Anna Quindlen captures the pulse of family interactions in a way that is realistic. The narrator can
be acutely self-aware without seeming whining or disdainful.
In "Every Last One," the story is narrated by Mary Beth Latham, mother of three. She has a
faithful, stoic husband, her own business in gardening, and yet, this mom is feeling the slightest
hints of emptiness, loneliness, as her children grow up and away.
The eldest, Ruby, is a writer. At seventeen, she is growing into a young woman known for her
quirks, her artistic temperament and her ability at school. Her private manners with her family,
however, reveal her to be as headstrong and rude and arrogant as any teen can be.
The twins, Alex and Max, are fraternal. They share very little except a room. Alex is the athlete;
Max is the musician. Alex is popular; Max is on the fringes of his school's society. They are not
exactly friends though they are brothers.
The book moves through family crisis and angst over Max's depression, Alex's cockiness, and
Ruby's insistence that parents just chill when it comes to her personal life. Her personal life
includes a lost-puppy boyfriend, Kiernan, who has a special place in the Latham household
although as readers we get to know a wide circle of people. Quindlen handles a large cast with
clarity and sympathy.
My only reservation about the book is a result of the back cover's blurb, which I felt contained an
unnecessary spoiler. For the pure enjoyment of watching a family that seems perfect but that is as
dysfunctional as any other, avoid reading the jacket blurb.
I am a big fan of Anna Quindlen's works. "Every Last One" is a quick read, full of emotional mo-
ments and insights into the way women bond and think. Some of the setting details seem thrown in
to perhaps update the story now and then, but big deal--this is a terrific book.
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