All This Could Be Yours

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you netgalley and publsiher for the early copy.

I could not connect with the writing style and decided to put it down.
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2020 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at 
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I put "All This Could be Yours" in the to-read pile and when i got to it I could not believe I hadn't read it sooner.  Wish I could go back and read it again for the first time!
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All This Could Be Yours is a literary fiction family drama. And what a drama it is! Victor, the patriarch of his family, is on his deathbed in a New Orleans hospital. But Victor is not exactly a likeable guy. He’s a bad guy who was a bad father. So his children and wife have conflicting feelings on his impending death. As the book progresses, we meet his children (Alex and Gary), Gary’s wife Twyla, and Barbra, his long-suffering wife. We learn about the relationships they had with Victor as well as how they are carrying that into their own lives. The book has funny moments, jaw-dropping lines, strong characters, and whip-smart writing.
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So, Barbra and Victor have been married for a long time, she in her sixties and well tended, he seventy-three and lying on life support in a New Orleans hospital. Barbra has time to reflect on these years as well as the sacrifices she has made to love such a man as Victor. I don't want to say too much because there is so much character development and family history here that should be taken in without it being spoiled.

Jami Attenberg really knows about dysfunctional families. She is able to write about the crises that affect many middle-class families in the U.S. As in The Middlesteins, the theme is similar. Husband, father, grandfather Victor’s overall badness, his criminality, his brutality, his avarice, and his philandering affect his family in such ways as to transform them into a dysfunctional mess. The story moves along at a steady clip, with all revealed by the end in a sort of answer to daughter Alex, who wants to know what happened between her mother Barbra and father Victor. Alex, a lawyer, with a daughter, Avery, months out of a broken marriage, travels from Chicago to New Orleans not to make amends with her father, as her mother urges, for Alex’s own well being, but to learn this thing. She pursues her mother on the subject, but can’t seem to pierce her mother’s emotional carapace.
Gary, the adult son, has been estranged from his parents for years because he despises his father for reasons he reveals. A director, a second AD really, he found happiness with Twyla, originally from Alabama, whom he met in L.A. where she did makeup. He gave up his L.A. dreams for her and moved to New Orleans, well before his parents showed up from Connecticut, after Victor got out of financial and criminal problems and fled to The Big Easy. He adored Twyla and all was good until Victor appeared and Gary made the mistake of reading Twyla’s diary. 

This is not the happiest story, but it is one that's realistic, raw, and beautifully written. Fans of the HBO show Succession will definitely enjoy this book as you see the ties to the Logan family. Fans of New Orleans will enjoy the details of the setting. I recommend whole-heartedly!
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3 stars. Victor is very much a not nice man, ok, maybe a lot worse than that,. He is dying as the story starts. His wife Barbara is with him, but his children have a tougher time of it. Daughter Alex is pressured to forgive him for his past nastiness to her. Son Gary is "getting around" to getting there, but his anger towards his father is not to be forgiven. Why does Barbra stay with him is the major question for Alex. After all, he is a criminal who battered them and cheated and was an overall bad person.

The story goes in depth into the stories of these family members and some extended family who play roles in this disaster of a marriage/family. It was well done, but overly long as far as I was concerned and I found myself skimming several times as I just didn't care.

Thank you NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The writing is clear, concise and very good considering the subject matter. The main character in the book is Victor-a gangster, abuser, philanderer, liar and basically a horrible man who also happens to be a husband, father and grandfather.  Lest you think differently his toxicity extends to his family as well which has profoundly negative effects on their relationships. As I remember the phrase “what goes around comes around” I can relate it to this book because as Victor lays dying after suffering a heart attack all the hatred, violence and dysfunctionality he visited on his family comes back around and ultimately he gets what he deserves. Thanks to net galley for providing me with this book.
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All This Could Be Yours is the story of a rich, dysfunctional family told mostly through the eyes of the matriarch Barbra, her daughter Alex, and her daughter in law Twyla. Barbra's husband Victor is in the hospital, dying, and the family is reflecting on their unhappiness - much of which they consider Victor's fault. This book is beautifully written and the characters are fully realized. That being said, I didn't find it all that compelling. These people are unhappy but I couldn't make myself care about them. They're well developed but not all that interesting - they're super privileged and all varying levels of selfish. (I found Twyla to be the most sympathetic by far.) I started reading this one and put it down for a couple of months. When I picked it up again I was able to finish it really quickly, but I think if I had put it down a second time I wouldn't have finished. I did like the narration (especially when it interjects somewhat judgmentally, particularly in a chapter about the son, Gary, near the end). Overall I enjoyed this book but I didn't love it; it was mostly just fine.
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Sometimes I have a hard time reading books focusing in dysfunctional families, but this book was just so fascinating and well written. The writing is just done SO well, and solidified Jami Attenberg on my must-read list.
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Jami Attenberg continues to be among my favorite authors, and All This Could Be Yours was one of my favorite reads of the last couple months.

The story starts when patriarch of the Tuchman family, Victor, suffers a heart attack and lays dying in the hospital. His daughter, Alex, seeks to learn more about her father’s dark and criminal past, while the reader learns all about this vicious man and his broken family through each of the family members.

