All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted


Could one bad decision tear two families apart?

Everyone’s seen the compromising photo of Lyla, a scholarship kid in a prestigious private school.

Everyone knows that Nina’s son, expensively prepared for success since childhood, took the photo.

And everyone thinks they know who to blame.

As events spiral out of control, Nina and Lyla – both outsiders in the elite social circle they inhabit – are drawn together in an unlikely bond of friendship.

Because this photograph is forcing them to question who they really are – and who they are becoming.

Our Review

All We Ever Wanted was so good I finished it all in one day.

Nina is at a charity event with her husband Kirk when she is told about a scandalous photo doing the rounds, a photo taken by her son. Finch has just been accepted into Princeton and Kirk’s only concern is that the photo may affect his future.

Tom is horrified when he discovered there is a photo of his daughter Lyla semi-naked and with a racist caption being sent around. Tom is furious and marches into the school against Lyla’s wishes to demand action.

One of the things that made this book so interesting to me was that every character in it was believable and you could anticipate what they would think and feel in certain situations.

The central issue in this book over the photo shared on some form of social media is one that has been discussed many times and often with the blame firmly placed on the shoulders of the person being photographed rather than the person taking the picture. I like the way the author explored the topic of victim shaming within the book.

All We Ever Wanted explores the relationship between parent and child in a realistic way. I particularly liked the intricate way the author dealt with the complexities of their relationships.

I sometimes feel that the split narrative form is overused in contemporary literature but in this case, it worked very well and was necessary in order to offer the reader the details from all sides of the story.

The character I disliked the most in this book was Kirk. I knew within minutes of first reading about him that I was going to intensely dislike him. He was a stereotypical arrogant father in a rich family who was more than willing to look away from the unsavoury aspects of his son’s personality.

Having said that there were certainly elements of Tom that I didn’t like. For example, the way he frequently cast aside Lyla’s wishes in favour of doing what he believed was the right thing. The motives were understandable but the manner in which he bulldozed her set my teeth on edge several times.

At first glance Nina comes across as somewhat vapid and I certainly found it hard to take to her despite her refusal to just dismiss her son’s behaviour as a drunken mistake. However, the further I got into the book more I liked her and saw how much depth her character had.

I liked the way she wanted to do what was right even if it meant that she wasn’t fighting her son’s corner at the time in the way you would expect but was doing so by setting a good example for him in his future.

“Because deep down, I know that if every person out there deleted the picture from their phones, and Lyla and her parents and the administration of Windsor never caught wind of it, and Finch truly was sorry, everything had still changed. At least for one of us it had.”

All We Ever Wanted could so easily have turned into a cliché, a story of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks and an arrogant boy from a rich family, but it didn’t.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 4.7/5

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