*I received a digital ARC of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
All of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher is a story about three sisters, Esme, Liv, and Ru who live very separate, very complicated lives. All of that is about to change when for the first time in their adult lives, circumstances force them to converge on their childhood home and a mother who none of them ever felt they really knew.
What the three sisters don’t realize upon their return home is that their already complicated lives are about to be turned upside down yet again when they finally, for the first time, find out the truth about their father. Growing up, they’d always been told that he was a spy. When a mysterious box is washed up in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, they will finally have the opportunity to learn the truth about their parents– the good, the bad, and the ugly. What they find out will make the sisters question the very concept of their own realities and how they deal with life; Esme by survival, Liv by manipulation, and Ru by avoidance.
This one was tough for me. There were a lot of things I liked about All of Us and Everything, but there were also a lot of things that irked me. The novel starts off from Esme’s point of view, and the entire concept of the novel is introduced there. The first 20% or so was really difficult to get through and understand. It took me a long time to connect with the book and to make connections between the various characters that were mentioned.
Overall I did like the characters, although I didn’t necessarily love them. The three sisters were so vastly different, that any female reader would be hard-pressed not to see some of themselves in at least one, if not all of them. However, I felt like that although the characters certainly each had their demons, they were overall a bit shallow. I felt that more care could have been given to allow the characters to really “feel”–and the reader along with them. Much as I desperately wanted to, I found it exceedingly difficult to connect with and care about Esme, Liv, and Ru.
The exception to this was Esme’s daughter, Atty. Even though she doesn’t become a “major” entity until further along in the story, I felt that her character had the most depth throughout the entire novel. I laughed a lot while reading All of Us, and most of the time, it was because of her, her salty demeanor, and her obsession with tweeting.
The story itself had real promise and despite some clunky verbage and canned responses, it had enough twists and turns to keep me interested. My favorite parts of the novel were actually the ones that were entered in as sub-plots that didn’t have a profound effect on the novel itself. The story between the girls’ parents (sorry, no spoilers here) was absolutely enchanting. Their mother went from somebody that the sisters didn’t know and that the reader didn’t like, to one of the strongest, and most resilient characters in the novel.
And, of course, as it is a pre-requisite for women’s fiction, there were a couple love stories happening simultaneously in this novel. There was one in particular (again, no spoilers) that I absolutely loved; causing me to yell and scream at the parties involved. It’s always a sign that I’m enjoying a book when I scare my husband.
Speaking of scaring my poor husband, I think he wanted to grab a helmet when I got to the epilogue of this novel. I have an issue with epilogues. They’re either perfect, or they make me angry. Unfortunately, this one was the latter. It was quick, short, and felt rushed. And on top of that, it didn’t satisfactorily answer all the questions I had upon finishing the body of the novel.
Despite its difficulties, I really did enjoy All of Us and Everything. It was a quick, easy, and somewhat quirky read. And, although the epilogue left something to be desired, the very last sentence of the book wrapped everything up so perfectly that it gave me that warm feeling you get when you drink a nice cup of hot cocoa- warmed, comforted, and satisfied.