Every Last One

( 556 )

Overview

In this breathtaking and beautiful novel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions.
 
Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor.  Caring for ...

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Every Last One: A Novel

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Overview

In this breathtaking and beautiful novel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions.
 
Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor.  Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount.  And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible line of hope and healing that connects one human being with another. Ultimately, in the hands of Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing prose, Every Last One is a novel about facing every last one of the the things we fear most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, to live a life we never dreamed we’d have to live but must be brave enough to try.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Nancy Robertson
Anna Quindlen's new novel, Every Last One, packs an emotional punch similar to that of her previous bestsellers One True Thing and Black and Blue. Her ability to convey the mundanity of everyday life while also building suspense stems from her journalistic eye for detail…Quindlen succeeds at conveying the transience of everyday worries and the never-ending boundaries of a mother's love.
—The Washington Post
Maggie Scarf
…engrossing…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.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Library Journal
In her latest, Quindlen (Rise and Shine) once again plumbs the searing emotions of ordinary people caught in tragic circumstances. Mary Beth Latham is a happily married woman entirely devoted to her three teenaged children. When her talented daughter Ruby casually announces she's breaking up with her boyfriend Kirenan, a former neighbor who's become like family, Mary Beth is slightly alarmed, but soon distracted by her son Max, who's feeling overshadowed by his extroverted, athletic twin brother Alex. Quindlen's novel moves briskly, propelled by the small dramas of summer camp, proms, soccer games and neighbors, until the rejected Kirenan blindsides the Lathams, and the reader, with an incredible act of violence. Left with almost nothing, Mary Beth struggles to cope with loss and guilt, protect what she has left, and regain a sense of meaning. Quindlen is in classic form, with strong characters and precisely cadenced prose that builds in intensity.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
USAToday
Every Last One is about excruciating grief. It's about how people treat victims of violence, survivors' guilt, random blame and figuring out how to go on living.
From the Publisher
“Spellbinding.”—The New York Times Book Review

“In a tale that rings strikingly true, [Anna] Quindlen captures both the beauty and the breathtaking fragility of family life.”—People

“We come to love this family, because Quindlen makes their ordinary lives so fascinating.”—USA Today
 
“Packs an emotional punch.”—The Washington Post

Kirkus Reviews
Essayist and novelist Quindlen (Good Dog. Stay., 2007, etc.) tosses a grenade of murderous mayhem into the middle of an otherwise standard-issue novel of manners about an upper-middle-class community in Vermont. Mary Beth Latham, who runs a landscaping business, and her eye-doctor husband Glen are the parents of 14-year-old twins Alex and Max and 17-year-old Ruby. The first half of the novel is Mary Beth's self-deprecating yet vaguely self-congratulatory narration of her family's life. Mary Beth's marriage to dull but decent Glen continues on middle-aged simmer. Soccer star Alex is as popular in his way as self-confident iconoclast Ruby, who is past her little bout of anorexia. Only Max, geeky and socially awkward, seems to be struggling. Although he does seem to like his therapist-by coincidence a specialist in twins and a twin himself-his only friend is Ruby's boyfriend Kiernan. But Ruby has outgrown Kiernan, who continues to hang around the house mooning after her and adopting the Lathams as a surrogate family since his own parents' nasty divorce. Mary Beth deals with small business crises and her Mexican workman. She and her friends commiserate over their children, although not their marriages, in admirable if not quite believable rectitude. Then Kiernan, whose mental problems Mary Beth has either missed or ignored, although they'll seem pretty apparent to the reader, goes berserk and commits a horrendous act of violence against Mary Beth's family. Only Mary Beth and Alex survive, and the remainder of the book details their road to emotional recovery. Unfortunately, while Quindlen's a pro at writing about the quotidian details in the life of a bourgeois Everywoman like Mary Beth, the actual plot is hard to swallow. The murders are too obviously meant to shock. Mary Beth's guilt over a brief affair she had with Kiernan's womanizing dad years ago rings false. And the outpouring of support she receives from friends and family is too saccharinely redemptive. An unsatisfying mix of melodrama and the mundane. Author tour to Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812976885
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 175,251
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 5.16 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Quindlen

Anna Quindlen is the author of five bestselling novels (Rise and Shine, Blessings, Object Lessons, One True Thing, Black and Blue), and six nonfiction books (Being Perfect, Loud & Clear, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud, How Reading Changed My Life). She has also written two children's books (The Tree That Came to Stay, Happily Ever After). Her New York Times column "Public and Private" won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Her column now appears every other week in Newsweek.

