First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty
Published by: Harper
Published on: January 17, 2012
Page Count: 288
My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by the publisher for consideration
Available Formats: Hardcover and eBook
When offered the opportunity to review First You Try Everything, there was just something about the description that made me want to read it.
An engrossing tale of a marriage that’s falling apart and a wife who will stop at nothing to keep it together.
From their early days in college, Evvie and Ben were drawn to each other by feelings of isolation stemming from their wounded childhoods, passionate idealism, and zeal for music. Sheltered by their love, they weathered the challenges and trials of the imperfect world around them. But as the years passed, they grew apart. Now Ben has his sights set on a completely different kind of future—alone, or with someone else.
Convinced that Ben cannot live without her, Evvie begins to unravel, as she obsessively devises ways to reclaim the love that she cannot let go of. She gambles on a spectacularly dangerous scheme, one that may ultimately have devastating consequences.
Divorce isn’t a new topic, but the idea of the wife going to extreme lengths to repair her marriage must have caught my eye. Unfortunately, the premise was not enough to carry the novel.
There are things I loved about First You Try Everything. I loved Ben. Had it not been for Ben, I wouldn’t have read beyond the first 50 pages. His voice and his moral nature grabbed my attention and my affection. I wanted him to be happy and the more he worried about Evvie, loving her despite her mental illness, made me want the ordeal to be over for him so that he could move on and find a place in life where he could experience joy. I also loved the location. I have an aunt who lives in the Pittsburgh area and, early on in the book, Ben is driving to Cranberry for work, I knew exactly where he was headed. We drive through there to visit Aunt Donna. I also have familiar enough with downtown Pittsburgh that I could picture the location where certain events took place.
Unfortunately, what I liked about this novel was not enough to salvage it for me. Evvie’s mental instability, which first made me want to stop reading the novel, was what ruined the experience for me. There was nothing for me to grab on to with Evvie. Sure, she and Ben had a good relationship at the start, but there was nothing about her specifically that made me care about her future. In addition, I simply could not follow Jane McCafferty where she took the story of Evvie and Ben. Not only could I not buy the chance encounter that brought about the ending, I couldn’t pin a true or even plausible motive to the outside forces involved. It simply was frustrating.
If you have read First You Try Everything, I would love to hear your take on the book. In the meantime, I’m moving on.