It’s typical, especially in smaller towns, for there to be a family that is revered above all others, whose wealth and legacy makes them seem special. The Bates-McAllisters are that family. Sylvie Bates-McAllister is the granddaughter of Charles Bates, founder of the private school Swithin, and she had also inherited the family estate Roderick, where she now lives as a middle aged widow. Sylvie and her deceased husband James have two adult sons, Charles and Scott. Charles is a meek man who keeps everything bottled up. He is recently married to Joanna and his new marriage is already showing cracks due to Charles’s unwillingness to open up.
Meanwhile, Scott has his own troubles. He is very a combative, caustic man, a lot of that owing to his adoption. While Charles is the biological son of James and Sylvie, Scott is not, and has always felt different because of it. Now Scott is coming under fire because of the apparent suicide of a student at Swithin, where Scott is a wrestling coach. The headmaster informs Sylvie that there is suspicion that there has been hazing on the wrestling team that may have instigated the suicide and that Scott may be involved in the hazing. All of a sudden, the reputation that has taken generations to build seems to be shattering right before Sylvie’s eyes.
Everything We Ever Wanted is told by three different people: Sylvie, Joanna and Charles. At first it was hard to see where the book was going and how the narration of all three characters fit together. It then started to become clear that the hazing situation, while being a major plot point, was just a fraction of what the book was about. Instead, it was a great expose on family as well as reputation and what is really important. Scott quickly became a sympathetic character. In fact, they all did, but his was the character that I felt the most towards. He went from being a despicable person to being someone that was tormented by his own demons. Scott had never been able to forge relationships with the people around him. He had always felt like an outcast, and that’s the way he was treated. It was sad; Sylvie had tried her hardest to be a good mother, but she let James dictate the way the bonds were formed in their household and her children suffered because of it. Everyone became a victim of the circumstances and it wasn’t until James had been dead a few months and the scandal hit that everyone was eventually able to break out of the cycle they had been trapped in and finally reach out to one another.
I was hesitant about this book for the first thirty pages or so. I couldn’t see myself caring about the characters and I was unsure of where the story would go. I am glad I put aside my doubts and kept on reading because this book actually exceeded my expectations. It was such a great look into the dynamic of a troubled family and I found myself thinking about it long after I turned the last page.
About Sara Shepard
Sara Shepard graduated from New York University and has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College. The author of the bestselling young adult books Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, as well as the adult novel The Visibles, She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and dogs.
Sara’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, October 11th: A Soul Unsung
Wednesday, October 12th: Life in Review
Thursday, October 13th: Books Like Breathing
Friday, October 14th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, October 17th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Tuesday, October 18th: Rundpinne
Wednesday, October 19th: Reviews By Lola
Thursday, October 20th: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
Monday, October 24th: Book Addiction
Tuesday, October 25th: Good Girl Gone Redneck
Wednesday, October 26th: In the Next Room
Thursday, October 27th: Colloquium
I received a copy of this book via the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my participation on this tour.