Anna Quindlen's 'Every Last One': A novel of suburbia's darker side
A review of Anna Quindlen's new novel "Every Last One": It creates a cozy suburban family scene and then unravels it before the reader's eyes.
Special to The Seattle Times
"Every Last One"
by Anna Quindlen
Random House, 320 pp., $26
Anna Quindlen's writing is like knitting; prose that wraps the reader in the warmth and familiarity of domestic life.
The platters in the sideboard. The naps on the couch. The way a teenager wakes warm and affectionate, then cools and crackles as the day goes on.
Then, as in her novels "Black and Blue" and "One True Thing," Quindlen starts to pull at the world she has knitted, and lets it unravel across the pages.
And so it is with Quindlen's sixth novel, "Every Last One." It is told through the eyes of Mary Beth Latham, an ophthalmologist's wife and mother of a daughter and twin boys, all of them teenagers, all of them finding their identity and place in the world.
Mary Beth is a landscape architect who sails through a world of neighbors, soccer games and Halloween parties. And yet, as tuned in as she is to the ebbs and flows of everyday life, the details of her suburban landscape and the clouds that pass over her friends' faces, Mary Beth is nearly oblivious to the darkness that lingers just beyond the soft lighting of her own home.
Her daughter, Ruby, a girl with an independent mind and a taste for vintage clothes, is involved with Kiernan, a boy from a family to whom the Lathams were once close, until loss and divorce set them apart.
And while one of the twin boys, Alex, is a thriving athlete, his brother, Max, is sullen and reclusive, and obviously in need of something Mary Beth struggles to find: a drum set? a therapist?
Things turn dark when Kiernan's mother moves to another town, and he learns he must go with her. He becomes clingy, which repels Ruby.
At Christmas, he leaves a package at the door, containing a photograph of Ruby that Kiernan took without her knowledge.
"He has that really good zoom lens," Ruby says to her mother. "He must have used that."
"He's just lost, sweetie," her mother tells her.
"Mommy, the thing you do, trying to make everyone happy? Sometimes it makes nobody happy."
Just how unhappy is something Mary Beth will come to know, an experience that will force her to pull apart that scarf that once kept her warm, forcing her to create something not quite as warm, something not what she expected.
But then, wake-up calls never are.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.