Everything We Ever Wanted

Everything We Ever Wanted

3.4 22
by Sara Shepard
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son, Scott, teaches. Allegations of Scott’s involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos and exposing a

Overview

Recently widowed mother of two, Sylvie Bates-McAllister finds her life upended by a late-night phone call from the headmaster of the prestigious private school founded by her grandfather where her adopted son, Scott, teaches. Allegations of Scott’s involvement in a hazing scandal cause a ripple effect, throwing the entire family into chaos and exposing a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together. The quest to unravel the truth takes the family on individual journeys across state lines, into hospitals, through the Pennsylvania woods, and face-to-face with the long-dormant question: What if the life you always planned for and dreamed of isn’t what you want after all?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
YA author Shepard (Pretty Little Liars) aims for adult readers with this expertly rendered novel of family dysfunction set in moneyed Main Line Philadelphia. Recently widowed Sylvie Bates-McAllister runs the board of directors at Swithin School, a prestigious prep school founded by her grandfather. When Sylvie learns that her adopted adult son, Scott, may be responsible for the hazing death of a student he coached on the school’s wrestling team, she fears the worst and worries about how the scandal will affect her family name. Sylvie’s biological son, Charles—estranged from his brother since an ugly incident on the night of their high school graduation—is more concerned with his marital troubles than the hazing scandal. Now living in the suburbs, Charles frets over wife Joanna’s growing restlessness. Joanna, meanwhile, feels excluded from the neighborhood clique and Charles’s relationship with his mother, as well as disappointed by her marriage into this supposedly perfect upper-class family. As Shepard moves through time and shifts between the perspectives of her main characters, the inner lives of the Bates-McAllisters resonate more than the actual plot. Readers will respond as this family grapples with their many long-held secrets. (Oct.)
Booklist
“Explor[ing] the complexity of family dynamics and heritage. . . . Shepard delves deeply into the differing emotions and moods aroused by family conflict.”
Closer (UK)
“Compelling and touching, this is a story with a difference—a real treat.”
Adriana Trigiani
“Sara Shepard delivers the perfect read with Everything We Ever Wanted. This is a delicious story loaded with mysterious twists and turns and a vault of secrets, that when revealed, will keep you turning pages long into the night. Sara is a brilliant storyteller.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard
“With unflinching honesty and unstinting compassion, Sara Shepard tells the story of a proud family, with the best intentions, who must face the hypocrisy of the past or lose any hope for saving the future.”
Sarah Mlynowski
“This riveting, provocative and well-crafted family drama surprised and delivered at every turn. I could not put it down.”
4 stars (UK) - Closer
"Compelling and touching, this is a story with a difference—a real treat."
4 stars (UK) Closer
“Compelling and touching, this is a story with a difference—a real treat.”
Kirkus Reviews

A contemporary portrait of the stultified life of Philadelphia's Main Lineelite.

The plot revolves around a possible school hazing scandal, but really Shepard's subject is the smashing silence and conformity required of the well-mannered life. Sylvie Bates-McAllister lives in Roderick, the Main Linemansion she inherited from her beloved grandfather. Despite raising her two boys in the house, it remains largely unchanged since her grandfather lived in it—along with the prep school he founded, Swithin, a testament to his greatness. Sylvie serves on the board of Swithin and is called one night when a student is found dead, the apparent victim of suicide. The boy was on the wrestling team her 30-year-old son Scott coaches; there are rumors of student hazing and the complicity of the coach. Sylvie believes the worst. Scott, adopted as a toddler, is of mixed race and has a strained relationship with Sylvie and her older, biological son Charles. Charles, a prim and quiet aspiring journalist, is Sylvie's favorite, but her late husband James doted on Scott, found in him an outsider he could identify with. Now that James is dead, Scott is more of a mystery than ever—he has a defiant swagger and tattoos and low-slung jeans—and Sylvie is simply embarrassed by him. Swirling around the breaking scandal are a variety of subplots—Charles' new wife Joanna (who as a girl kept a society page scrapbook featuring the public appearances of the Bates-McAllister family) is beginning to think her marriage is a misplaced fantasy. Charles is set to interview his high-school sweetheart Bronwyn, who has become a sort of back-to-the-land hippie in rural Pennsylvania. Sylvie becomes increasingly obsessed with the affair she believes her husband had. The strings are so tightly laced around this family that they are bound to break—when they do, old secrets reap surprising results.

