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All That Matters: A Novel

All That Matters: A Novel

4.6 15
by Jan Goldstein

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What's the greatest gift that one person can give another?

Jan Goldstein's stunning debut novel, All That Matters, is a deeply moving, endearing tale of a young woman who, with the help of her feisty grandmother, makes a journey from the very brink of death and despair into a full embrace of life.

Jennifer Stempler has nothing left to lose: the love


What's the greatest gift that one person can give another?

Jan Goldstein's stunning debut novel, All That Matters, is a deeply moving, endearing tale of a young woman who, with the help of her feisty grandmother, makes a journey from the very brink of death and despair into a full embrace of life.

Jennifer Stempler has nothing left to lose: the love of her life dumped her, her mother died in a senseless car accident five years ago, and her famous Hollywood producer father started a brand-new family—with no room in it for her. So, 23-year-old Jennifer decides to pursue peaceful (permanent) oblivion on the beach near her home in Venice, California, drifting on a lethal combination of Xanax and tequila. But she can't even get that right.

Jennifer's depression is no match for her Nana's determination. Gabby Zuckerman refuses to let her granddaughter self-destruct. With promises made to Jennifer's father and doctors, Gabby whisks Jennifer back to her home in New York City, intending to prove to Jennifer that her life cannot possibly be over yet. In fact, it has just begun. Through jaunts in Central Park to road trips to Maine, Gabby teaches Jennifer how to trust and hope again. And by relating her own tragic and heroic experience during the Nazi occupation of Poland, Gabby bestows upon Jennifer an understanding of her own life's value. But when Gabby reveals a secret—one that proves to be Jennifer's toughest challenge yet—Jennifer struggles to find out whether the gift will sustain her.

Combining the unabashedly heart-warming sentiment of Robert James Waller's The Bridges of Madison County or Nicholas Sparks's Message in a Bottle with the irreverent humor of Jennifer Weiner's In Her Shoes, Goldstein's All That Matters is an inspirational first novel that leads readers to the core of what matters in life—family, hope, and savoring each moment.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this sentimental, uplifting first novel by rabbi and self-help author Goldstein (Sacred Wounds; Life Can Be This Good), a suicidal young woman finds her bliss with the help of her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor. At 23, Jennifer thinks there's little to live for: her mother is dead, her Hollywood-producer father is busy with his picturesque new family, and her boyfriend has given her the boot. ("Phillip had been the white knight of her childhood fairy tales, the prince she long dreamed would rescue her from a life she had no wish to live.") Enter Gittel "Gabby" Zuckerman, to take Jennifer back with her to New York and make everything all right. Jennifer may not be particularly sympathetic or convincing as a depressive, but Gabby, for all her familiarity (twinkly eyes, "floating halo of white hair," indomitable spirit) is hard not to love. When she reveals to Jennifer how she met her husband and escaped the Nazis in Poland, the story (though often told in fiction) transcends clich and takes on some urgency. Elsewhere, there are clich s aplenty, but Goldstein unabashedly, effectively yanks readers' heartstrings and some of them will love it. Agent, Linda Chester. Literary Guild, BOMC, Doubleday and QPB selections. (Sept.) Forecast: Can you say Lifetime movie? But with the book's low price, good blurbs and uplifting message, you might also be able to say hit. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A feisty grandmother and Holocaust survivor takes charge of her suicidal grandchild. Twentysomething Jennifer, found unconscious on the beach in Venice, California, is rushed to the hospital; when she wakes up, she finds that her nana, Gabby, has flown from New York to be by her side. Jennifer's boyfriend, we learn, had asked her to move out, and as a result she'd taken what she hoped was a lethal dose of Xanax and alcohol. No one seemed to care about her: her father, with a new wife and baby, wasn't interested in her; and her mother had been killed in an accident on the way to Jennifer's high school graduation. As for Gabby, her lungs are shot from smoking-she's got bad emphysema-but she loves life and is determined to find good where she can. Haunted by her own past-she saw her parents and sister killed by the Nazis, went into hiding in a brave Polish woman's attic and, when betrayed, was saved by partisans-she is the more determined to ensure that Jennifer has a future. After persuading Jennifer's doctors-and her father, a Hollywood producer-that she can take care of the girl in New York and bring her back to health, the two fly east and Jennifer, reluctantly, moves in with Gabby. Initially, Jennifer resists help, but Gabby, despite her frail health, plans activities she hopes will cheer Jennifer: they clean stables, attend plays, walk in Central Park. Jennifer is still depressed and hasn't abandoned the idea of suicide, but Gabby has her own survival stratagems, including a car trip to Bar Harbor, Maine, a place that has long held special meaning for her. There, though her own health deteriorates, she makes a final pitch for Jennifer's life. Should have an emotional weight and impact,but Goldstein's first fails to move. Book-of-the-Month/Doubleday Book Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection. Agent: Linda Chester/Linda Chester Literary Agency

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.63(d)
Age Range:
13 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Jan Goldstein is an award-winning poet and playwright and the author of two works of non-fiction. He lives with his wife, Bonnie, and their family in Los Angeles. Find out more about Jan at www.jangoldstein.com.