Biography

Anna Quindlen could have settled onto a nice, lofty career plateau in the early 1990s, when she had won a Pulitzer Prize for her New York Times column; but she took an unconventional turn, and achieved a richer result.

Quindlen, the third woman to hold a place among the Times' Op-Ed columnists, had already published two successful collections of her work when she decided to leave the paper in 1995. But it was the two novels she had produced that led her to seek a future beyond her column.

Quindlen had a warm, if not entirely uncritical, reception as a novelist. Her first book, Object Lessons, focused on an Irish American family in suburban New York in the 1960s. It was a bestseller and a Times Notable Book of 1991, but was also criticized for not being as engaging as it could have been. One True Thing, Quindlen's exploration of an ambitious daughter's journey home to take care of her terminally ill mother, was stronger still—a heartbreaker that was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. But Quindlen's fiction clearly benefited from her decision to leave the Times. Three years after that controversial departure, she earned her best reviews yet with Black and Blue, a chronicle of escape from domestic abuse.

Quindlen's novels are thoughtful explorations centering on women who may not start out strong, but who ultimately find some core within themselves as a result of what happens in the story. Her nonfiction meditations—particularly A Short Guide to a Happy Life and her collection of "Life in the 30s" columns, Living Out Loud—often encourage this same transition, urging others to look within themselves and not get caught up in what society would plan for them. It's an approach Quindlen herself has obviously had success with.

Good To Know

To those who expressed surprise at Quindlen's apparent switch from columnist to novelist, the author points out that her first love was always fiction. She told fans in a Barnes & Noble.com chat, "I really only went into the newspaper business to support my fiction habit, but then discovered, first of all, that I loved reporting for its own sake and, second, that journalism would be invaluable experience for writing novels."

Quindlen joined Newsweek as a columnist in 1999. She began her career at the New York Post in 1974, jumping to the New York Times in 1977.

Quindlen's prowess as a columnist and prescriber of advice has made her a popular pick for commencement addresses, a sideline that ultimately inspired her 2000 title A Short Guide to a Happy Life. Quindlen's message tends to be a combination of stopping to smell the flowers and being true to yourself. Quindlen told students at Mount Holyoke in 1999, "Begin to say no to the Greek chorus that thinks it knows the parameters of a happy life when all it knows is the homogenization of human experience. Listen to that small voice from inside you, that tells you to go another way. George Eliot wrote, 'It is never too late to be what you might have been.' It is never too early, either. And it will make all the difference in the world."

Studying fiction at Barnard with the literary critic Elizabeth Hardwick, Quindlen's senior thesis was a collection of stories, one of which she sold to Seventeen magazine.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 8, 1952
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., Barnard College, 1974
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

This is my life: The alarm goes off at five-thirty with the murmuring of a public-radio announcer, telling me that there has been a coup in Chad, a tornado in Texas. My husband stirs briefly next to me, turns over, blinks, and falls back to sleep for another hour. My robe lies at the foot of the bed, printed cotton in the summer, tufted chenille for the cold. The coffeemaker comes on in the kitchen below as I leave the bathroom, go downstairs in bare feet, pause to put away a pair of boots left splayed in the downstairs back hallway and to lift the newspaper from the back step. The umber quarry tiles in the kitchen were a bad choice; they are always cold. I let the dog out of her kennel and put a cup of kibble in her bowl. I hate the early mornings, the suspended animation of the world outside, the veil of black and then the oppressive gray of the horizon along the hills outside the French doors. But it is the only time I can rest without sleeping, think without deciding, speak and hear my own voice. It is the only time I can be alone. Slightly less than an hour each weekday when no one makes demands.

Our bedroom is at the end of the hall, and sometimes as I pass I can hear the children breathing, each of them at rest as specific as they are awake. Alex inhales and exhales methodically, evenly, as though he were deep under the blanket of sleep even though he always kicks his covers askew, leaving one long leg, with its faint surgical scars, exposed to the night air. Across the room Max sputters, mutters, turns, and growls out a series of nonsense syllables. For more than a year when he was eleven, Max had a problem with sleepwalking. I would find him washing his hands at the bathroom sink or down in the kitchen, blinking blindly into the open refrigerator. But he stopped after his first summer at sleepaway camp.

