I realize that this is a review site devoted to horror and fantasy books. The thing is, there are many kinds of horror, and not all of them involve the supernatural. Indeed, there are many things that go bump in the night that are much more terrifying than Dracula or the Wolfman. Why are they more terrifying? Because they are real. And their very existence is always hovering near the fringes of our seemingly safe shatter-resistant reality, threatening to take away all that we hold dear while clearly demonstrating how so very much of our seemingly ordered life is totally out of our hands.
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen is certainly not your quintessential horror novel. Not at all. In fact, at first glance, you may believe it to be just another work of aimless almost-true-to-life fiction with no clearly defined genre at all. That’s certainly what I thought. But as it was at the top of my TBR ARC pile, I decided it was time to dive in.
And that is pretty much what you have to do to take this book in the way it was intended; dive in. Every Last One begins in a fairly mundane way, describing the morning rituals of a financially secure American family, while slowly introducing you to each member – good, bad, and totally conflicted. The main character is Mary Beth Latham, and although she is the owner and operator of a successful business, her family has always come first. And as she first watched her beautiful, brilliant daughter struggle through her early teenage years, she realized that sometimes a little outside intervention is warranted when it comes to securing the mental health of our children.
So, when Max, one of her twin sons, begins exhibiting signs of severe (possibly even suicidal) depression, it goes without saying that the majority of the families emotional reserves go into helping him with his struggles. He begins to see a therapist and appears, for all intents and purposes, to be coming out of his funk. Unfortunately, while the family’s attention is concerted on Max, they are unable to focus on the true danger to their continued happiness.
Their distraction leads to an unspeakable tragedy that, in my opinion, was of the most horrific nature I can fathom. And from this tragedy, Mary Beth is forced to pick up the pieces of her life and move forward while wanting little more than to close her eyes and let the darkness swallow her.
For me, Every Last One was a phenomenal read. 5 stars or higher. It will drag you through an emotional wringer, and make you wonder. Wonder about who you allow into your life, and wonder how the consequences of your actions will ripple through your life like pebbles dropped into a pool.