All You Never Wanted
Pub 10-2012, Knopf
Adele Griffin is the highly acclaimed author of works such as Sons of Liberty and Where I Want to Be, both National Book Award finalists. I’d never read any of her other books, so I was intrigued to read All You Never Wanted, a cautionary tale about sibling rivalry. While the plot was definitely interesting, the story itself wasn’t very satisfying.
The novel is told from the points of view of Alex and her younger sister, Thea. Thea is desperately jealous of Alex. She wants everything Alex has and more. Alex, meanwhile, is dealing with problems of her own, resulting from a failed internship at a fashion magazine. As Thea makes plans for a huge party, and Alex slowly begins to defeat the disorder that has held her captive for months, their lives change forever.
The plot in All You Never Wanted definitely drives forward. This novel is in no way, shape, or form dull. However, there are way too many loose ends that need to be tied up. Normally, a question or two at the end of a novel is something I can deal with. After all, leaving some answers up to the reader is a good thing. But when an entire plot point is left unresolved, I’m left with a feeling of resentment rather than a feeling of curiosity.
I also had a tough time connecting with the characters in All You Never Wanted. Though Griffin gives the reader a lot of background information, I didn’t feel like any of the characters were very well developed. Only Alex really changes at all throughout the book, and I honestly wasn’t a fan of the way she did so. This gave me a feeling of alienation as I read the novel. The desire to find out how Alex and Thea’s changes would clash at the end of the book kept me going, though.
Because of its weak characters and unresolved plot points, I can’t say that All You Never Wanted is a book I’d recommend. I know that it’s a cautionary tale, and cautionary tales aren’t really supposed to have happy endings, but I think Griffin could’ve at least answered some of the huge questions left in the open. So if cautionary tales are your thing, then go for it. But if not, then you’ll probably be disappointed.
- Rachel P., 17