Ruby croons, one high strangled note with each exhale. When she was younger, I worried that she had asthma. She sleeps on her back most of the time, the covers tucked securely across her chest, her hair fanned out on the pillows. It should be easy for her to slip from beneath the blanket and make her bed, but she never bothers unless I hector her.

I sit downstairs with coffee and the paper, staring out the window as my mind whirrs. At six-thirty I hear the shower come on in the master bath. Glen is awake and getting ready for work. At six-forty-five I pull the duvet off Ruby, who snatches it back and curls herself into it, larval, and says, “Ten more minutes.” At seven I lean over, first Alex, then Max, and bury my nose into their necks, beginning to smell the slightly pungent scent of male beneath the sweetness of child. “Okay, okay,” Alex says irritably. Max says nothing, just lurches from bed and begins to pull off an oversized T-shirt as he stumbles into the bathroom.

There is a line painted down the center of their room. Two years ago they came to me, at a loose end on a June afternoon, and demanded the right to choose their own colors. I was distracted, and I agreed. They did a neat job, measured carefully, put a tarp on the floor. Alex painted his side light blue, Max lime green. The other mothers say, “You won’t believe what Jonathan”—or Andrew or Peter—“told me about the twins’ room.” Maybe if the boys had been my first children I would have thought it was insane, too, but Ruby broke me in. She has a tower of soda cans against one wall of her bedroom. It is either an environmental statement or just one of those things you do when you are fifteen. Now that she is seventeen she has outgrown it, almost forgotten it, but because I made the mistake of asking early on when she would take it down she never has.

I open Ruby’s door, and although it doesn’t make a sound—she has oiled the hinges, I think, probably with baby oil or bath oil or something else nonsensically inappropriate, so we will not hear it creak in the nighttime—she says, “I’m up.” I stand there waiting, because if I take her word for it she will wrap herself in warmth again and fall into the long tunnel of sleep that only teenagers inhabit, halfway to coma or unconsciousness. “Mom, I’m up,” she shouts, and throws the bedclothes aside and begins to bundle her long wavy hair atop her head. “Can I get dressed in peace, please? For a change?” She makes it sound as though I constantly let a bleacher full of spectators gawk as she prepares to meet the day.

Only Glen emerges in the least bit cheerful, his suit jacket over one arm. He keeps his white coats at the office. They are professionally cleaned and pressed and smell lovely, like the cleanest of clean laundry. “Doctor Latham” is embroidered in blue script above his heart. From upstairs I can hear the clatter of the cereal into his bowl. He eats the same thing every morning, leaves for work at the same time. He wears either a blue or a yellow shirt, with either a striped tie or one with a small repeating pattern. Occasionally, a grateful patient gives him a tie as a gift, printed with tiny pairs of glasses, an eye chart, or even eyes themselves. He thanks these people sincerely but never wears them.

He is not tidy, but he knows where everything is: on which chair he left his briefcase, in what area of the kitchen counter he tossed his wallet. He does something with the corners of his mouth when things are not as they should be—when the dog is on the furniture, when the children and their friends make too much noise too late at night, when the red-wine glasses are in the white-wine glass rack. It has now pressed itself permanently into his expression, like the opposite of dimples.

“Please. Spare me,” says my friend Nancy, her eyes rolling. “If that’s the worst you can say about him, then you have absolutely no right to complain.” Nancy says her husband, Bill, a tall gangly scarecrow of a guy, leaves a trail of clothing as he undresses, like fairy-tale breadcrumbs. He once asked her where the washing machine was. “I thought it was a miracle that he wanted to know,” she says when she tells this story, and she does, often. “It turned out the repairman was at the door and Bill didn’t know where to tell him to go.”

Our washer is in the mudroom, off the kitchen. There is a chute from above that is designed to bring the dirty things downstairs. Over the years, our children have used the chute for backpacks, soccer balls, drumsticks. Slam. Slam. Slam. “It is a laundry chute,” I cry. “Laundry. Laundry.”

Laundry is my life, and meals, and school meetings and games and recitals. I choose a cardigan sweater and put it on the chest at the foot of the bed. It is late April, nominally spring, but the weather is as wild as an adolescent mood, sun into clouds into showers into storms into sun again.