Though the plot sometimes wanders and the "scandal" never seems urgent, Shepard has crafted a fine character study on the repressed lives of the American elite.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780007304493
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
09/28/2010

What People are saying about this

Sarah Mlynowski
“This riveting, provocative and well-crafted family drama surprised and delivered at every turn. I could not put it down.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard
“With unflinching honesty and unstinting compassion, Sara Shepard tells the story of a proud family, with the best intentions, who must face the hypocrisy of the past or lose any hope for saving the future.”

Meet the Author

Sara Shepard is the author of two New York Times bestselling series, Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, as well as the series The Perfectionists. She graduated from New York University and has an MFA from Brooklyn College.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Everything We Ever Wanted 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
1archi1 More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series. When I was given the opportunity to read Everything We Ever Wanted, published by HarperCollins, I jumped at the chance. Everything We Ever Wanted is about the the Bates-McAllister family who have the money and priviledge most people would love to have. Is it enough? Sylvie's youngest son, Scott, is accussed of hazing at the private school he coaches wrestling at. Not just any private school but THE private school. Sylvie's grandfather refurbished the school and brought it back to life. Surely her own son would never do something like that, or would he? Scott is her problem child, and keeps to himself but hazing, there is no way. Throughout, Everything We Ever Wanted, Sylvie starts to wonder: Does she really know her kids and her husband? Her perfect life doesn't seem so perfect after all. Through revelations of her own, Sylvie finally realizes that having everything isn't about wealth, money or a family name. Only once you find yourself can you then, truely then, have Everything We Ever Wanted.
anovelreview_blogspot_com More than 1 year ago
The first thing we learn is there has been a possible suicide at the prestigious school, Swithin. There is a shadow around the students' death, a possible hazing. Sylvie Bates-McAlister gets the call. As a board member, she isn't sure why she is being told about the incident until she realizes her son, Scott who is an assistant wrestling coach, will need to be questioned about his possible knowledge of hazing. You expect the story to move in the direction of a full investigation, but story isn't about the possible hazing but about the family. The chapters center on the private thoughts of Sylvie, her son Charles, and his wife Joanna-not Scott. Sylvie is a widow who is coping with her husband's infidelity and questioning whether Scott had anything to do with or knowledge of this boy being hazed. She seems to walk on egg shells around Scott-not comfortable in her own skin when he's around. Charles & Joanna are newlyweds whose marriage seems to be crumbling. For these characters are all functioning under the weight of their secrets, fears, and rumors. The first half of the book has very little forward movement, more of learning how each of them got to this point in time. As the story begins to move forward, the characters seem to grow further apart, as the secrets and fears of the past slowly come to light. The more we learn the darker their worlds' become. When I began reading this novel it seemed very dark. The description of the family home, Roderick, reminded me of Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher. The house almost seems to have a personality of its' own. I honestly did not relate or really care for any of the characters at first, but as I got to learn a little bit more about each of them I wanted to see how everything would play out. Shepard wrote each chapter designating it to Sylvie, Charles or Joanna. The chapters moved quickly and had me wanting to know more about each of them. In no time whatsoever, my opinions started to shift. The characters had so much emotional baggage (especially Sylvie and Charles), so as I read on I was very impressed by the depth of these characters. I loved how real the characters began to feel and interestingly found Scott to be so very one dimensional for most of the story. I would say the sudden change from Scott being a one dimensional character to suddenly being a very real three dimensional person was one of the best parts of the novel, and I personally thought this was a great book. When they begin to see Scott for who he truly is and was. The end of the book goes back to the house and the sameness. The house is the same as when Sylvie's grandfather lived there. Yet, they are all different. It's then they are no longer bound to the family heritage. I very much enjoyed this novel. It wasn't as much about a story as about people and I found it beautifully written and smart. I would recommend.
