Review: Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard

Title: Everything We Ever Wanted

Author: Sara Shepard

Genre/Pages: Fiction/336

Publisher: Harper Collins

Release Date: October 11, 2010

Rating: DNF (Did not finish–read 37%)

Source: Publisher via netGalley

Natalie’s 1-Sentence Synopsis:  Everything We Ever Wanted by Sara Shepard has earned the dubious distinction for being the first DNF of my book blogging career (and only the fourth DNF book of my whole life!)

From Amazon:

A 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. For Charles, Sylvie’s biological son, it dredges up a ghost from the past who is suddenly painfully present. For his wife Joanna, it forces her to reevaluate everything she’s hoped for in the golden Bates-McAllisters. And for Scott, it illuminates harsh truths about a world he has never truly felt himself a part of.

But for all the Bates-McAllisters, the call exposes a tangled web of secrets that ties the family together: the mystery of the school hazing, the event that tore Charles and Scott apart the night of their high school awards ceremony, and the intended recipient of a certain bracelet. 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?

Believe me when I tell you that when it comes to books, my tenacity knows almost no bounds.  I’ve soldiered through boring novels, hackneyed plots, and annoying characters in my career as a reader.  My mildly compulsive tendencies compel me to finish books I’m not enjoying, especially if I’ve accepted them for review.

While I’ve generally accepted this character flaw of mine, I’ve noticed other bloggers refusing to be bogged down by books that aren’t working for them–marking them DNF or publishing mini-reviews–and letting the books go.  Breaking up with a book has always gone against everything in my genetic makeup.  I’ve written posts about it and to this day am haunted by my failure with The Book Thief, a book I haven’t yet been able to finish despite a 2009 New Year’s resolution and the accolades and plaudits its garnered from friends, bloggers, and the media.

Several times over the summer and into the fall, I tried to get into Everything We Ever Wanted but met failure at every turn.  Many of my students are rabid Sara Shepard fans–the Pretty Little Liars books are ubiquitous in my girls’ backpacks and lockers–and I read a few of the PLL series and tried out (but didn’t love) The Lying Game. 

Despite my attempts, this book just didn’t work for me–it moved too slowly, I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, and just couldn’t muster up any interest in the plot–so I’m marking it DNF.

If you’ve read and reviewed this one, leave a comment and I’ll link your review here.     

Do you suffer from DNF guilt or is life too short to spend time on books you’re not enjoying?


  • At 2011.10.11 07:14, Sandy said:

    Oh girl, you and I must have been cut from the same cloth. I have had very few DNF’s in my life, maybe a few more than you but not many more. I totally believe in the idea that life is too short for bad books (or just books that aren’t meshing with where I am in my head) but I never listen to that advice. I would offer this up to you…listen to The Book Thief on audio. Seriously. It is PRECIOUS.
    Sandy´s last blog post ..Maine – J. Courtney Sullivan (Audio)

    • At 2011.10.11 23:27, Natalie said:

      too funny! i was the same way for ages–i didn’t heed the ‘life is too short for bad (to me) books–but am turning over a new leaf. there’s still hope for you. 🙂 as for the book thief on audio…i never thought about that but i do LOVE audio so it’s an idea!

    • At 2011.10.11 07:15, Kay said:

      I have a copy of this book, but haven’t picked it up yet. We’ll see how I fare when I get to it. As to DNF-guilt, I don’t have it too often. Maybe I used to, but not so much anymore. I do sometimes have a hard time putting down a book that many of my friends have lauded. I keep wondering what I’m missing. LOL
      Kay´s last blog post ..The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore

      • At 2011.10.11 08:53, Beth(bookaholicmom) said:

        I used to finish every book I started. Not anymore! If it isn’t working for me, I will put it down and more times than not, will never pick it up again. I used to feel guilty but I have gotten over that.
        Beth(bookaholicmom)´s last blog post ..Mailbox Monday October 10

        • At 2011.10.11 23:28, Natalie said:

          well, i’m hoping that this lingering guilt dissipates soon! must have been my italian catholic upbringing. lol.

        • At 2011.10.11 10:48, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

          I so understand your need to finish books, because I’m the say way. It’s like I’ve made a commitment to a book once I’ve cracked open the cover. Sorry this one didn’t work for you.
          bermudaonion (Kathy)´s last blog post ..Moneyball

          • At 2011.10.11 11:11, Jac @ For Love And Books said:

            I haven’t yet started this one, I’ve gotten it from Netgalley, but was slogging my way through the Dark Tower by Stephen King. (A series I love, but am struggling to read – oddly!) Now? I don’t DNF books; I try to push my way to the end. (The Book Thief is the lone DNF book, to be completely honest.) And now I’m nervous for Everything We Ever Wanted, because I seem to agree with you on most book fronts… *sigh*
            Jac @ For Love And Books´s last blog post ..Top Ten Tuesday

            • At 2011.10.11 23:30, Natalie said:

              i hope that you love everything we ever wanted because other readers seem to. i’m not sure why this one just wasn’t a fit for me, but i’m glad i didn’t push through. enjoy the stephen king–perfect for october. 🙂

            • At 2011.10.11 20:38, Jenners said:

              Forget this book … I’m just gobsmacked that you couldn’t finish The Book Thief. God I loved that book! But I’ll still be buddies with you, I suppose. : )
              Jenners´s last blog post ..Three Wonderful Things

              • At 2011.10.11 23:32, Natalie said:

                STOP! i know! i feel horrible and didn’t even want to admit i’d never finished it (or got past page 40) in the book thief. the whole planet loves the book and i can’t get into it. i’m going to try audio like sandy suggested. i’ll keep you posted. also? gobsmacked? love it.

              • At 2011.10.13 14:07, Meg said:

                Eek! Sorry to hear you had a big ol’ DNF, but it sounds like you put forth a valiant effort to get through this one. I used to feel terrible about severing ties with books, but I’ve definitely gotten vigilant about dropping anything that wasn’t working for me. My bookcase is absolutely overflowing (like everyone’s), so I just keep thinking about the stories I could be enjoying instead of the drivel I’m stuck with. Reading is supposed to be relaxing! So I can’t stand it when it sucks.
                Meg´s last blog post ..Homecoming and the What Comes Next

                • At 2011.10.13 17:42, toothybooks said:

                  I hate to dnf a book too and i rarely do although there had been a couple of times where i put the book aside and tell myself that i’m just not in the mood for it and i’ll pick it up again later. i guess i fall somewhere in between on the spectrum. on one hand i do think life is too short and there’s way too many great books out there to waste time on a bad one, but on the other hand i hate dnf-ing a book and i also have fomo (fear of missing out). i try to finish every book i pick up, but there has been a couple of books here and there that i just couldn’t finish and i do feel slightly guilty about it.
                  toothybooks´s last blog post ..A Not So Wordless Wednesday

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