“You smell,” I hear Alex say to Max from the hallway. Max refuses to reply. “You smell like shit,” Alex says. “Language!” I cry.

“I didn’t say a word,” Ruby shouts from behind the door of her room. Hangers slide along the rack in her closet, with a sound like one of those tribal musical instruments. Three thumps—shoes, I imagine. Her room always looks as though it has been ransacked. Her father averts his head from the closed door, as though he is imagining what lies within. Her brothers are strictly forbidden to go in there, and, honestly, are not interested. Piles of books, random sweaters, an upended shoulder bag, even the lace panties, given that they belong to their sister—who cares? I am tolerated because I deliver stacks of clean clothes. “Put those away in your drawers,” I always say, and she never does. It would be so much easier for me to do it myself, but this standoff has become a part of our relationship, my attempt to teach Ruby responsibility, her attempt to exhibit independence. And so much of our lives together consists of rubbing along, saying things we know will be ignored yet continuing to say them, like background music.

Somehow Ruby emerges every morning from the disorder of her room looking beautiful and distinctive: a pair of old Capri pants, a ruffled blouse I bought in college, a long cashmere cardigan with a moth hole in the sleeve, a ribbon tied around her hair. Ruby never looks like anyone else. I admire this and am a little intimidated by it, as though I had discovered we had incompatible blood types.

Alex wears a T-shirt and jeans. Max wears a T-shirt and jeans. Max stops to rub the dog’s belly when he gets to the kitchen. She narrows her eyes in ecstasy. Her name is Virginia, and she is nine years old. She came as a puppy when the twins were five and Ruby was eight. “Ginger” says the name on the terra-cotta bowl we bought on her first Christmas. Max scratches the base of Ginger’s tail. “Now you’ll smell like dog,” says Alex. The toaster pops with a sound like a toy gun. The refrigerator door closes. I need more toothpaste. Ruby has taken my toothpaste. “I’m going,” she yells from the back door. She has not eaten breakfast. She and her friends Rachel and Sarah will stop at the doughnut shop and get iced coffee and jelly doughnuts. Sarah swims competitively and can eat anything. “The metabolism of a hummingbird,” says my friend Nancy, who is Sarah’s mother, which is convenient for us both. Nancy is a biologist, a professor at the university, so I suppose she should know about metabolism. Rachel is a year older than the other two, and drives them to school. The three of them swear that Rachel drives safely and slowly. I know this isn’t true. I picture Rachel, moaning again about some boy she really, really likes but who is insensible to her attentions, steering with one hand, a doughnut in the other, taking a curve with a shrieking sound. Caution and nutrition are for adults. They are young, immortal.

“The bus!” Alex yells, and finally Max speaks. This is one of the headlines of our family life: Max speaks. “I’m coming,” he mumbles. “Take a sweatshirt,” I call. Either they don’t hear or they don’t care. I can see them with their backpacks getting on the middle-school bus. Alex always goes first.

“Do we have any jelly?” Glen asks. He knows where his own things are, but he has amnesia when it comes to community property. “It’s where it’s always been,” I say. “Open your eyes and look.” Then I take two jars of jelly off the shelf inside the refrigerator door and thump them on the table in front of him. I can manage only one morning manner, so I treat my husband like one of the children. He doesn’t seem to mind or even notice. He likes this moment, when the children have been there but are suddenly gone. The dog comes back into the room, her claws clicking on the tiled floor. “Don’t feed her,” I say, as I do every morning. In a few minutes, I hear the messy chewing sounds as Ginger eats a crust of English muffin. She makes a circuit of the house, then falls heavily at my feet.

After he has read the paper, Glen leaves for the office. He has early appointments one day a week and late ones three evenings, for schoolchildren and people with inflexible jobs. His office is in a small house a block from the hospital. He pulls his car out of the driveway and turns right onto our street every single morning. One day he turned left, and I almost ran out to call to him. I did open the front door, and discovered that a neighbor was retarring the driveway and a steamroller was blocking the road to the right. The neighbor waved. “Sorry for the inconvenience,” he called. I waved back.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Reading Group Guide

1. Before the unthinkable happens, the Lathams are like any other American family. Discuss Mary Beth and Glen, and their relationship, and then talk about Ruby, Max, Alex, and how they all relate to one another.
 
