Book Review

All This Could Be Yours


All This Could Be Yours by Jami Attenberg via @barbaradelinsky #BookReview #book #review

Great cover, raving reviews, major hype – and still, I found this book sad. The plot revolves around a dysfunctional family whose members are either lonely, unhappy, clueless, searching, bored, angry, vengeful, or evil.

The saving grace, for me, was the narrator of the audiobook, who gave wit to all the witticisms, delivered cynical comments with a hint of lightness, and captured the men in the story with aplomb, not always an easy task for a female narrator. This one is Therese Plummer, and I give her five stars – though please know that I’m biased. Ms. Plummer will be reading the audio version of my new book, A WEEK AT THE SHORE, taping in March and on sale in May (pre-order now!).

But let’s talk about ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS. The premise is simple: A 73-year-old man lies dying and voiceless in a hospital room after having a heart attack. He was not a nice man in life. This fact affects the actions of those who should, could, or would be rushing to his bedside as the end nears.

What did he do that was so bad?  That dribbles out little by little, but after a major build-up to this, I felt let down. The characters accept that he was a criminal, but we never do learn details. Moreover, many of these characters were, in his or her own way, just as flawed as our dying man. In other words, I didn’t care much for the characters in this book. And the title? I wouldn’t want any of this, much less all.

If you’re wondering why on earth I’ve given this book 4 stars, it’s because, as a writer myself, I appreciate the author’s skill. She is definitely clever, and she does get into the hearts of her characters. Her words, tone, humor, venom, and wit all have a luscious edge to them.

My problem was with the plot. The book is short, and still it feels padded with irrelevant stuff. Do we really need to know the thoughts of the fare collector on a ferry? Or those of a nurse at the hospital, or a gravedigger? As spot-on as it may be, it’s distracting.

So there is brilliance here in character description, dialogue, and inner thought. But I’m still not sure what the main point of it all is. If any of you read this and have ideas, please leave comments below. I’d love to hear.

Bottom line? I recommend this book, but with reservations. If you’re looking for an entertaining piece of contemporary social satire, ALL THIS COULD BE YOURS will work for you. If you’re looking for kind people and deeper meaning, maybe not.


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