded by entitled and often spoilt students and Lyla, the headstrong teenager who finds herself in the centre of a scandal and caught between her father’s fury and her own embarrassment.

Throughout the story, I was constantly questioning both parents behaviour and action – what would I do in that situation? do I agree or sympathise with Nina – is Tom overreacting or if it were my daughter in a compromising situation would I act the same?

This is a fascinating story of wealth, power, entitlement, self-respect and family values.  I would definitely recommend it to parents and young adults.


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