2. Mary Beth has a successful landscaping business, but she seems more focused on her family than anything else. Talk about Mary Beth as a mother, and discuss the relationships she has with each of her children. How are the relationships similar? Different?  What kind of relationship do they have?  Has Mary Beth focused on her children to the exclusion of her husband?
 
3. Female friendships are deeply important to Mary Beth throughout the novel, though her friendships change dramatically as her life changes. Discuss Mary Beth’s relationships with Alice, Nancy, Deborah (Kiernan’s mother), and Olivia.
 
4. As she thinks back to meeting Glen by chance at a college party decades earlier, Mary Beth reflects: “Our lives, so settled, so specific, are built on happenstance” (72). Do you agree that our lives are built on happenstance? Discuss this quote in the context of the novel.
 
5. Before the tragic events of New Year’s, Mary Beth spends a lot of her time looking forward. She likes to think about the lives her children will have in the future, and in what ways her family will grow and change. At the Halloween party, she thinks about future Halloween parties, and the jokes her grandchildren and children will make at her expense. Then, almost ominously, she thinks, “It’s only before the realities set in that we can treasure our delusions” (117). What do you make of this notion? Is she right?
 
6. As we read the novel, we know something awful is coming, but we don’t know quite what it will be. What did you think might happen to the Lathams? Did you, like Mary Beth, think Max might be behind the attacks on New Year’s at first? Talk about the events of that night, and discuss your reactions to the vicious crime.
 
7. Discuss Ruby’s relationship with Kiernan, and how (and why) it changes. Many people, especially Nancy, seem to think Mary Beth and Glen should have seen the warning signs regarding Kiernan’s increasingly disturbing behavior. Do you think Mary Beth and Glen could have done anything differently?
 
8. The police discover that Kiernan had been living above the Latham’s garage, and they find a disturbing photo montage of the family, with the words “HAPPY FAMILY” scrawled over the images of the Lathams. Mary Beth gets the reference to Anna Karenina, a novel Ruby and Kiernan studied in AP English. She thinks, “Ruby had been disdainful of Anna for leaving her son behind and choosing Vronsky instead. Kiernan has said she couldn’t help it, it was love that made her do it, love that made her leap in front of that speeding train, it was love that made people do things they wouldn’t do otherwise” (179). Talk about Kiernan’s motivations. Was it love that made him do something so awful? Madness? Drugs and alcohol? A combination of all of these things? Can we really ever know why people do such horrible things?
 
9. After New Year’s, Mary Beth’s life is clearly divided into the “before” and “after.” How does she change and adapt to her new life? What gives her the strength to pull through? Do you think she would have been able to go on with her life if she had lost Alex, too? Why or why not?
 
10. Quindlen does a magnificent job portraying Mary Beth’s unimaginable grief at the loss of her family. But she also shows how the loss affects others in the Latham’s circle. Discuss how Alice, Ruby’s friends Sarah and Rachel, Nancy, Mary Beth’s mother, Glen’s family, and others cope with the loss of the Lathams. Did anyone’s reactions surprise you? How and why?
 
11. Alex decides to go see Dr. Vagelos, the doctor who helped Max with his depression. And Dr. Vagelos reaches out to Mary Beth to help her and Alex deal with the loss of their family. Why do you think Mary Beth and Alex had such trouble talking to each other about what happened on New Year’s? Why is it important for them to have open communication?
 
12. Mary Beth explains that Alex was never very emotional, and that’s part of the reason she tried to be strong for him. Dr. Vagelos wisely tells her, “Sometimes children can get more attention because they seem to be in more need of attention. And then there are children who seem so self-possessed and competent that they seem to need less” (285). How does this statement relate to Ruby, Max, Alex, and Kiernan? Do you think Dr. Vagelos is right? Why or why not?
 
13. Mary Beth has always had a complicated relationship with her own mother. But her mother surprises her in many ways after New Year’s. She was the one who identified the bodies of Glen, Ruby, and Max, something Mary Beth doesn’t think she could have done. She tells Mary Beth that they looked like they were sleeping in the morgue. And then Mary Beth thinks, “My mother has done it. She has made me see what she wanted me to see. The one person who understands is the one person I never expected to understand me” (256). Discuss this sentiment.
 
