Monday, October 11, 2010

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Janelle Brown

Released: May 2009

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything is not all rainbows and ice cream sundaes as the cover of this novel depicts, but more closely resembles a train wreck that also catches on fire, blows up, and then drowns.

On the same day that already-rich housewife Janice Miller learns her husband's pharmaceutical company goes public, he leaves her. Meanwhile, Janice's daughter Margaret gets dumped by her Hollywood boyfriend and must re-examine her financial situation because her startup company has caused her to go bankrupt. Finally, Janice's teenage daughter Lizzie is dealing with her newfound popularity as the school slut. When all three women come together in this time of "tragedy", they eventually realize what must be done to get their lives back on the right track.

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything couldn't be farther from a happy bubble-gum and humorous chick-lit novel. As you read this novel, you'll find that it more closely resembles horror, or at least horrific drama when the characters manage to dig themselves farther into holes before they eventually manage to climb back out.

Janice gets herself involved in heavy drugs, and I'm not just talking pharmaceuticals or marijuana here. Margaret finds herself taking on humbling jobs and still cannot accept that her actor-boyfriend has broken things off, while Lizzie deals with the worst tragedy possible that can befall a young woman who has sex with multiple partners and no protection.

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything is interesting overall, but does have its slow moments. The beginning of the novel is very fetching and grabs you. I love the quote in chapter one on Janice and her husband's marriage as seen by Janice:

                       "She imagines their marriage as a pendulum: They have grazed the
                        bottom and are poised at the beginning of an upswing."

When haven't we had the same perspective on our own relationships or even careers?

I also love chapter one because it resembles Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, who prepares for the big party later that night by buying flowers and dinner fixings with a fresh outlook on life; such as what Janice feels after she learns she is about to become richer with the pharmaceutical company's success. If only the rest of the book held the same poise presented in chapter one.

I couldn't relate to All We Ever Wanted Was Everything at all. Sure -- we all have our low moments, but never have I ever thought about stooping as low as Janice or Lizzie even in my worst times. Margaret is by far the strongest character in the novel. It's also hard to relate to an already-rich family who must suddenly face making ends meet from a financial standpoint. Perhaps they should sell their crystal, or do their own nails, or move into a smaller house before seeking sympathy from others less fortunate. How will poor folks sympathize with these women?

I will honestly admit, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything has me intrigued enough to read Janelle Brown's latest title, This Is Where We Live (June 2010). Janelle Brown's style is very explicit, naked, and human and deserves further attention!

                                                       This Is Where We Live: A Novel

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