Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

Published in 2010. 299 pages.

First lines: This is my life: The alarm goes off at five-thirty with the murmuring of a public-radio announcer, telling me that there has been a coup in Chad, a tornado in Texas. My husband stirs briefly next to me, turns over, blinks, and falls back to sleep for another hour. My robe lies at the foot of the bed, printed cotton in the summer, tufted chenille for the cold. The coffeemaker comes on in the kitchen below as I leave the bathroom, go downstairs in bare feet, pause to put away a pair of boots left splayed in the downstairs back hallway and to lift the newspaper from the back step.

Last lines: This is my life. I am trying.

It had been some time since I'd read an Anna Quindlen novel, although I remembered those I'd read favorably. In June I'd put Every Last One on my to-read list - I think because my sister added it to her to-read list on goodreads - but it was Florinda's review at the end of July that prompted me to check the book out from the library and actually read it rather than just leave it on my ever-lengthening to-read list for some undetermined date in the future. What a great decision!

Quindlen's writing is simply beautiful. Here is a favorite passage:

You can't plan them, although I suppose those people who meditate and practice yoga think you can, but there are those moments when we experience physical happiness despite ourselves, before our minds remind us of the reasons we shouldn't. A slight breeze, a warming sun, a little bird music: Your senses say something before your good sense says something different. if only we could be creatures of the body more often. [page 276]

The story is evocative. I think every mother will be able to understand the worries and the joys that Mary Beth Latham finds through her relationships with her children. While I recommend that the book be read without much prior knowledge of the plot, I offer this edited version of a passage to which I definitely relate:
The dead place is still inside me because Nancy has said aloud only what has been a whisper ever since I half woke in the hospital. Now it is screaming, the voice that says [something bad happened] because I was not careful enough, attentive enough, good enough, awake enough. Not enough. [page 215]



  1. I'm not sure if I'm going to like this one or not, but it's on my iPod waiting for me. Glad to see that it was a success for you.

  2. I really enjoyed (can that be possible?) this book...I felt like it was fairly predictible, but AQ's writting was stunning.

  3. I haven't read anything but this author but I think I should. Thanks for the review!