Feb 3, 2012

Blog Tour: Review | First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty

Title: First You Try Everything
Author: Jane McCafferty
Series: None
Publication: 01.17.2012 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: TLC Book Tours
Challenges: None

Summary: 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.

Jane McCafferty has written a highly original, utterly beguiling, and emotionally satisfying novel about marriage. Told from alternating viewpoints, this gripping, psychologically astute, and madcap novel illuminates the power of love to define and transform our lives, for better or for worse.

Thoughts: I'm always drawn to books about heartbreak and I guess I am some sort of masochist, because I enjoy reading books that I know will make me feel sad. I knew I wanted to read this when I first read the summary and I was easily pulled into Evvie and Ben's story because it is a bit strange but also because it felt familiar. I instantly connected with both characters and was absorbed with their pain, wanting to know more.

Evvie and Ben have been together for 16 years, but things have felt a bit wrong for both of them in the last few years. Evvie is a bizarre person, a free spirit that is afraid of the changes she sees and refuses to accept. Ben fell in love with her uniqueness, but after years of their eccentric lives, he gets a middle class job, wears a suit and tie, and slowly falls in love with someone else. Their marriage cannot last and Ben asks for a divorce. Evvie is brokenhearted, feeling lost without Ben. Her behavior gets a little insane and slightly obsessive as she makes every attempt to get Ben back. Ben tries to cut her out from his life feeling that she needs to accept that he no longer wants a life with her, but feeling guilty of the trouble she is going through. Evvie's insanity only grows, as does Ben's determination to keep her away, and eventually this results in an final conflict that gets a little out of control before it is resolved.

The story is told from both points of views, Ben and Evvie's, and we get to experience the turmoil and ache that they both are going through. Evvie is completely distressed that her marriage has ended, and we watch her struggle with her own insanity and her feelings as she tries to change what has happened. Ben, both guilty and sad, recalls his and Evvie's first days together, what drew him to her. We are able to see how slowly their marriage unraveled in a beautifully interweaving of emotions and memories from both of them and how sometimes, things just don't work out. From reading both points of views, I felt torn. I felt like I needed to choose a side, but couldn't because I felt for both characters. I sympathized with both, but felt frustrated at times with both of them as well.

The whole book is definitely an emotional rollercoaster that left me feeling sad and overwhelmed, both because of the way it was developed and how it ended. I definitely recommend this to others; it is a riveting and unusual story about obsessive love and a marriage that falls apart.

About the author:

Jane McCafferty is the author of the novel One Heart and two collections of stories, Thank You for the Music and Director of the World and Other Stories, which won the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She is the recipient of an NEA award, the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award, and two Pushcart Prizes. She lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Page | Bio
But the book: Amazon


  1. Wow, this sounds like a powerful novel. It would definitely be interesting to read something as moving as this.

  2. "Emotional rollercoaster" is exactly the term I used when describing this one recently. It's the kind of book that makes me emotionally tired by the end (and that's not really a bad thing ...).

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  3. I haven't heard of this book but it sounds good. Great review!

  4. Reading about a marriage falling apart really is sad, but I'm drawn to those novels as well because I think the themes inside are universal. Glad you really liked the book!