Thursday, July 12, 2012

Staff Picks – Everybody has Everything by Katrina Onstad

This latest novel from The Globe and Mail culture columnist Katrina Onstad caught my attention as I was looking through a list of great reads for 2012. I had always enjoyed her weekly columns and decided to take the plunge.

Everybody has Everything (M) opens with a nicely settled Toronto couple who live in a great suburban area in the city's downtown. Their street is a mix of well to do people, construction workers, and some neighbours the couple suspect may be running a brothel down the street. As the story moves along we discover that Ana (a corporate lawyer) and her husband James (a television documentary producer) are living a good life with the exception of one thing: they've been unable to have a child of their own. 

Numerous attempts at in vitro fertilization have failed and left them believing their time as parents may never come. During this time Ana and James become very good friends with Sarah and Marcus and their young son Finn. One day, a car crash changes everything for the couple, their friends, and most of all two-year old Finn. When Marcus is killed in the crash and Sarah left in a coma with little hope for recovery, Ana and James discover they are not only Finn's legal guardians but James also is Executor of Marcus' estate and has Power of Attorney to look after Sarah's medical needs and young Finn's well being.

When Finn moves in we see the changes that a two year old can bring into a perfect childless household. There are many funny moments in the story but it is not by any means a happily ever after affair. Like most two-year olds Finn is not perfect, nor is he toilet-trained. Ana and James struggle to find their way with him with Ana often being the outsider looking in on Finn and James' blossoming relationship. Why doesn't Ana feel the same way towards Finn? Does she really want to be a mother? Should she be grateful or frightened when there is a radical change in Sarah's condition?

The ending is not a classic one but it left me satisfied and happy with the way things worked out. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

If you enjoy Onstad's style, her first novel is How Happy To Be (Mpublished in 2006.


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