What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that All You Never Wanted is all about rich teens (and their less rich friends) behaving badly (from sex, drugs, and alcohol to vicious lies and theft). Some are troubled or casually irresponsible; others are borderline sociopathic in their complete indifference to the consequences of their behavior for other people. The plot centers on two sisters: effortlessly popular high school senior Alexandra Parrott, who's suffering from paralyzing emotional issues and probably anorexia, and Thea, one year younger, who wants everything Alex has, from her secure position with the popular crowd to her hot boyfriend, and is willing to do whatever it takes to get it. There's a fair amount of crude language ("s--t," "pubes"), a physical fight between two girls, and the mention of a rape, which may or may not have happened.
What's the story?
Life took a turn for the worse for Alexandra and Thea Parrott when their father decided he didn't want to be bothered with a family and took off. After their mom struggled to support them with temp work, their troubles seemed to be over when an older and very rich man married her and moved them all to his opulent, if tacky, estate in Greenwich, CT. ALL YOU NEVER WANTED finds the two newly rich girls driving their fancy cars to school, where Alex is automatically accepted in the popular crowd (about which she doesn't really care) and Thea is left out. Thea, the brainy one, will stop at nothing to get what Alex has, and, with mom and stepdad gone for the weekend, leaving the girls alone, she plans an epic house party to boost her social status.
Is it any good?
Few of the characters -- Alex and Xander, and the girls' absent mother in better days -- are remotely likable, and it's sometimes difficult to care about many of them. Thea, while somewhat appealing for her brains and snarkiness, drags the reader and all around her deeper and deeper into pathology. As a window on toxic teen scenes amid poor little rich kids, and a study in the way people fail each other, deliberately and otherwise, All You Never Wanted is often intriguing and thought-provoking. But it's also somewhat unsatisfying in its unresolved issues.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why sibling rivalry is such a popular theme in books. Do you find the relationship between Alex and Thea believable?
Do you agree with Alex and Thea that maybe they were happier before their mom married their stepfather and had nothing but each other? Or do you agree with Josh, who tells Thea it's never better to be poor?
What do you think happens after the end of the book? If you were Alex and Thea's parents, how would you react? Do you think anything will get better for anyone?