July/August Pick 2009

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

Image representing cover of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

by Janelle Brown

“Brown's first novel rates as one the most difficult-to-put-down books of the year. It is the quintessential summer read, except that description downplays Brown’s quirky, sharp-as-tacks characters, unbelievably real dialog, and helluva plot.” —Library Journal (*Starred Review)

Set amidst the country club gossip and rampant affluenza of California’s Silicon Valley's nouveau riche, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything is a smart, acerbic comedy chronicling one eventful summer when the lives of the Miller family are turned upside-down.

When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting years for — until she learns, via messengered letter, that her husband is divorcing her (for her tennis partner!) and cutting her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, four hundred miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers’ older daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her newly famous actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her fledgling post-feminist magazine. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home where her younger sister Lizzie, 14, is struggling with problems of her own.

The three Miller women retreat behind the walls of their Georgian colonial to wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become sympathetic characters we can’t help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream. Exhilarating and addictive, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything crackles with energy, intelligence and wit.

For On the Same Page, the Library has purchased the 2009 Spiegel & Grau trade paperback edition. It is also available at the Library in a large print format and as an unabridged audio book in CD format.

Meet Janelle Brown when she reads from All We Ever Wanted Was Everything and signs copies at SFPL!

Thursday, July 9, 2009, 6:30-7:30pm
Latino/Hispanic Community Room, Main Library,
100 Larkin Street (at Grove)
Book sales by Book Bay

Photo of Janelle Brown About the Author

Janelle Brown is the author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, published in May 2008 by Spiegel & Grau, as well as in a dozen other countries across the world. An essayist and journalist, her writing appears regularly in Vogue, The New York Times, Elle, Wired, Self, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications. Previously, she spent five years as a senior writer at Salon, covering a diverse range of subjects -- from Internet culture to the war on drugs, pop culture to style, public policy issues and the digital music movement-- and began her career as a staff writer at Wired, working on seminal Web sites like HotWired and Wired News during the heyday of the dotcom boom. In the 1990’s, she was also the editor and co-founder of Maxi, an irreverent (and now, long-gone) women's pop culture magazine. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, filmmaker Greg Harrison, and their very spoiled dog, Guster.


“Executed with nerve and wit... Brown's comic scenes and devastating details make her postmillenial consumer universe surprisingly entertaining.”
—New York Times Book Review

“A killer summer read.”
—Daily Candy

“Brown — a respected journalist whose work has appeared in Salon, Vogue, and The New York Times — possesses a witty style that makes the book a quick but substantive read. Sex and the City may be this summer’s guilty pleasure, but All We Ever Wanted is all the fun without the saccharine hangover.”
—SF Weekly

“Brown’s novel reminded us of a soapier, more summery version of Jonathan Franzen’s biting social commentary. All We Ever Wanted critiques a certain Silicon Valley lifestyle in which 5,200-square-foot Colonials are average and blowout IPOs catapult regular tech guys to zillionaire status overnight. Against this backdrop, her tale of one family’s implosion is a deliciously fun satire that manages to raise interesting questions about the American Dream”
—Boston Magazine

“Swift-paced and very readable”
—San Francisco Chronicle

“The author grew up in Atherton, Calif., covered the tech boom as a writer for Wired magazine and Salon.com, and even edited a neo-feminist magazine, called Maxi. She knows this landscape well. It could be a minefield of cliches and tropes. But mostly— through humor, some deft plot twists, her eye for absurd detail and her ability to reveal the inner lives of her characters—she manages to steer clear of them, as well as temper sharp irony with a dose of mercy for the Millers.”

“One more terrific novel to throw in the beach bag-maybe I like this one so much because the unlikely heroine is a magazine editor...although one who lives in L.A. and who has completely maxed out her credit card. Having been recently dumped by her famous actor boyfriend and struggling to keep up with her more successful movie-industry friends, Margaret has to make a change that will bring her-and her family-back from the brink. This is one for the book club.”

“If you're nostalgic for boom times, pick up Janelle Brown's satirical first novel. It'll set you straight on the absurd expectations of our very own gilded age”
—San Jose Mercury News

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