What happens when two thirtysomething siblings relive the summer reading programs of their youth in an all-out battle of the books? The race is on as they read by the rules and keep tally on their logs to see who will be the ultimate reader by Labor Day 2010.

July 27, 2010

Every Last One, Anna Quindlen

Yup. I read a sad book. A terribly, horribly, intensely sad book. So far, the world continues to turn on its axis, but my eyes may forever be tinged red.

It's Anna Quindlen, so of course I knew she'd have some nice woman go through torturous grief, something that was both unbelievably unrealistic yet utterly possible at the same time. Quindlen's writing always brings the reader right in, so far in that you're shouting, "No! Stay away from him!" or "Slow down! Slow down! The roads are terrible!", even though it's the middle of the night and the kids and your husband are sound asleep and your screams (or sobs) will scare them. My mother warned me when I borrowed this book from her. "Are you sure about this?" she said, and I assured her that I could handle it.

By the third page, I began to have my doubts. Happy family (like me). Three kids (like me). Daughter the oldest (check). Twin boys (ditto). I started my internal chant, "Please, don't do anything to the kids."

Reading "Every Last One" is like opening a Jack-in-the-Box. Duh nah duh nah duh na-na-na-nah. OK, that chapter done, no one hurt yet. Duh nah duh nah duh na-nah. Potential dark things lurking, but everyone still fine. Duh nah duh nah duh na-na-na-nah. POP! Page 154 jumps out at you.

154 pages of waiting...for the monster under the bed, the creaking door, the shower curtain being pulled abruptly away. Oh Anna, you didn't. Oh Anna, you did.

Quindlen, as always, is a masterful storyteller with such strong writing that I was pulled along into the plot, feeling pain and relief for the characters as they struggled with their tragedy. I just hope that her next novel doesn't strike so close to home (hers, yours, or mine).


  1. Hard to believe it was the mid-80s when Anna's "Life in the 30s" column in the NYTimes was the "must read" of the day...how did 25 years pass in a flash????

  2. "Dark Places" definitely fits into the mounting dread, Jack-in-the-Box genre. That being said, I skimmed part of the first chapter of this online and couldn't get into it at all.