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All We Had: A Novel by Annie Weatherwax
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All We Had: A Novel

by Annie Weatherwax

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Can a female writer be a mysogynist? If so, then Weatherwax is. The main character is a cardboard cutout and entirely unbelieavable. But Weatherwax is a very good writer. ( )
  TimDel | Feb 2, 2017 |
Rita and her 13 year old daughter, Ruthie are living with another boyfriend of Rita's and trying to get back on their feet. As they leave poor Phil behind, their car breaks down in a very small town where they are treated kindly by the few people that still live there. This is a quick read and enjoyable for if you're in the mood for a coming of age book for the 13 year old daughter in spite of her mother. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Apr 19, 2016 |
All We Had by Annie Weatherwax is a highly recommended mother/daughter novel that looks at the gritty side of poverty, sometimes with humor, but always with empathy.

Rita and Ruthie Carmichael are a mother and daughter who are used to moving often and scrambling to try and find a way to live. That may mean working several jobs or it may mean Rita will be looking for a new "sugar daddy" for them to live with. Rita has frequently resorted to using her sexuality to help her get what she wants or needs, a fact that 13 year old Ruthie, the narrator of All We Had, is well aware of either because she witnessed the acts or because Rita told her what she did. Ruthie will tell you that her mother's favorite word is the F word.

They are currently living with Phil in CA, but Ruthie easily convinces Rita that it is time to move on. After stealing his things and pawning what they could, the two set off across the country and end up stranded in Fat River, a small town in NY. Rita accepts a waitressing job and Ruthie a job as a dishwasher at Tiny's Grub 'n' Go, a diner. For Ruthie this becomes one of the happiest periods in her life. She adores Peter Pam, a caring, funny transgender waitress. They make friends with Mel, the owner, and Arlene, the head waitress, as well as some neighbors when they rent and later buy a house. For once Ruthie feels some stability in her life.

Ruthie is an intelligent girl who does not mince words when describing what Rita does and where things are headed. When they fall on some hard times, after the long stretch of almost normalcy, Rita resorts to her tricks, what she knows how to do to survive, which puts Ruthie in a bind. She wants to stay in Fat River. When you are used to living so close to the bottom all the time, any sense of community and camaraderie is something to cherish.

I'm going to admit that at the beginning of All We Had I wasn't enjoying the novel. It gets much better once the pair settle down in Fat River. The character of Rita, the mother, is especially had to feel much empathy for because of all her extremely bad, selfish choices. Ruthie, however, will steal your heart. You will be wishing her all the best.

Weatherwax has written an excellent novel in All We Had. The characters were well developed, the descriptions very visual (it's the artist in her), and the plot moved along at a good pace. I'm anticipating she'll come back with another winner soon. (All We Had has been optioned to be made into a movie.)

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Scribner via Netgalley for review purposes. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Ruth starts her story in June 2005 when she was thirteen years old. At that time, she and her extremely beautiful mother Rita were living with Phil, another of her many boyfriends. Times were tough, and Rita’s many low-paying jobs were never enough to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. Read the rest of the review on my blog: http://shouldireaditornot.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/all-we-had-a-novel-annie-weat... ( )
  ShouldIReadIt | Sep 26, 2014 |
A familiar tale of a young girl and her messed up mom, traveling and surviving together until Something Happens. In this case, the Something is actually good - the pair find themselves in the dying town of Fat River, where they find jobs and security and even a home to call their own. But bad times and a bad man intervene to break the pair apart.

I enjoyed this but found it no more memorable than anything else like it since "Bastard Out Of Carolina". ( )
  froxgirl | Sep 25, 2014 |
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