14. Though it’s impossible to say that anything good can come from such a massive tragedy, Mary Beth forms a deep and satisfying friendship with Olivia after the death of her family. How do Olivia and Mary Beth help each other survive?
 
15. Similarly, Mary Beth and Alex start a new kind of relationship after losing their family. Discuss how their mother/son relationship changes, and what each learns about the other.
 
16. At the end of the novel, Mary Beth is settled in her new home, Alex seems to be doing ok, and together they are looking towards the future. When her mother asks how Mary Beth is holding up, she replies that she’s “trying,” and that is all she knows how to do. Discuss how Mary Beth has handled such a horrible tragedy, and what you make of her progress in starting a new life.
 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 556 )
Rating Distribution

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(187)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 557 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Powerful Book!

    This is going to be a hard book to review. I really don't want to give the story away because it has some shocking parts that really need to be felt. I have enjoyed other Anna Quindlen books- Blessings, One True Thing, and Black and Blue. Anna has a way to take us into situations that can be quite uncomfortable and makes one feel so many different emotions all at once. This book is no different.

    When the book begins we are introduced to Mary Beth Latham and her family: her husband Glen an ophthalmologist, her teenage twin sons Alex and Max, and her teenage daughter Ruby. They seem to have it all even though they are not the perfect family by any means. As Max suffers from depression, Mary Beth becomes concerned for him. She is so concerned for him that she does not see the impending doom about to happen.

    I had no idea what was going to happen in this book. I felt as shocked as the characters in the story. I could feel the confusion and gut wrenching pain that the characters felt. I knew Mary Beth's life was going to fall apart but I had no clue what was coming. When it did happen, I felt as though the wind was knocked out of my sails! I think it is great that an author can make a reader feel so much emotions with their words. The story is a book of tragedy and survival. How much can one person take and how do they go on and survive? It is quite an emotional roller coaster.

    I highly recommend this book. It touched me in a way that was quite surprising to me. When you finish this book you will want to not take life for granted and you will want to hug those around you. This is a book you not only read but experience! What a powerful book! It's a book you won't soon forget!

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Have a tissue box nearby

    I always love Ms. Quindlen's quirky characters and she does not disappoint here. We are introduced to a nice family, a great neighborhood of "normal" people. Ms. Quindlen gently reveals the cracks, and then the earthquake happens. Some of the characters will resonate with readers; we all know some families like those in the story. It can be very emotional at times, at least for me. I appreciate her style and her development of the story line. I might have wished for a different ending, but it was a satisfying read and I recommend it for women, mostly mothers. But remember the tissues.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    One to Make you Cry

    I read Anna Quindlen's Every Last One with a little bit of hesitation -- I wasn't sure how I would feel about this book since I was one of the few people who wasn't the biggest fan for Quindlen's very popular book, Rise and Shine. I know, I know. I was one of "them." Last weekend, I was on another flight coming back from Boston and I had just finished Raven Stole the Moon. I closed that book on the flight and thank goodness, I had Every Last One in my carry-on bag. Most of you all know that I cannot stand being on a plane when I've finished a book and then I'm stuck in the air with nothing to do but deal with all the "Bobs" out there. In this recent Quindlen release, Mary Beth Latham is married with 3 children and lives in the suburbs. Her husband is an optometrist and Mary Beth owns her own landscaping business, and although a bit flawed, life is, for the most part, good. Ruby, her oldest daughter is going to go off to college soon, and her twin boys have just entered high school -- Alex is incredibly athletic and popular, and Max is musically-inclined and a loner. Their house in the neighborhood is beautiful. They have two cars. They have a dog. Life is...fine. I opened up Every Last One and the first 100 pages threw me a bit for a loop -- I was drawn into it, but I just couldn't figure out why. Mary Beth's voice was so removed, almost like she was looking at her life through a camera and filming it -- distant, sad, disconnected. Usually something like this would frustrate me, but I couldn't stop reading it. And then the last half of the book happened, and I will not give one hint away. It's good. It's really, really good. I couldn't read certain pages without tearing up or my throat closing over, and I shuddered and gasped at everything. I cannot in good conscience give a thing away. Anna Quindlen has written with such an effortless manner to leave you completely stunned. With cunning ease, she has drawn you into the lives of one family in one town. And how quickly any one of us could be them. Do not pass by this one. Pick it up. Drink it in. Hug your family. http://coffeeandabookchick.blogspot.com

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2010

    Can't believe Anna Quindlen wrote this!

