Everybody Has Everything [NOOK Book]

Overview

After years of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a child, Ana and James become parents overnight, when a terrible accident makes them guardians to 2½ year-old Finn. Suddenly, two people who were struggling to come to terms with childlessness are thrust into the opposite situation-responsible for a small toddler whose mother's survival is in question.

Finn's crash-landing in their tidy, urban lives throws into high relief some troubling truths about their deepest selves, both ...

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Everybody Has Everything

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Overview

After years of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a child, Ana and James become parents overnight, when a terrible accident makes them guardians to 2½ year-old Finn. Suddenly, two people who were struggling to come to terms with childlessness are thrust into the opposite situation-responsible for a small toddler whose mother's survival is in question.

Finn's crash-landing in their tidy, urban lives throws into high relief some troubling truths about their deepest selves, both separately and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often unasked question: Can everyone be a parent?

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Editorial Reviews

"6 Smart books for summer reading
"The unexpected story of a modern relationship that's not a romance at all (except maybe in the abstract), and a story of motherhood that turns expectations of what's 'natural' for women on its head. . . A novel (one of the only contemporary ones I've read) that takes on the very hard question of what it really means to men and women to parent and how that answer is (and shouldn't be) obvious, simple or the same for everyone."
From the Publisher
"Onstad's radiant novel is powered by gorgeous writing, a quietly propulsive plot, and an uncannily accurate rendering of the way love, lust, rage, and reconciliation ebb and flow in the life of a couple."—Real Simple

"The unexpected story of a modern relationship that's not a romance at all (except maybe in the abstract), and a story of motherhood that turns expectations of what's 'natural' for women on its head. . . A novel (one of the only contemporary ones I've read) that takes on the very hard question of what it really means to men and women to parent and how that answer is (and shouldn't be) obvious, simple or the same for everyone."—"6 Smart books for summer reading," Mother Nature Network

"With concise, elegant prose, the author presents an audacious look at a question no one is supposed to ask, namely, can everyone be parents? Or, more important, should they? Book clubs will find much to captivate them, as will fans of highbrow issue-driven fiction in the vein of Anita Shreve and Wally Lamb."—Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY, Library Journal (Starred Review)

"A fine novel about contemporary parenting and relationships."—Kirkus Reviews

"With a keen eye for details of the contemporary good life, Katrina Onstad precisely delineates the crack in the vase of what appears to be a happy marriage. This is a book that challenges conventional wisdom about love and parenting and rising to the occasion in a crisis. And there is no way to predict the next turn of its events, which makes it a delicious read."—Carol Anshaw, bestselling author of Carry the One

"Utterly rich, vivid and filled with urgency. I couldn't take my eyes off of these characters." —Kaui Hart Hemmings, bestselling author of The Descendants

"What an interesting, vivid, utterly modern novel Katrina Onstad has written. I love how intelligently and precisely she explores James and Ana's emotions around marriage, love, sex, work, ambition and parenthood. Everybody Has Everything made me both think and feel differently about my own life."—Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The House on Fortune Street

"Tenderly observed and elegantly drawn, Onstad's characters are true to the deep worries and tangential shifts of fate which often define modern life; they remind us of that life's ability to soothe, to hurt, and to heal."—Vincent Lam, author of The Headmaster's Wager

"Katrina Onstad's beautiful new novel is a clear-eyed look at an ordinary marriage under extraordinary pressure. Everybody Has Everything is about many things - family, friendship, responsibility, loss - but at its heart, it's about what happens when the person you love suddenly veers off in another direction. It is unflinching yet tender, gripping and lyrical and devastating. I can't stop thinking about it."—Lauren Fox, author of Friends Like Us and Still Life with Husband

"I inhaled every page, feeling gut-punched by a writer willing to tackle such taboo subjects as the ambivalence of motherhood, the catalytic nature of children, and the restlessness of marriage. There are no unearned tears, when I laughed or cried it was always for the same reason: painful recognition. I loved this book."—Lisa Gabriele, author of Tempting Faith DiNapoli and The Almost Archer Sisters

