Bookmarks Issue: 
47-July-Aug-2010
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0

A-Every Last One.epsAnna Quindlen is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and the author of five best-selling novels. Her distinguished nonfiction works include A Short Guide to a Happy Life (2000) and How Reading Changed My Life (1998). Also Reviewed Rise and Shine ( 3.5 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2006).

The Story: In a comfortable suburban neighborhood, Mary Beth Latham lives the American Dream. She is content, for the most part, with her marriage to a prominent ophthalmologist, her budding landscape design business, and her role as a devoted mother to three teenage children. Distracted by the minutiae of everyday life, Mary Beth downplays the ominous signs that hint at trouble. Her daughter, Ruby, worries about a possessive ex-boyfriend, who takes pictures of her from afar, and her son, Max, long overshadowed by his more outgoing twin brother, starts to exhibit disturbing antisocial behavior. When a horrific event devastates their family, Mary Beth must create a new life from the shattered remnants of her old one.
Random House. 320 pages. $26. ISBN: 9781400065745

NY Times Book Review 4 of 5 Stars
"It would be unfair to reveal what happens to the Lathams, other than to say that tragedy of an outrageous, almost unbelievable, dimension strikes at the heart of the family. The events leading to this catastrophe, and then its painful aftermath, make for a spellbinding tale." Maggie Scarf

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 4 of 5 Stars
"Quindlen hits all the notes of reality that make parents question their decisions, judgments and the consequences of both. As difficult a story as Every Last One tells, it tells it with an honesty and openness hard to find in a lesser writer." Amanda St. Amand

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"It's a testament to Quindlen's character development and plotting that by the time disaster hits early in the new year, the catastrophic consequences of everyday actions are truly shocking. ... Quindlen succeeds at conveying the transience of everyday worries and the never-ending boundaries of a mother's love." Nancy Robertson

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Anna Quindlen's writing is like knitting; prose that wraps the reader in the warmth and familiarity of domestic life. ... Then, as in her novels Black and Blue and One True Thing, Quindlen starts to pull at the world she has knitted, and lets it unravel across the pages." Nicole Brodeur

USA Today 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Quindlen ... has a talent for gently, almost imperceptibly, setting the stage for what happens. ... Be prepared for a deluge of tears." Carol Memmott

Critical Summary

That something very bad is going to happen to the Latham family came as no great surprise to critics: the blurb on the book's jacket alerts readers very early to the impending tragedy. But Quindlen is a master at slowly infusing tension into ordinary family situations so that by the time the shoe finally drops, she leaves us utterly dumbstruck. Also noteworthy are Quindlen's brilliant, three-dimensional characterizations: even the teenagers--who could have been stereotypes in other hands--are fully realized, sympathetic figures. Overall, reviewers praised Every Last One as a mesmerizing family drama--and one that requires a steady supply of Kleenex.