Thursday, February 13, 2014

Review: All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg

All You Could Ask For
by Mike Greenberg
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
2013 William Morrow
Softcover Edition; 264 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-06-222076-9
Genre: Fiction/Contemporary
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Three women are about to find their lives intertwined in ways none of them could ever have imagined...

Brooke has been happily married to her college sweetheart for fifteen years. Even after the C-section, the dog poop, the stomach viruses, and the coffee breath, Scott still always winks at her at just the right moments. That is why, for her beloved, romantic, successful husband's fortieth birthday, she is giving him pictures. Of her. Naked.

Samantha's newlywed bliss is steamrolled when she finds shocking evidence of infidelity on her husband's computer. She has been married for two days. She won't be for much longer.

Katherine works eighteen hours a day for the man who irreparably shattered her heart fifteen years ago. She has a duplex on Park Avenue, a driver, a chef, and a stunning house in Southampton, and she bought it all herself. So what if she has to see Phillip every single workday for the rest of her natural life? Brooke, Samantha, and Katherine don't know one another, but all three are about to discover the conquering power of friendship—and that they have all they could ask for, as long as they have one another.

My Thoughts
All You Could Ask For is one of those books that kind of drove me crazy, and where the characters kind of drove me crazy too.  Let me explain.  But first, let me make one thing clear, the fact that Mike Greenberg is a big ESPN cohost and journalist makes little difference to me, nor does the fact that this book is about female protagonists and the book is authored by a male writer.  I judge the book on its literary merits, not on who the author is or the gender of the author.  There are a lot of good writers out there who are quite capable of writing in the opposite gender's voice.

Let's start with some of the good things.  First of all, I really liked Samantha as she seemed to be the voice of sanity in all of this.  Having a husband who cheats on you, and discovering the fact two days after your marriage, will certainly have an effect on you, and I'm glad she took the road that she did.  Through it all, she was sensitive, kind, but strong as well, and I liked her.  The only thing that bothered me was her decision to train for an iron man six weeks before the event and then finishing quite high in the event, something which would have been impossible, especially in Hawaii (Kona) as this race is usually a qualifier for the iron man world championships and is sold out months before the event.  I did like the humour and the self-reflection of these women, learning the details of their lives and how they got where they were.  It was interesting to learn how a high-powered woman, such as Katherine, could still be yearning over a lost love for over 20 years, wondering how she could be turning 40 years old, and still be no further ahead in her personal life.  I think a lot of women hit 40 and wonder whether their life would be different if they had made different choices or let things go when they could have.  It doesn't mean they are not happy with their current lives, but there is always that element of 'What if...?'  My friends and I all hit 40 a few years ago, and I know it's been a constant source of discussion in our lives.  Not a source of dissatisfaction, such as in Katherine's life, but just an element of "Wow! Where did time go? And are we where we want to be?" sort of discussions. 

What I didn't like was Brooke.  And it wasn't her personality as I can live with her permanent prom-queen personality, but it was more her choices I wasn't too crazy about.  Everyone definitely has the right to choose their course of treatment when it comes to cancer, and after going through that with my dad, it's not Brooke's choice in her cancer treatment options that has me unnerved, it's her personal choice not to disclose the fact that she has cancer to her husband and family that really has me bothered.  I couldn't imagine finding out years later that my husband was told he had cancer, going through all of the appointments by himself, making the choices by himself, and not telling me anything about it, how I would feel.  Actually, I know exactly how I would feel, and the feeling is not a good one!!!  And we didn't really find out Brooke's personal reasons other than it would disrupt her personal life at that moment, and make her husband see her as something less sexy and different than he sees her at the moment.  Personally, I think that's rather selfish, but it's just a personal opinion.  I just can't imagine not sharing such a momentous thing with the most important person in my life.  And yes, I am being a bit judgmental, but I can't help it.  

Despite all of this, I wasn't sure how to take the lightness of the second half of the book.  The fact that all three women had ample money to cover their medical bills made the cancer treatments seem rather easy and I know it doesn't always work that way.  I did like the fact that each woman had a different form of breast cancer which does bring the different symptoms that women should look out for to light, which is important.  I don't think a lot of women would worry too much if they had back issues and this book certainly highlighted the fact that we should get checked out if it's persistent.  Scary!!

All You Could Ask For is one of those books where I definitely had mixed feelings about the storyline and its characters.  I really enjoyed the perceptiveness and the lightness of the first half of the novel, even if I wasn't too crazy about Brooke.  I wasn't too sure if the lightness should have carried on in the same vein in the second half though, as cancer is something that should never be taken too lightly, although I get that Mr. Greenberg would not have wanted to depress his readers either by getting too serious.  I enjoyed the relationships the three women forged and thought that the women developed quite nicely towards the end of the novel, but I would have liked to have seen more development as it seemed to have happened too late in the novel and it was the relationships between the women that I found the most fascinating.  Would I read another novel by this writer? Yes, I would as I see a lot of potential here and I really enjoyed his writing style.  Besides, all profits of this novel go to fighting cancer and supporting The V Foundation for Cancer Research and that is definitely worthwhile. 


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