I love Attenberg’s beautiful use of language and deep dives into each of the characters who make up this supremely dysfunctional family. Her insights into those who surround the family also are very powerful and poignant. I thought I’d dislike most of the characters in this book, but besides the irredeemable Victor, I found myself sympathizing with those who got caught in his orbit.
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Jami Attenberg's writing is simply phenomenal, but I just couldn't get through the story.  It may be personal, coming off a book hangover from reading a really spectacular book.  I will probably try reading this one again at another time, but right now I just can't get through it.
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This is a twisty family saga that leaves you feeling cold.  Not because the writing doesn't work, but because it does.  The people in this family are so wounded, so damaged.  And they cannot, will not communicate.  The title is not a promise, it is a threat.  One that the reader would do well to think about.
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This was a hard book for me to review. It’s clear to me that Jami Attenberg is talented and the book is well written yet I had trouble really connecting with it. I connected with the New Orleans details, having enjoyed time in the city myself and longing to go back, but that was it. I found it hard to really care about the characters though and that’s a huge problem for a book that is so character driven. 

This book revolves around the death of the family patriarch, a now older, frequently described as ugly (yet he sure has a way with women anyhow?!) and supremely unlikeable man with an intense but somewhat hazy criminal history, a man who abused his wife and children who are now left to contend with their complex feelings towards him. I love character driven books and complex family and interpersonal relationships. This could’ve and should’ve been just my thing. Yet, while I like some dysfunction and tend to find it realistic and relateable, each and every one of the many characters in this book are so supremely dysfunctional they appear to utterly lack any good qualities. These characters don’t even like themselves! So why should I care then? It’s really hard to connect to a book and really care about it or what happens when there is not a single positive attribute or reason to like even a single character. And sure, sometimes dysfunction can be endearing but not in this book. 

It’s a shame because while they weren’t likeable and the book shifts between the perspectives of many family members and even some side characters that all end up connected in some way (I have mixed feelings about authors who do this but because they all got long enough parts and all connected, it worked) ithey all we’re very unique and easy to follow and track which can be an issue for other authors. There’s serious talent and creativity here but just... no feeling. There’s a certain level of detachment here that really kept me from enjoying the book. If I hadn’t read it in more or less one or two sittings, I’m unsure I ever would’ve felt a reason to return to it after setting it down. 

This one just wasn’t for me though I’d potentially be willing to give the author another shot in the future.
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Fantastic novel about a dysfunctional family. The writing is so on point and the inner lives of these characters so well observed. This book has so much to say about the relationship between men and women.

Reminded me of the writings of Philip Roth.
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Victor, the toxic patriarch of a dysfunctional family, is dying. And his death is forcing his family to deal with conflicting emotions. Through various perspectives, All This Could Be Yours explores the way one person's toxicity spirals out to affect the lives of others, and the complicated ties of family.

Attenberg's writing is complex and messy and real. The characters in this book aren't likable, but they're certainly relatable. And in the era of #MeToo, this is such a necessary view of what happens to bad men and the people who can't escape them. It's certainly not a cheerful read, but it's one that will stick in your brain and keep coming back to you when you least expect it.
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[4.5 stars] 
2019 has been a stellar year for family dramas and All This Could Be Yours may be the darkest of them all! The level of family dysfunction is high, but what makes it truly dark are the thoughts and feelings of each of these family members. If you need hope in your books, this probably isn’t the choice for you. The story examines what happens when someone you’re “supposed to love” is in danger of dying, but you don’t feel the grief you’re “supposed to feel.” I’m sure this happens often in real life and I’m equally sure that it’s rarely admitted openly. Not surprisingly, this book is full of dark, morbid humor. And, I’ll venture to say that you may not be able to relate to it if you had a normal, happy childhood…but, for those that didn’t, this story will speak to you. 4.5 stars and it’s going on my all my Book Club Recommendations lists (including Short and Coed)!
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Wow! What a read! I LOVE family dramas and this was one of the best. If you are a fan of the show Succession, you will definitely love this as well.
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DNF at 10% - I seem to be in the minority on this one. I enjoyed Attenberg's last book a great deal so I requested this after only a quick scan of the synopsis. I didn't expect it to be so bleak. I generally enjoy stories about dysfunctional families but I think the abusive patriarch in this one was a bit too much for me.
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Secrets and more secrets seem to be the ever-pervading theme of this book.  Although Attenberg's writing always conveys the emotions her characters are experiencing, I found it never-ending.
Their numerous flaws were constantly showcased and the bleakness of their lives and personalities unrelenting.
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Jami Attenberg had written a family drama that perfectly describes the dynamics affecting the members of a family that include Victor, a long-time gangster in the building trades in New York, his wife Barbra, who suffers in silence for years in return for the gifts Victor showers on her throughout their marriage, and their children Gary and Alexa. Set in a lush but oppressive New Orleans, the main story takes place over the course of a day after Victor suffers a heart attack shortly after another sexual liaison with his daughter-in-law. Deftly drawing the ways in which Victor has damaged his wife and their children over the course of day's events, Attenberg manages to imbue the story with humor along with pathos of the lives of Barbra, Alexa, and Gary.
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