Title: All You Never Wanted
Author: Adele Griffin
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 9, 2012
Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she’s stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.
This is the first book by Adele Griffin I’ve read, and I really hope her other books are as good as this one, because I am completely hooked. All I’ve Never Wanted was super wacky and creepy but also believable enough to leave me feeling like I couldn’t sleep alone after finishing it. It left me with my mouth hanging wide open and my jaw dragging on the floor.
First off, let me tell you how much I love an unreliable narrator like Thea: SO MUCH! She was bad in all the right ways, and I never knew how much of what she was telling me was true and how much was just what she wanted to be true. I was glad that Griffin chose to narrate Thea’s chapters in first person, since I feel like Alex’s chapters would have been overwhelmingly depressing if they’d been written in her own voice. Actually, I don’t usually like books with multiple narrators that are written from different points of view because it gets distracting and is hard to do well, but that style really worked for this story.
Griffin deals with all of the ongoing and surface tensions of the story very well, especially considering how complex her characters are. She makes the pain of her characters so real and palpable it’s hard to put the book down. She also does a great job of making the reader feel empathy for the characters, even horrible, bratty Thea.
And that ending. Oh boy, that ending (don’t worry, no spoilers here). I wasn’t sure if I should be happy about it or not. Alex’s ending was certainly a step forward for her in terms of taking care of herself, but not if Thea was actually telling the truth about Joshua. I love a story with a really in-your-face, ohmigod ending, and Adele Griffin certainly delivered that. All You Never Wanted is not a story I’ll forget soon, and I can’t wait to see if Griffin’s other books are just as fabulous!