Wow. That was my silent word of gratitude as I closed this amazing book. A young man, sportscaster and TV personality, Mike Greenberg has written a novel that captures the essence of three unique women. Their personality quirks, dialogue and life views are as diverse as they are, yet Greenberg nails them all. As each one tells her own story, his first-person narratives never miss the mark. Every reader is sure to identify with one of the women and is probably friends with another one as well.
Part one introduces us to Brooke, Samantha and Katherine. As they share their stories, there is no hint that life is about to hand them an unwelcome disruption. Brooke is planning a delicious surprise for her husband's 40th birthday. Samantha is preparing for a triathlon, having come to terms with the pain of being betrayed by her husband of two days. Katherine is finally ready to take some time off after years of working non-stop to get ahead in the corporate world.
"Mike Greenberg has written a dynamite debut novel avoiding many of the mistakes that new authors make, especially the common misstep that doubles the number of pages required to tell the story. ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR is a fast read that will make you wish there was more."
What makes life worth living? Is happiness its own goal? Can you go home again? Do others have the right to suggest how you should live your life? Brooke, Katherine and Samantha are faced with these questions and discover answers in unexpected ways; from long-time friends to chance encounters, from lost romances to renewed relationships. The reader will get caught up in these questions and become even more aware of the fears and uncertainties that others may be going through.
The inspiration for Greenberg to tackle this ambitious project came from the untimely loss of a friend to that insidious enemy: breast cancer. Although most people have been touched by this abomination either personally or through a loved one, few have been able to present the reality of it in a way that is authentic without being gruesome, honest without being pretentious, poignant without being maudlin. Quite an accomplishment for a young man --- a young man with talent beyond any expectation.
Perhaps one of the book's most outstanding qualities is that there is no judgment by the characters or by the author. Each is allowed the dignity of handling her situation the way she sees fit. As a breast cancer survivor, I generally avoid reading stories like this. If I were one of Greenberg's characters, perhaps I would be Brooke: stoic and accepting of what life has to dish up, wanting to maintain normalcy for myself and my loved ones. In retrospect, I think I actually could have gotten a lot more mileage out of my two encounters with cancer! But I chose the approach that I was most comfortable with, and it served me well.
Mike Greenberg has written a dynamite debut novel avoiding many of the mistakes that new authors make, especially the common misstep that doubles the number of pages required to tell the story. ALL YOU COULD ASK FOR is a fast read that will make you wish there was more.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on April 12, 2013
All You Could Ask For