All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
Published: June 26, 2018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Format: via NetGalley
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.
All We Ever Wanted is a very book of the moment. With the MeToo movement and social media’s effect on how we live our lives, All We Ever Wanted gives us the story of Layla who is at a party when photos of her were taken in compromising positions without her consent. What comes next is how she and the guy who is accused of taking the photos Finch react to what happened and how their parents see things differently than the teens do. Layla goes to rich private school with kids who have everything they could ever want. She doesn’t live that lifestyle, her single dad is doing his best and wanted her to have the best advantage in life so he was thrilled when she got a scholarship but he soon questions if putting her there has done more harm than good.
Nina and her husband live a great life and their son Finch never wants for anything but once they sell their company they have more money than they could imagine and soon Nina starts to wonder if it has changed them. She sees how her husband has changed and is scared if they have given Finch too much. He is spoiled and thinks he is untouchable so when she finds out he is accused of taking pictures of a girl without her consent she is scared she failed as a mom and more worried that her husband and Finch think it isn’t a big deal. Nina knows all too well that this is a big deal and realizes that while she has tried to suppress her past it's about to come to the surface.
I found this novel very on point. I found Nina very compassionate and while she loves her son she wants him to be punished for what he has done. She knows all too well that what he did is a huge deal even when he thinks it’s not. I found the reaction from Finch and Layla were real, teens today have no idea how their actions on social media are very important and that once something is out there it cant be taken back. This made me so mad at times, especially how Layla kept defending Finch because her crush on him made her believe he wouldn’t do that to her. I just wanted to shake this girl silly and scream about what he was doing!
I like how the parents Nina and Tom had a bond from the start. They understood one another and while nothing happened between them there was always something there, and that was so enduring to me. The respect between them was so magical that you wanted them together. All in all, this was one of my favorite Emily Giffin books, after The One & Only. I enjoyed the message and it speaks to what is happening in the world today. It shows us to take our social media habits more seriously and to realize what we do have consequences. This is one novel that is a must in today's society.