Wednesday, 3 October 2012

All She Ever Wanted by Patrick Redmond (3.5/5)

The back says: Only the weak fall in love. The strong survive on their own.

Tina was weak once: a scrawny, vulnerable child, deserted by her father, bullied at school, an object of derision and fun. Not any longer. Now she's Chrissie. Bold, self-reliant, beautiful. Girls envy her. Men desire her. She is everything she ever wanted to be and nothing, especially a man, will ever be allowed to change that.

But whether she likes it or not, Chrissie is also human. When love does enter her life, unexpectedly, shockingly, it threatens this carefully-crafted personality she has worked so hard to create.

And nothing can ever be allowed to do that. Control must be maintained and love must be on her terms. No matter how dreadful those terms might be...

I say: I read this in two sittings (I had to break to eat dinner) because I really wanted to find out who did what to whom. The story starts off with a suspect about to be interrogated by the police, so we know that something serious has happened; since the police refer to the brutal crime that has been committed. Usually I hate stories that begin like this, also it wasn’t listed as a thriller in the online book store (or I’d never have bought it), but as I just wanted something to read that wouldn’t require much thought from my part, I went on with it.

And I’m kind of glad I did because it wasn’t so bad.

The story starts with have Christina – Tina – sailing with her father and the love is obvious between them.  Her mother doesn’t really pay her any mind, everyone at school bullies her, and the only people who seem to care for her are her aunt Karen and her two children Adam and Sue. When her father disappears things get bad at home; her mother blaming Tina for everything. Until one day when Tina sticks up to a bully and vows to never be treated like a victim again.

Dun dun dun duuuun...

So far, so predictable.

We fast forward a couple of years and Christina – now Chrissie – is rather successful, gorgeous and plays any man that crosses her path. They can’t be trusted. But then she meets Jack, the guy that changes everything and we follow her through the emotions.

Just like it says on the tin.

What it didn’t say on the tin was how vividly Redmond describes Tina’s feelings when she is being bullied. All her thoughts, fears and distress just jumped off the pages and made me remember my own childhood. It was awful – the reminiscing, not my childhood. I saw so much of myself in Tina, and maybe that’s one reason why that initial part of the story is what hit me the most. The other reason is that there were so many emotions on every page; the bullying, the longing for her father, the jealousy of her cousins, the fighting with her mother. All of it was so powerful I was really excited about how this was going to end.

But then we got to Chrissie who turned out to be boring and one-dimensional, and the story just sort of fizzled out. All of the characters were predictable, there was no depth to any of them, and even the dialogue felt stilted. Yes, there were a few witty jabs here and there, but in the end I was just reading to find out what happened to Tina.

And then when I did find out, I was all a bit meh and preachy.

Honestly, the second part of the book read like a mixture between a bad thriller and a chick-lit/flick all wrapped up in thinly veiled morality. The diary entries, clips from newspapers and interviews with relatives were supposed to add to the whole whodunit feel, but after a while they started to annoy me. By then I had checked out of the story and I had an idea of who it was - I was right, btw - but In the end it unfortunately just felt like there was a lot of repetition.

Yes, we get it: bad parenting leads to scarred adults (who will turn into emotionally disturbed psychos).

So yeah, 3.5/5 because I loved the compelling beginning, and all in all it wasn’t a bad read (if you are able to turn your mind off and ignore all mentioned above).

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