Title: All We Ever Wanted
Author: Emily Giffin
A camera clicks. A photo goes viral. And a community turns on itself.
Everyone’s seen the compromising photo of Lyla, a scholarship kid in a prestigious private school.
Everyone knows that Nina’s son, expensively groomed to succeed since childhood, took the photo.
And everyone thinks they know who to blame.
As events spiral out of control, Nina and Lyla – both outsiders in the elite social circle they inhabit – are drawn together in an unlikely bond of friendship.
Because this photograph has set them on a journey of self-discovery, one that is forcing them to question who they really are – and who they want to be.
All We Ever Wanted is a heartfelt story featuring a real mix of characters – some (well, many) that I hated and some great people mixed alongside them!
The story follows the events following a teenage party where a well-off boy, called Finch, takes a half-naked photo of a girl, Lyla, who’d passed out, along with a ‘slightly’ racist (the words of his charming father) caption, and it ends up being shared among most of the high school population. Lyla is half Brazilian and from a much less well-off family, so straight away this is very reminiscent of some sickening stories we’ve heard in the news (in real life) about upper class white boys committing offences, and not seeming to realise how much harm it causes – as they come from a place of privilege and ignorance.
I thought the story was really gripping; I really wanted justice for Lyla, even though she herself was naively blinded by Finch’s good looks and popularity, and I really liked her dad Tom and even his mum Nina, despite her flaws.
Some parts of the story I thought I could see coming a mile off, but it actually wasn’t as clear cut or as formulaic as I expected. There were still some grey areas and some doubts over personalities which only made the characters feel more realistic, and therefore kept me interested without feeling too dramatised.
I raced through this novel and thought it was an enjoyable and thought provoking read, particularly relevant considering the many similar stories we’ve unfortunately heard about on the news recently. Because All We Ever Wanted gives the perspective of Finch’s parents as well as Lyla’s dad, it feels fresh and relevant, as well as highlighting the emotional side effects of what may seem like a momentary ‘lapse of judgement’. Definitely food for thought.
Many thanks to Cornerstone for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.
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