Shanella More than 1 year ago
This was my first introduction to Sara Shepard. I've heard of the success of her Pretty Little Liars and Lying Games series and while this is an adult novel, I thought I'd give it a try. The story is centered around a very dysfunctional family. Sylvie - the matriarch of the family - is awaken by a phone call. There is a death at the private school that her adopted son, Scott, works in as a wrestling coach. There is talk of hazing. Then the assumptions start; or, I should say continue. It's clear, from the beginning, that this family hardly talks to each other about anything substantial. Everyone assumes that Scott had something to do with the death of the student, yet, no one talks directly to him. The family history is shown through flashbacks from Sylvie and her biological son, Charles. Even in the flashbacks it's clear that there is no communication. Charles carries this attitude into his marriage with Joanna, who, while a little better than Sylvie, Scott and Charles, also makes a lot of assumptions. It seemed as though all the conflicts were centered around conjectures by one or more parties. It made for a very comedic tragedy in a sense, a reflection on a society that could sometimes be together, but yet be alone. I was a bit confused with the ending. There didn't seem to be any solid resolution and the last several chapters read as a very long epilogue. In the very end we finally hear Scott's point of view, which turns out to be a little anti-climactic. The story dragged in a few places and the conflict between Joanna and Charles was never resolved in the narrative, however, one can assume that they worked it out somehow. Overall I found that the story itself wasn't enough to engage me - most likely because of the lack of communication between the characters. Yet, there were a few subplots that were interesting enough to keep me turning the pages.
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
As a fan of Sara Shepard I am quite excited. Can't wait to read this one.
impressed48 More than 1 year ago
every PC possibility that could be addressed was. this was a rough one to finish, boring
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SammiiTX More than 1 year ago
I usually love Sara Shepard, I think she is an amazing writer and enjoy her books a lot. Except there was something about this book that I couldn't get through. It makes me extremely sad when I can't finish a book because it makes me feel like I'm letting down the author, and Yara from Once Upon a Twilight. I got about 70 pages in and the book just wasn't holding my attention. My thing with books is if they don't hold my attention by page 50, I'm done. I have given the book ample time to get interesting and captivate me, so if it doesn't then sorry! You're done! That's what happened with Everything We Ever Wanted. I couldn't follow the book and when I can't follow a book I get confused and give up. The beginning started out well enough, but I got the characters confused and the flashbacks were mixed in and all jumbled up. Or at least to me. The characters were very static. They didn't seem to have any motivations, just were dull and life-less. They acted like they didn't care about anything and were a happy go lucky family in an old creepy house. The synopsis had originally captured my attention. It seemed mysterious and interesting, but none of that was evident in the book. In the pages I read, they were just covering up everything and ignoring the White Elephant in the room. Thank you Yara for giving me the opportunity to read it. I might pick it up again at a later time, but for right now it doesn't interest me. In no way am I telling you not to read this book. It's not highly recommended by me and not my cup of tea. Remember that I am a book blogger and this is my opionion. It wasn't meant to hurt anyone and ~~Sam
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I forced myself to finish this book because I thought it would get better -- it didn't. I was bored with it much of the time. There were a few twists in the plot but they eventually fell flat. Not worth buying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was given an advance copy of Everything We Ever Wanted and could not put it down. Sara Shepard's adult fiction is every bit as good as, if not better than, her YA fiction. This book will not disappoint her fans and most likely introduce her writing to another generation of readers. Her earlier novel The Visibles is also excellent and definitely worth reading.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