Lisa Gabriele
"I inhaled every page, feeling gut-punched by a writer willing to tackle such taboo subjects as the ambivalence of motherhood, the catalytic nature of children, and the restlessness of marriage. There are no unearned tears, when I laughed or cried it was always for the same reason: painful recognition. I loved this book."
Lauren Fox
"Katrina Onstad's beautiful new novel is a clear-eyed look at an ordinary marriage under extraordinary pressure. Everybody Has Everything is about many things - family, friendship, responsibility, loss - but at its heart, it's about what happens when the person you love suddenly veers off in another direction. It is unflinching yet tender, gripping and lyrical and devastating. I can't stop thinking about it."
Kaui Hart Hemmings
"Utterly rich, vivid and filled with urgency. I couldn't take my eyes off of these characters."
Carol Anshaw
"With a keen eye for details of the contemporary good life, Katrina Onstad precisely delineates the crack in the vase of what appears to be a happy marriage. This is a book that challenges conventional wisdom about love and parenting and rising to the occasion in a crisis. And there is no way to predict the next turn of its events, which makes it a delicious read."
Vincent Lam
"Tenderly observed and elegantly drawn, Onstad's characters are true to the deep worries and tangential shifts of fate which often define modern life; they remind us of that life's ability to soothe, to hurt, and to heal."
Margot Livesey
"What an interesting, vivid, utterly modern novel Katrina Onstad has written. I love how intelligently and precisely she explores James and Ana's emotions around marriage, love, sex, work, ambition and parenthood. Everybody Has Everything made me both think and feel differently about my own life."
Real Simple
"Onstad's radiant novel is powered by gorgeous writing, a quietly propulsive plot, and an uncannily accurate rendering of the way love, lust, rage, and reconciliation ebb and flow in the life of a couple."
Library Journal
Ana and James Ridgemore have spent two years and $30,000 trying to conceive, but in the end it takes them only one hour to become parents. When an accident claims the life of their friend Marcus, leaves his wife Sarah in a coma, and essentially orphans their son, Ana and James are appointed legal guardians of two-year-old Finn. Their orderly, privileged life is suddenly upended to the elation of James, who takes to parenting quickly, and the alarm of Ana, who does not. The family created by circumstance rather than through biology has been fodder for made-for-TV movies for decades, but Canadian journalist (and debut novelist) Onstad's take, both on unplanned parenthood and contemporary urban life, is crisp, gripping, and deeply thought-provoking. VERDICT With concise, elegant prose, the author presents an audacious look at a question no one is supposed to ask, namely, can everyone be parents? Or, more important, should they? Book clubs will find much to captivate them, as will fans of highbrow issue-driven fiction in the vein of Anita Shreve and Wally Lamb.—Jeanne Bogino, New Lebanon Lib., NY
Kirkus Reviews
Toronto-based journalist Onstad pens a novel that asks if everyone is cut out for parenthood. The book also addresses marital relationships in the modern world, in which both men and women are married to careers that define them. While Ana is rising in her career as a research lawyer in a major firm, her husband, James, a television journalist, has just been laid off and covers his unemployment status by telling people that he is writing a book. Ana and James have put a lot of time and considerable money into fertility treatments and testing without successfully bringing a child into their lives. Things change when they become guardians of 2-year-old Finn. Little Finn's mother, Sarah, is in a coma after being seriously injured in the car accident that killed Finn's father. The father's will specified that his friend James would be his child's guardian in the event of his death. James takes pleasure in being a loving, attentive father to Finn. Ana, on the other hand, is constantly worried about potential disasters and finds the responsibility overwhelming. Ultimately, she realizes she doesn't really want to be a mother but also that such a sentiment is not one a woman can easily express. The ending does not resolve all issues raised but does offer hope for a bright future. A fine novel about contemporary parenting and relationships.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455522934
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 111,435
  • File size: 458 KB

Meet the Author

KATRINA ONSTAD's first novel, How Happy to Be, was published to great acclaim in 2006. Her award-winning journalism has appeared in The New York Times MagazineThe Guardian, Elle, and Toronto Life. Katrina lives in Toronto, where she is a culture columnist for the Globe and Mail. Visit her at www.katrinaonstad.com

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Reading Group Guide

1. How do you understand the meaning of the novel’s title?

2. Consider the epigraph the author has chosen. What do you think she hopes you to take from it? How does is relate to the novel?

3. There are many poetic and musical references in the novel, and one song in particular plays a key role in the narrative. What do the various quotations tell us about the different characters in the novel who recall or recognize them? What do you think the author wishes to say through the use of that one key song? About Ana’s life, about James’s life, about life more generally?

4. Is this a particularly “urban” novel? Why or why not?

5. “How did you know?” Ana asks Sarah on page 57, about wanting to have a child. Whose side of the ensuing exchange made the most sense to you? Why could Ana not be honest with Sarah about when, or if, she herself “knew”?

6. How does James’s behaviour upend (or conform to) conventional notions of masculinity? At work? At home? With Finn? In what ways does Ana challenge the concept of femininity? How do these shifting gender roles affect the story?

7. At certain points, both Ana and James find themselves acutely aware of their age. What triggers this awareness in each of them? What does this awareness mean to each of them?

8. Neither Ana’s nor James’s mother quite fits the picture of an “ordinary mother.” Can you see people you know in either of them? In what ways?

9. Is it still a social taboo for a woman to resist motherhood? How does Ana experience society’s attitudes toward women who aren’t mothers? Is it possible for a female character to be sympathetic if she rejects motherhood?

10. How does the sudden presence of a child in James and Ana’s relationship foment marital discord, and flirtations with infidelity – or does it? To what extent is their marriage affected by parenthood?

11. What do you make of Ana’s flirtation with Charlie? What attracts her to him?

12. The final scene of the novel involves James telling Finn (and Ana) a story. How does this closing story-within-a-story relate to the novel as a whole?

13. What do you think the next chapter in life will be for Ana, for James, for Finn, for Sarah?

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