Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg

Three very different women. Three very different lives. Brooke is the happily married mother of twins. Her husband is about to turn forty and she's decided to give him a gift he won't expect: tasteful nude photos of herself. Samantha is a young, adventurous, athletic woman on her honeymoon in Hawaii. Her husband is a politician and quite a bit older than she is. He's also cheating on her with a woman from his campaign as Samantha finds out when she logs onto his computer on the second morning of their marriage. Painful as that was, it freed her from a life and marriage that would have suffocated her. Katherine is a forty year old single career woman. She's wildly successful and filthy rich but she also tortures herself everyday by going to work for the man who broke her heart almost twenty years before. So she decides to take her first vacation ever and it changes her life and her goals. When the novel opens, Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine are each living their separate lives, in some cases working through disappointment and betrayal, but living fully.  At the close of the first portion of the book, each of these three women is just at the cusp of feeling on top of the world, as if everything in their lives is almost perfect, that this very day is the happiest of each woman's life.

And the reader knows there just isn't any way to sustain that. As the second part of the book starts, these three women, none of whom have ever met each other, are about to have their happy lives shattered by the same scary diagnosis, one that will connect them in ways they never wanted. Because all three feel alone and in need of people who understand, they all reach out to an online community to find connection, commiseration, advice, and hope. And because of their shared hometown, even though Samantha and Katherine no longer live there, Samantha, more at peace with her diagnosis and further down the treatment path, reaches out to the other two women to offer them whatever she can emotionally. And caring, supportive relationships develop between Samantha and Katherine as well as Samantha and Brooke even as they make vastly different choices about their treatment and about their futures.

Focused on the strength of women's relationships and the importance of love and support, especially when faced with a life-altering diagnosis, the novel is pleasant but unspectacular. It took an inordinate amount of time to connect the women and while each of their back stories was important, especially their understanding of what they each wanted out of life, they took up too much of the novel since the meat of the story is meant to be the women's health battle and their coming together (even though Brooke and Katherine never do). As for the characters themselves, I have to admit I spent the entire book wanting to smack Brooke for all the flat cliches she represents. As for her husband never knowing of her diagnosis, well, apparently her husband doesn't ever look at their mail because here just a simple urgent care visit generates about ten insurance and facility related notices and bills as well as obvious activity online in our insurance and bank accounts.  Just not altogether realistic.  Samantha is chipper and upbeat all the way along and while that makes her a very sympathetic and likable character, her lack of any despair or grief causes her to come across as very one dimensional. Katherine seems to me to be the most fully human of the three women, running a gamut of emotions while still staying true to her character as portrayed. Over all, the writing is fairly pedestrian and there's a distinct lack of narrative tension. The reason behind writing the book and the cause it supports (cancer research) is phenomenal but unfortunately the actual book itself comes up a bit short in the end.

For more information about Mike Greenberg and the book check out the book's website, or follow Greenberg on Twitter. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book. And finally, in conjunction with this novel, Greenberg and his wife have created a foundation called Heidi's Angels in memory of a dear friend who died of breast cancer. They are donating 100% of the author's proceeds from the sale of the book to the V Foundation for continued cancer research.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. Darn, I'm sorry to see that this one didn't quite for work you, but thanks for sharing your thoughts on it for the tour.


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