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All You Never Wanted

Review

All You Never Wanted

Alex has always been the beautiful sister, the popular sister, the sister who seems to get everything she wants without even trying. Thea has always been the awkward, geeky sibling who looks at her big sister with awe, and a little envy, but not too much jealousy. But when Alex comes back from a senior year internship, she isn't the same girl who left --- now, she is unable to leave the house without suffering a panic attack or just freezing. Thea helps the best she can, but she's distracted by her own transformation. With the help of her stepfather’s money and the very best gossip (which often isn't true), she's reinventing herself into the girl she's always wanted to be: cool, popular and untouchable. All she needs to cement her status is throw an amazing party in her step-dad's mansion. With her parents away from the weekend, nothing, not even her sister's descent, is going to stop her.

"ALL YOU NEVER WANTED perfectly captures sibling rivalry at its highest peak...It's a great novel for anyone who's ever felt their life would be better if only they could be someone else. Its strength is its exploration of envy and its resulting fallout."

But once the party is underway, nothing goes as planned. The guests clear out and nothing’s left but the mess she's going to have to explain to her parents. Thea has to turn to Alex for help, and hopes that after all the changes she's gone through, she still recognizes her as her baby sister who needs an older sister’s guidance.

ALL YOU NEVER WANTED perfectly captures sibling rivalry at its highest peak. Thea is a well-drawn character because, for all her jealousy and frustration with her sister, she still has moments of pure love for her. Likewise, Alex is horrified by her sister's pathological lying, but she still has the sisterly instinct to help her, to protect her. The sister’s rivalry and issues are emphasized by the alternating point of view between the sister's perspectives, making the novel overall richer. Each voice is very unique.

Griffin also does an excellent job at conveying the feeling of being paralyzed by fear to the point that you can't move forward, literally and metaphorically, no matter how much you want to. 

ALL YOU NEVER WANTED is a complicated book but not a tough read; the pacing is quick and the questions left unanswered will keep the reader engrossed until the last page. It's a great novel for anyone who's ever felt their life would be better if only they could be someone else. Its strength is its exploration of envy and its resulting fallout.

Reviewed by Molly Horan on November 8, 2012

All You Never Wanted
by Adele Griffin