Book Review: All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

Thursday, May 21, 2020

About The Book

All We Ever Wanted
Emily Giffin
Published by Ballantine Books on June 26th, 2018
334 pages
Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Kindle ~ Audiobook ~ Book Depository

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenaged girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

Overall Thoughts

tw: sexual assualt, attempted suicide

This is my first Emily Giffin book, and I'm shocked! I honestly bought this book because of it's gorgeous cover. I had no idea what this book was about. This story gripped me in from page one. This is a tough story, one that happens every day. This is a story that everyone needs to read. It's placed as "women's fiction" but reads like a young adult novel. The writing was very easy to read. It was quick to get through, it took me about two days.

Please keep in mind the trigger warning for this book as it does deal with rather difficult topics.


Spoilers below this line!


All We Ever Wanted is a multiple POV story about a girl whose life gets turned upside down, all because of one picture. Lyla decides to go to a party where she gets drunk and some boys take advantage of her, sharing a photo of her partially naked with a racist caption. We follow Lyla, Tom (Lyla's father), and Nina (Finch's mother). Finch is the boy whose phone this photo was sent from. I think this book is perfect for mothers. It's nice to see how different people would react if their son did these awful things.

Nina and Kirk are rich. They donate money to all kinds of charities and whatnot. Their life is supposed to be perfect. Until one night at a gala, Nina finds out what her son Finch was accused of. Of course, this boy says he didn't do it and places the blame on his "crazy" ex-girlfriend.

Lyla and Finch find their way to becoming friends. I wouldn't necessarily call them that, but for a while Lyla thinks they are. They eventually end up sleeping together. After that, that's where it all goes down and it is proven that Finch did those things to Lyla. Of course, since he's rich, he didn't suffer any consequences.

I feel like this story perfectly articulates how things happen in real life.. *cough cough* Brock Turner *cough cough*

More people need to read these kinds of stories, real and fiction, so that they stop happening.


I'm so glad that Nina is a person that can acknowledge that her son can be bad, unlike some of the other mothers in this story. They believe she needs to stick up for her son and that if he did it, which he did, that she needs to pay to have it swept under the rug. I'm glad Nina isn't that person. She's definitely a strong person. You have to be, to go against your husband and your own child.

I love Lyla's father, Tom. To teenagers, he may seem overprotective. He's not. He's a sensible man who wants nothing but safety for his daughter. I feel like he deserved more from this story. He's a great dad who tries his best. I was hoping that he'd end up with Nina in the end..

Lyla is a stubborn girl who tries her hardest to do whatever she wants. She kind of got on my nerves a bit. She was quick to believe Finch. She was quick to jump into bed with him. I'm not saying that sleeping with people is a bad thing, but it still wasn't proven that he was innocent! I feel like she made matters worse by sleeping with him willingly. It could have helped her win her case against him.

Finch and his father are complete ass holes who deserve to rot in the ground.

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