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All That Matters 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
gluedtothepage More than 1 year ago
I actually found this book in a used bookstore and read it the same night in one sitting. I plan to give 4 copies to people for Christmas. I also think it would be an excellent book for counselors to have copies of for their suicidal/depressed patients. It is a beautiful story of love, and acceptance of life as imperfect yet worth hanging on to!
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Tl44 More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written story that touches you all the way to the core of your soul. The pacing is good. The characters are wonderful. It's a short book, but what it lacks in pages it makes up for in heart. I could not put it down and ended up finishing the same day I started.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read many great non-fiction novels, that I have loved, but this one leaves the reader wanting a more interesting writing style. It seems like the writer's storytelling style is extremely bland. The only drama in the story is in ridiculous scenes 'for example' where Nana and Jennifer are flinging horse crap at each other. Somebody to read who can tell a wonderful story is
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading the other reviews I expected more from this book. While I enjoyed the read, it just didn't capture me. It was a heartfelt story of the love of a grandmother. If you enjoy a short, simple read, this is the book for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never been more inspired to live my life after reading this book. She is heart felt and shares so much about her life. Many can relate, and whether you're a woman young or old-- you will enjoy this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a nice heartfelt story. We can't pick our family, so we just have to learn to love them no matter what, flaws and all. Learning about the past and embracing it, can help you deal with things in the present. Life is hard, but if you can find at least one person to have your back, when all is said and done, you can live and feel free. Freedom is wonderful. Everyone should have a copy of this novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The most moving fiction book I have ever read. I will purchase this book for everyone of my 4 adult children and hope they also see the value of family. I thank God for this wonderful opportunity.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simple. That's how I'd describe it in one word. This book is a great story but lacks details. I'd guess it's because this is not quite 200 pages. The story jumped right in to a suicide attempt that jumped right in to recovery. This recovery has got to be the quickest I've seen! Ok, I'm not an expert but this poor girl had some issues and then poof, she's cured. Or so that's what I took away from this. Or maybe she needed another tramatic experience to jolt her to life again. I don't really know, it just seemed a little 'out there.' I did love the 'fight' her and her grandmother had while cleaning the stables/arena. I found this laugh out loud funny! I will read more from this author, I just hope he dives a little deeper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the few books that spoke volumes in terms of how we all tend to focus on ourselves. Good lessons to be learned by everyone. I started this book at 3:00 in the afternoon and had to finish it the same night. Read it..you won't be sorry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read over 100 books in the course of a year. This is, by far, one of the most touching novels that I have ever read. It moved me in a way that doesn't happen often. Salute this author. She is awesome. Peggy - Norwood, MA
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pure Gold-stein is all I can say about this novel 'All That Matters'. I was so captivated by the mixture and depth of the main characters that when I completed it (In one afternoon)I immediately went on the net to see what else the author had written. I found his personal email at jangoldstein.com and asked him about his other writings. He told me that his previous books were non-fiction but he is almost finished with his 2nd full novel. I begged him to tell me the story line and he shared with me just a little but it was enough to know that this writer is going to be around for a long long time. Apparently his characters in 'All that Matters' are based loosely on real people. I read another review were it said that Gabby seemed to good to be true but guess what fans..she does exist. Well at least the person she was based on does and Jan told me that every year at Passover they read her story and that is what inspired him to write the book. I am not that big a sentimental person but when it comes to emotion 'All that Matters' mattered a lot more to me than 'The Note Book' which I thought tugged at the heart. Anyway I am off to tell all my friends about this book. God Bless, Angela
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I did not want to put it down. I love it's inspiring message. I went out and bought over 30 copies to give to my friends. I have now found out that some of them are going out to buy it to give to their friends!! This book will stay with you forever..a must read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A friend gave me this book for my birthday. I put it at my bedside table, thinking I could read myself to sleep. Once I began, I couldn't put it down until I reached the last page. At less than 200 pages, it sure packed an emotional wallop. I loved it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It brought me to tears, but not of sadness , tears of joy. Matthew Solomon
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was impossible to put down. I sat one lazy afternoon on my couch and read this beautiful story cover to cover. It ended with a good cry and a smile! I loved reading about this special bond between grandmother and granddaughter. I loved the fiestiness of the Grandma (Nana). She had so much to teach her granddaughter. A great read overall. I absolutely recommend this book.