    This novel reads like a bad Danielle Steele novel. Anna Quindlen wrote this? hard to believe. Starts out so slow, and then so over the top with drama. Not believable. Just did not work for me. Come on anna, I know you can do better. I really did not care about the characters, I could barely remember who was who!

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome!

    Anna Quindlen does not disappoint with her latest novel. She writes the family dynamic, especially siblings, better than any author I know! I cried A LOT, but in the end I was left deeply satisfied.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    the ultimate compliment

    This book brought me to tears - which is highly unusual for me. Although not a huge fan of Ms. Quindlan's fictional work in the past (though I love, love, love her non-fiction and am hard-pressed to consider a Newsweek issue complete without her column), I will pay her the ultimate compliment here: This book taught me something about myself. By presenting her characters so clearly, especially Mary Beth Latham (like myself, a mother of three), I was able to confront some truths about humans in general and myself in particular, and perhaps I can grow from those realizations.

    Bravo, Ms. Quindlan!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2010

    disappointed by a reviewer

    I'm somewhere in the middle of the book. The great tragedy has not yet happened. The reviewers don't want to give it away. Then I get to one of the Anonymous readers, and in its very first sentence told what and who did it. Sometimes I read reviews to see if I might like the book and this about ruined it for me. I'll continue but after all the people not wanting to give it away, I lost some of my desire to read on.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    GOOD ONE TO CONTEMPLATE

    This is a compelling novel by a wonderful writer. As the book begins we meet the Latham family, a privileged middle class family, three children, calm, normal, every day living, then....Tragedy strikes. The inner turmoil, self-blame, and the rest of their lives to find their way and survive, because there is no other choice tells the rest of the tale. This is a story of strength and resilience and life needs to go on. A journey well worth the experience!

    Other books that gave me a sense of love, triumph, survival and lots to think about are EXPLOSION IN PARIS and SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME and BLACK AND BLUE (by this author)...

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    Better as a Bargain Book

    I bought this book for my summer reading list. I am an elementary teacher and like to spend my summers reading adult literature. This was my first read of the summer. It took me a while to get into the book. Too many characters and not an engaging beginning. It seemed like the diary of a suburban housewife. I knew something tragic would happen and I wouldn't say it was predictable, but it wasn't a shocker either. The ending wasn't what I was hoping for either.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    Hated it! Major Disappointment/don't waste your time and money on this one.

    This was a huge disappointment in that, initially, it read like the diary of a humdrum housewife of suburbia and the build up of the tragedy was contrived and obvious. It read like a long four part series from the Sunday paper. --A story that breaks your heart and leaves you feeling empty.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2010

    An overall good read

    As usual, Anna Quindlen delivers. Every Last One is an immensely readable book. The kind you do not want to put down, and you do finish in 24 hours.
    Two biggest pluses: Ms Quindlen can write. The prose flows, and you are never bored. This is where her background as a journalist really shows. You hang on every word. The other big plus in my opinion, is the characters: strong, capable women onto whom Ms Quindlen thrust the most unimaginable of situation. Yet, in her capable hands you belive it. This book will not resonate with guys, but for the 30 and 40 something women, devoted to well-written fiction, the book club types, this is clear home-run. The themes and characters, the vagaries of middle-age and life in general, and most of all, the mothers' devotion to family, are well recorded in this book. For those looking for deep meaning, or ground breaking themes - this is NOT it. But if you just want a good read, whose writing style and story do not insult one's intelligence, this is it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2011

    Take a pass on this one

    This could have been a fantastic story if it were told by a better writer. The author wastes half the book before she gets to the tragedy. I don't want to read novels to explore the mundane nature of our day-to-day lives and I don't think I'm alone in that opinion. Mary Beth was not likeable, there was really no reason to care about any of the characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2010

    Disappointing!