This is the story of the Bathes-McAllister family and how the family structure crumbles after the death of James, the father. Sylvie, his wife realizes that her friends are not really her friends and her relationships with her two sons (Charles and Scott) are strained. Charles and his wife Joanna have their own problems and Scott (who is adopted) is implicate din a death of a student. Does it sound like a soap opera? Could be, but I thought it would be a family struggle to survive after one's death. Maybe it's that; I didn't care for the characters enough to be interested in what they do or their decisions. Not what I expected.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all her books and this one is the bomb
SaraO More than 1 year ago
This book exhausted me. So many troubled stories intertwined. Not troubled like drug abuse, or alcoholism, or literally crazy¿Troubled like, letting a misunderstanding, or letting a misperception of a person haunt you for life. Seriously, the Bates-McAllister family is living entombed in the Great-Grandfather¿s house. Like not one piece of silverware has changed in two generations. The mother, Sylvie is driven to maintain the life of her beloved Grandfather to the point of stifling growth in her own family. Her husband James died amongst a secret that may or may not have ruined their marriage [yet we stare at the key that could reveal all for THE ENTIRE BOOK]. Son Charles grew up with a lack of self-esteem complex that again, may have been solved had he looked around and gained insight. He marries Joanna who had previously been weirdly obsessed with the family and desires/despises the idea of being a Stepford wife. Finally, we have Scott the half black adopted child, who may simultaneously be the most perceptive character of the novel¿or the most messed up¿jury is still out. I can¿t even dredge up the enthusiasm to break down the multitude of intertwined themes and issues. About halfway through the book I was reading simply to attain an ending. Waiting for someone to confront someone else. Anyone else. Honestly, I respect Shepard¿s desire to portray real lives in this novel. I think she was going for an inner-workings-of-a-family thing. It didn¿t really work for me¿And I¿ll tell you why: 1. This is about a WASP-type family. The coolness between characters, while potentially accurate¿also caused most of their trouble. I found myself amazed that a family could grow up together and yet be so distant to each other. What mother knows so little about her children? 2. Nobody talked. Again WASP-accurate, but alienating. Once you know all the secrets behind the twists and turns you¿ll be railing against the book too! Geeze, if only someone had broken, if only someone had let a secret drop in a moment of anger, or understanding. How many years of life this family could have had! 3. The end, for me, was too little too late. Sure, everyone figures it out. Heck, the back cover gives that away. You know they¿ll all learn from their mistakes¿move down an unexpected, but happier path in life. But again, I have to reiterate: Too little, too late. I just don¿t believe everyone¿s neurosis were cleaned up in such short order that late in life. Nope. I don¿t. Ultimately, I don¿t mind struggling with a family. This book was talking about the minutia that drives all of our lives. All of our decisions. The book looked at how we view and interact with the world. The book was about a bunch of uptight people too self-involved to give it all up and have a little fun. Where was the vallium? The pill they give for Social Anxiety Disorder? I think Shepard took it too far. Allowed her characters to become too intense about such small issues. They weren¿t fully fleshed out. Each simply represented their problem¿and that was about it.
mommybooknerd More than 1 year ago
As many of you know I am a fan of Sara Shepard. I have read every book she has written and enjoyed them all. She is mostly known for being a YA author who has written the wildly popular Pretty Little Liars series and the newer series The Lying Game. Both series are now shows on ABC Family. Pretty Little Liars is about to wrap of their second season and The Lying Game has just begun this summer. Both of which I am hooked on. But she also has written two books outside the YA arena; The Visibles and Everything We Have Ever Wanted. My review today is about Everything We Have Ever Wanted. I was able to read a galley of the book through Net Galley. I just love that Shepard can fill my craving for juicy, page turning YA, as well as mature, thought provoking novels. Everything We Have Ever Wanted has a multifaceted story about family, history and love. About forging ahead after great and deep disappointment. I felt emotional tired after reading because I felt for the characters and their struggles. Sometimes things cannot be simply fixed, as is with life. Everything We Have Ever Wanted will not disappoint. Mrs Mommy Booknerd
Erin Smith More than 1 year ago
Hm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wendy Mass Sara Shepered
Valerie Gilleran More than 1 year ago
Woooooohooooooo