Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Review: Everything You Want

Everything You Want by Barbara Shoup. (Grades 9+)

It's all because of a goose that Emma's family wins the lottery (long story, but trust me).

Fifty million dollars.

You'd think it would make life easier, but suddenly everything gets more complicated. Emma's been immersed in her first semester of college and it's Not Going Well. Her best friend from high school isn't speaking to her because she told him she was in love with him. Emma stays in the psychology lab late on Friday nights because her roommate's always making out with her boyfriend. Emma feels lost and alone and she wishes more than anything that she could return to the time when she was small, when her parents took care of her, when things were simple.

Everything You Want is a story about getting, well, everything you want. And then realizing that it's changed you and the things you used to want no longer apply. Emma's not the only one who struggles with the changes that the money brings. Her parents and sister can't quite wrap their heads around it either. And having money doesn't make it any easier to have a crush on someone or to make friends or to decide what you want to do with your life.

As a person who felt plenty lost myself during my early college career, I really identified with Emma's struggles. She felt very real to me and I liked that she described her life as both depressing and hilarious. Other characters in the book are pretty well developed, especially her family members who each have different problems adjusting to the money. I also loved that Barbara Shoup painted such a vibrant picture of life at Indiana University*. She made me feel like I was walking down Kirkwood all over again.

Check out reviews at Jen Robinson's Book Page and bookshelves of doom. Barbara Shoup's a guest blogger at The Well-Read Child and you can check out her website and blog.

*With the notable exception that no freshman taking Psych 101 would be running an experiment (much less be allowed to rescue an animal subject). It's a small thing in the grand scheme of the book, but as an IU psych alumna I just had to point it out.