    Pre-ordered because she's one of my favorite authors! This one was such a letdown..I plowed through because I'm one of those who must finish a book once I start it, but really it should be be in the drugstore in the sleeping aids aisle!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    Another page turner by Anna Quindlen

    I have read almost "every last one" of Anna Quindlen's books and this one kept me reading to the last page.
    The Lathams were an ordinary family: father, Glen, was a dentist, mother, Mary Beth, had a lawn designing business and there were three children; Ruby, a teenager and her younger twin brothers, Max and Alex. They were very close for siblings. The twins, Max and Alex were very different except in looks and having the same birthday. Max liked to go to his room and play his drums and Alex was an athlete. Max resented the notoriety that Alex got for excelling in sports. Ruby was a teenager with many girlfriends and one boyfriend that the whole family seemed to like. A tragedy happened in the family and it tore them apart. Quindlen kept the drama going to the last page.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2010

    Although unrealistic, the drama of the plot is shocking enough to be intriguing.

    After the ditched boyfriend of the daughter of the Latham family goes on a killing spree and kills over half of the family, Mrs. Latham tries to put her life back on course. The characters are well developed and the all American family lives a dream like life. When daughter Ruby decides she wasnt to be free of long time boyfriend, he begins to stalk her. No one, family or friends, saw how far he would take his anger. During a New Year's Eve murder he takes out his fury on the family memebers. One surviving son and the mother try and rebuild their lives. A story of searching for inner strength evolves.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Shocking Family Story

    This story is an intense and shocking family drama which I enjoyed very much. Anna Quindlen's characters are very detailed and very real and seem quite like people with whom I have interacted in my forty years in the educational field. Having been a middle school vice-principal for fifteen years and dealing with thirteen to fifteen year olds everyday, I felt as if I knew these children and their emotions and problems were very common in that age range as well as with high school students. Anna Quindlen's descriptions of the marital situations of the parents is quite an honest picture of the stress of parenthood of today.
    The plot of the story involved me to the point where I read far into the night to finish the book. The shocking twist was so dramatic that I felt intense sympathy and empathy for the mother and this woman will stay with me for a long time. I recommend this book without reservation.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2010

    A brave novel that most Quindlen fans will appreciate

    This is one of the bravest novels that I have ever read and one of Quindlen's best in my opinion. Quindlen really goes there and writes about something that I think is every woman's greatest fear. I've read a lot of Quindlen, so I picked this up without knowing what it would be about. I'm glad that I didn't know what was coming (there was foreshadowing, but I didn't know exactly what would happen.) I really appreciate how she got me thinking that it was a certain type of story and then took it in a whole new direction. It gave the novel a sense of verisimilitude. Mary Beth's life is going in a certain direction, tragedy strikes, and she is left to make sense of it all. This novel has such authenticity that it's frightening. It's not for readers who prefer what I like to call "realistic fantasy" where the book is about real-life but everything is on the surface and like a Hollywood movie. It feels true, it feels real, and that is discomfiting. I felt hopeful for the characters at the end. It's a hard-won hope for them. An excellent book that will not disappoint.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Powerful and compelling!!

    This is powerfull and compelling. Mary Beth Latham isinteresting, active in her landscaping business, is the wife of a physician, and mother of a high school senior girl and twin 13-year-old boys. Tragedy turns her world upside down. Because the story is from Mary Beth's perspective, we are not given details about it itself, and while she is recovering physically, details are not clear due to her medications and the trauma. Gradually,she is able to accept that her life will never be the same again. She slowly rebuilds what is left of her life. This is an amazing, tearful, moving story of survival. Life! Ugh!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2010

    Absorbing...couldn't put it down

    Do we appreciate what we have? Can we ever anticipate the results of seemingly small decisions? Do we have the courage to live when all that we relied upon is taken away? Can we redeem ourselves simply by trying?
    This is a lovely book, with Quindlen"s exquisite ear for conversations between characters, that looks at all these questions.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    Good As It Gets

    For those who do not believe this is realistic, may I direct you to the Broadrick murders in San Diego, CA or the double murder in Ventura Harbor, CA. Ms. Quindlen has the keenest understanding of teenagers and how they relate to one another and to adults. Her female characters are fully developed to the point that I am sure I know these women. Her shortcoming in this story is the lack of character development for the husband. However, since the female character tells the story in the first person, and it is far, far more about her, the aforementioned flaw is acceptable. This is one heck of a great read...and it is torn right from the front pages of the news. Without giving too much away...the violence, the anger - properly directed, and that which is not, comprise reality...like it or not. Four Stars for Anna!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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