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Sisters, Sisters, Never Were There Such Devoted Sisters

A review of All You Never Wanted, a book about sisters that makes me glad I don't have one.

Sisters, Sisters, Never Were There Such Devoted Sisters

BOOK REPORT for All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin

Cover Story: Respectable Angst
BFF Charm: Yay and BURN IN HELL
Swoonworthy Scale: 7
Talky Talk: Straight Up
Bonus Factor: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous
Trigger Warning: Eating Disorder
Relationship Status: College Club Buddies

Cover Story: Respectable Angst

Yeah, this book is obviously a ticket on the Teenage Angst train, but it's a First Class ticket! I really liked it, except for the weird typeface used for the author's name -- it just doesn't fit, but it's not a huge deal unless you're a typeface nerd like I am. Anyway, the back is cool because it shows a different angsty girl, so you get both sisters. If I'm gonna have to look at big faces, I want the covers to be stark like this.

The Deal:

After Alex and Thea's dad took off to find himself, things were tough. Their mom worked a series of demanding temp jobs to make ends meet, they had ratty thrift-store furniture, and never seemed to have enough, but they were close. When their mom married a hotshot businessman and moved the family into his nouveau riche McMansion, things had to get better, right? Alex was already model-beautiful and most popular girl in school, and Thea would now be able to shed her bookworm ways and buy her seat at the popular table. But Alex's internship at a fashion magazine ended so traumatically that she's now wasting away -- physically and emotionally -- and Thea is, well, completely fucking nuts and wants everything she thinks her sister has. Thea's plan to stealing her sister's life is this, cribbed straight from a John Hughes movie:

1.  Tell outrageous lies about everyone at school to gain popularity, which she can leverage to
2.  Throw the Party of the Year, which will enable her to
3.  Steal her sister's boyfriend and all her friends

BFF Charm: Yay and BURN IN HELL

Alex gets my BFF charm from the get go. She's sensitive and harboring a secret, and let me tell you -- lots of people might not react to her secret the way Alex did, but GIRL I FEEL YOU. What happened to her is one of my deepest, darkest fears and I can't say I wouldn't have done the exact same thing in her shoes, especially at 17. SERIOUSLY, I hurt just thinking about it. I usually don't enjoy reading eating disorder books, or protagonists with such major confusion and anxiety, but I couldn't get enough of Alex. I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be ok, and get her to laugh a little, and she definitely got about 20 fist pumps by the end of the book.

THEA. Good lord, girl. Didn't anyone tell you Regina George is NOT supposed to be a role model? Sure, it's funny in a movie, but no one REALLY wants to be friends with such a major bitch. There's a reason the Kalteen bars were such great revenge. I wouldn't trust Thea with a pet cockroach, let alone anything that meant anything to me. She's a compulsive liar and manipulative and grasping and social climbing. In short, she's HORRIBLE. I feel a little bad for her, because one thing Griffin explores is how sudden wealth impacted both girls and, implicitly, their mother, but damn. Being rich is no excuse -- there are plenty of starlets and It Girls and Snookis for you to figure that out.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Alex's boyfriend Joshua is a douchecanoe of the highest order, and the scenes with them make me want to gag. Thea has the hots for him, and the two deserve each other. However, there's a dark horse in the running who is normally not my type (I'm afraid he would sometimes smell like patchouli, but I have no confirmation of this) but who has some SMOKIN' times with Alex.

Talky Talk: Straight Up

Griffin pulls no punches with her characters. The writing is spare, and while it takes a bit of time to get used to the different POVs (Alex's story is told in 3rd person, Thea's in 1st), I really dug the narration and the way it worked for each of the girls. The story takes its time spilling secrets, but still moves at a fast clip -- a combo that heightened the anxiety I already felt.

Bonus Factor: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Remember when Erin and Posh went to that party and the host had a walk-through shower that led to a balcony hot tub? Yeah, that's the kind of house Alex and Thea live in now. The kind with live-in staff and whole wings that never get used.

Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders

I don't usually go for eating disorder books, but this one does a couple of things that are interesting. It doesn't become a how-to manual, and the rationale is definitely unique (to YA lit) while still maintaining veracity.

Casting Call:

Benjamin McKenzie as the douchiest douche who ever douched, Joshua

Selena Gomez as Thea

Dakota Fanning as Alex

Relationship Status: College Club Buddies

This book and I are totally club buddies -- not the dance club kind, but the "Free Pizza if you Come to Our Informational Meeting in the Student Center" kind. We wouldn't have met without a mutual interest in peer tutoring/copyediting/stamp collecting (and free pizza), and we didn't really hang out outside of club meetings, but its peanut-gallery comments made meetings WAY more fun, and we still keep in touch years after graduation.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Knopf.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). All You Never Wanted is available now.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.