I wasn’t sure what to expect with Every Last One. I could tell from the Amazon reviews that knowing anything except for the basic plot could really spoil the impact of the story, but I think its safe to say that it is a book of two halves – with a tragic event in the middle, which came as a total shock to me (as it seems to have done to other readers).
This is the story of the Latham family, told from the perspective of Mary Beth Latham,mother, wife, businesswoman, friend, all of those things and so much more. I really liked her – can you tell? It’s a picture of a happy family life, not perfect by any means (which is great because I don’t believe any family is perfect, we all have our oddities and tensions and skeletons) but generally pretty good, a couple who care for each other and their three children, all teenagers. We get a very clear picture of their family dynamic and as the eldest of three and the only girl I especially enjoyed the interaction between the Latham daughter and her younger brothers. And then something awful happens and the tone and focus of the book changes.
Some reviewers found this jarring and are divided between whether the first or second parts of the book are better or whatever, but I have to say I thought the whole thing was quite remarkable and I cried solidly during huge chunks of this relatively short book and especially at the end. I often cry at books and films but when I talk about crying here I mean real, genuine sobbing and I felt bereft when I finished it. I have thought about it a great deal since I read it, one of those that pops into your head when you least expect it.
Some will be cynical about the whole thing, others will wonder what all the fuss was about, but I thought this was great and it was one of the top reads of my holiday, and also one of the few e-books I’ve read so far (admittedly there aren’t that many I’ve finished) that I have seriously considered getting in hard copy.
The blurb on the back of the book gave a pretty skewed impression of where this was going to put all of that out of your mind. But if you give this one a try just make sure there are tissues near at hand. I wasn’t prepared and the puffy pink eyes and running nose look is not a good one believe me!