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First You Try Everything: A Novel by Jane…

First You Try Everything: A Novel

by Jane McCafferty

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I find it really hard to like a book where I just didn't like or understand the main characters.
I had this problem with this book as well. Although I was drawn to the his/her alternating chapters in the book, and at first could not put it down - by the "climax" at the end of it, I didn't like either Evie or Ben. Evie was so whiny I just wanted to punch her. Ben seemed so apathetic and passive, I wanted to punch him too!
However, the story of this long married couple and their relationship disintergrating was an interesting read by an author I will look out for in the future. ( )
  coolmama | Oct 31, 2012 |
By Jane McCafferty

Growing, aging, and evolving, is inevitable. It is life. It is meant to be. Ideally, a couple remains connected and does this together. That is the vow of marriage. Commitment is the root of the vow. It takes equal commitment from both people, and it must be sincere, from the heart.

Evvie and Ben have been together since college. Common childhoods and interests brought them together, sealing their bond.

As years pass and life happens, differences form. Ben becomes involved in the corporate world. Creating a career also provides a lifestyle for them as a couple. He feels this is the best road to take to achieve the goals best suited for their future.

Evvie holds onto her ideals and the freedom that comes with them. She clings to what the couple originally had together. Suddenly, she realizes that Ben has taken a different road, one without her. She becomes obsessed with the idea that they belong together, whatever the cost. She sets her mind on this idea, going to extreme lengths to keep them together.

The story of a couple is told in their alternating voices. It is an emotional story, taking you inside a marriage, revealing a couple who have grown apart. This novel explores the issue from the inside out. ( )
1 vote nightprose | May 25, 2012 |
This book was not at all what I expected. I didn't want to read it at first, but was on a long trip and a friend whose opinion I respect handed it to me to pass time. I was engrossed in no time at all in this painful yet beautiful story.

Evvie and Ben are in love, but Evvie is idealistic, needy and a bit insane--she talks to herself in public and lacks true purpose despite her radical idealism and commitment to animal rights. She clings to her soulmate, Ben, to the point of smothering him. The years pass and as Ben gets older and changes, he can no longer bear the traits that once drew him to Evvie and he leaves her. Heartbroken and distressed, Evvie's behavior gets more and more crazy, especially when Ben moves on with another woman. As he tries to completely cut her off, she grows more and more deranged and hatches an insane plan to get him back.

As Evvie's scheme plays out, it's clear how far off the deep end she has gone--and it slowly becomes clear to Evvie herself. It's hard to watch Ben ignore her repeated cries for help, especially when they were once so in love. What I love about the book is the way it shows us how clearly this couple can never again be together, yet a part of each other will always be intertwined. ( )
  mikaela11 | Apr 16, 2012 |
At first, reading this novel was like seeing a bad accident: intensely disturbing, but impossible to look away. The novel details the unraveling of Ben and Evvie's marriage. Once deeply in love (and probably a tad bit codependent) the couple has drifted apart, and Ben has decided to end the marriage. Evvie, who still loves him and wants to hang on to the marriage, is sent on a downward spiral that threatens her sanity.

Initially the characters were a bit one-dimensional (clingy, neurotic wife and distant husband), but the writing was terrific enough to overshadow this. As the novel progressed, different layers of the characters were revealed such that the reader, presented with alternating narratives from Ben and Evvie's viewpoints, gets a sense of what it is to be them.

At the end of the day, no one walks away from the end of a marriage unscathed, no matter whose choice it is; there are no clean breaks, and no clear sinners or saints. Jane McCafferty fluently articulates the psychological messiness of the end of a relationship, and makes it impossible to turn away. ( )
  Litfan | Mar 9, 2012 |
I received this book for free as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

It's been a while since I read a book like this one. It made me think, it tore at my heart, and it confused me. Reading this book was like being on a roller coaster: at first I enjoyed it, but halfway through the ride I started wanting to get off.

McCafferty has an elegant writing style that drew me in from page one. At times the words spoke right to my heart, as if the author was writing just for me. There were quite a few moments where I had to go back and read a sentence again because it was just so true and so honest.

Plot-wise, the first half of the book was great. It was dark, heavy, and depressing, but great. Whenever I put the book aside after reading a few chapters, it was hard to completely separate myself from it; the dark feeling hung over me for a while. Evvie's struggle to hold on to Ben was heartbreaking, and Ben's need to escape Evvie was equally tragic.

In the last half of the book, when Evvie gets desperate and as a last resort tries "everything," the plot got a little bizarre for my taste. I really wanted to get lost in First You Try Everything, but I just couldn't. I felt like I was a little kid trying to follow along with the grown-ups' conversation; I know there was something more I should have gotten from the last half of the book, but it was over my head.

Full review posted on my blog, PidginPea's Book Nook. ( )
  PidginPea | Mar 3, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0066210623, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:32 -0400)

A tale of a marriage that's falling apart and a wife who will stop at nothing to keep it together.

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