Book Review | All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

all we ever wanted

Book Description:

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton.

Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

In an age where pictures can be shared in seconds via social media and texting, and long-term repercussions are not considered, this story takes a very realistic scenario and plays it out with such fast-pace that it pulls you in and challenges everything you believe.  “White privilege” and minority stereotypes were addressed in this story and it was extremely well written, without being forceful toward a certain agenda.  Thankfully fiction stayed as fiction.

This story really made me feel all kinds of emotions: compassion, sympathy, anger, sadness, happiness, disgust. I loved the writing, as it was so incredibly vivid.  The characters were definitely realistic, even the teenage viewpoints and I felt like they weren’t forced.  The “uppity” status exemplified by Nina’s husband was sadly believable as well, and the conversations had between multiple parties flowed.

I really enjoyed the novel, didn’t mind thinking about the worst case scenario when it comes to consequences and actually think this book might be extremely relevant for mothers, fathers, and teenage children to read together to cause discussion.  I would definitely read another book by the same author anytime, and enjoyed this book, despite the raw scenes. It was refreshing to read something that was mature about a topic as severe as this one.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and I appreciate the opportunity to receive an advanced reader copy to do so. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review | Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers by Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard

Book cover

As a woman who is new to women’s ministry and just recently began teaching a class on the biblical view of forgiveness using Dr. David Stoop’s book, “Forgiving the Unforgivable”, it made perfect sense to review a book on this topic as well to incorporate into my lesson plans.  The payoff was more than I realized initially.  The more I read, the more I realized that not only did I need to share this material, but I needed to pray about applying it in my own life.

The book is written by two women, Leslie Fields, a wife and mother of six who struggled with her relationship with her biological father, and Dr. Jill Hubbard, who is a clinical psychologist and co-host of the New Life Live radio program.  Leslie shares bold testimony of her encounters and forgiveness stages with her father.  As if reading her deeply wounded personal account isn’t enough evidence of the need to forgive, she shares snippets of other peoples’ family issues and how they were or were not resolved.  Getting a glimpse into how other people view wounds and what they do with them, is proof of a universal need to give grace and forgiveness, which can be achieved humanly, however is not complete without Jesus.  Dr. Hubbard’s additional insights lead you into ten questions at the end of each chapter, to deepen your understanding of what the chapter material was and Scripture readings for application.

As I read and processed the questions, stories, testimonies, and outcomes, I realized this book should be in the pew rack along with our hymnals.  Though Scripture talks about forgiveness, and our churches address this area, many of us do not apply the mandate to our parents.  Leslie realizes this and explains in chapter eight that “…forgiveness requires remembrance.  We cannot confess and name what was done without memory.  Neither can we extinguish what happened in the past by simply pretending or denying it away.” (page 162).  The need to face the past, our perception of it, and grieve the memory is essential.

The biblical mandate from Jesus is that forgiveness is immediate.  We are not giving permission to hurt, but releasing the offender “from our hook and placing them on God’s hook.”  God will work out the details.  The justice for our injustice is His to claim.  I’ve learned over time that the step of obedience in this area, leads to peace from Jesus that calms the soul beyond comprehension.  Leslie and Jill confirm this truth, and invite you to read their stories.

Are you ready to take the next step in seeing the grace of God work in your life?  Pick up a copy of this book, grab a highlighter and your Bible and spend some time alone with God.  Your time will be greatly rewarded and you will not be disappointed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers ( book review bloggers program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 ( “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”