Everything We Ever Wanted (Paperback)
William Morrow & Company, 9780062080066, 352pp.
Publication Date: October 11, 2011
"Sara Shepard delivers the perfect read....A brilliant storyteller."
--Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine
" Written] with unflinching honesty and unstinting compassion."
--Jacquelyn Mitchard, author The Deep End of the Ocean
"This riveting, provocative and well-crafted family drama surprised and delivered at every turn. I could not put it down."
--Sarah Mlynowski, author of Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
Sara Shepard, the bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars, delivers a powerful novel of family dreams, lies, and delusions. Everything We Ever Wanted begins with a phone call with allegations that rock an upper crust Philadelphia family to its very foundations, unlocking years of secrets and scandals that expose the serious flaws in outwardly perfect lives. A moving, intelligent, and unforgettable novel, Shepard's Everything We Ever Wanted is exceptional contemporary women's fiction that will be embraced by book clubs everywhere.
Praise For Everything We Ever Wanted…
“Sara Shepard delivers the perfect read with Everything We Ever Wanted. This is a delicious story loaded with mysterious twists and turns and a vault of secrets, that when revealed, will keep you turning pages long into the night. Sara is a brilliant storyteller.”
-Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Very Valentine and Brava, Valentine
“With unflinching honesty and unstinting compassion, Sara Shepard tells the story of a proud family, with the best intentions, who must face the hypocrisy of the past or lose any hope for saving the future.”
-Jacquelyn Mitchard, author The Deep End of the Ocean and Second Nature: A Love Story
“[An] expertly rendered novel of family dysfunction set in moneyed Main Line Philadelphia. . . . Readers will respond as this family grapples with their many long-held secrets.”
“The strings are so tightly laced around this family that they are bound to break-when they do, old secrets reap surprising results. . . . Shepard has crafted a fine character study on the repressed lives of the American elite.”
“Explor[ing] the complexity of family dynamics and heritage. . . . Shepard delves deeply into the differing emotions and moods aroused by family conflict.”
“This riveting, provocative and well-crafted family drama surprised and delivered at every turn. I could not put it down.”
-Sarah Mlynowski, author of Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)
“Compelling and touching, this is a story with a difference—a real treat.”
-Closer, 4 stars (UK)
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- Throughout Everything We Ever Wanted, Sylvie’s house, Roderick, is as much a character in the novel as it is a setting. How do other homes in this story play a role? What is the significance of the empty houses on Spirit Street? Of Catherine’s house in Maryland? Is it significant that Bronwyn and the members of Back to the Land don’t have houses?
- Both Sylvie and Joanna have complex relationships with their mothers. In what ways do these relationships affect the two women’s choices throughout the novel? Are they seeking approval from their mothers, or are their decisions a form of rebellion?
- Early on in the novel, we learn that Scott is not only adopted, but also black in a white family. How do these realities affect Scott’s relationship with his family and his community? Do you see race as a factor that separates Scott?
- Many of the tensions in the book are caused by what is left unsaid. Charles doesn’t tell Joanna about Bronwyn, James never told Sylvie the details of the bracelet, and Scott doesn’t volunteer any information about the wrestling team. How do you think this story might have turned out differently if the characters had been more open? What other instances in the novel can you think of where events are propelled by characters’ withholding the truth?
- James, Joanna, and Scott all feel disconnected from the looming shadow of the Bates family. How do their choices reflect this discomfort? Do you see this lack of acceptance by the Bates family as real, or are these three characters’ insecurities largely of their own making?
- This novel often seems built on the conflicts that arise from oppositions: wealthy versus middle class, the suburbs versus the city, adopted versus biological. What other oppositions can you think of? How are they significant to the story?
- Much of the central drama revolves around Swithin, the elite school that Sylvie’s grandfather rebuilt, even though all of the Bates-McAllisters have long since graduated. Why do you think the school still plays such a big role in the characters’ lives? What is the significance of Sylvie’s final decision regarding the Swithin board?
- Sylvie’s grandfather, Charlie Roderick Bates, is one of the most important figures in the Bates-McAllister family’s life, yet no central character besides Sylvie ever knew him. In what ways does Charlie continue to influence the Bates-McAllister family?
- On pages 208–209, Joanna tells Scott about her childhood excitement and eventual disappointment regarding the arrival of the Kimberton Fair. Why do you think Joanna shares this story? How would you relate this story to the rest of the novel?