Book Review: All The Truth by Laura Brodie

Author: Laura Brodie

Publisher: Berkley Trade

ISBN: 978-0-425-24763-1

Publish Date: July 3, 2012

Pages:  287 Trade Paperback

Type: Fiction


When she was five years old, on a warm summer night in rural Virginia, Maggie Green’s life was ripped apart.   Three of her mother’s college students showed up on their property.  They had been drinking and beneath the surface, her mother sensed menace lurking.  Words were exchanged and a life-changing altercation ensued.

Ten years later Maggie is in high school, still plagued by nightmares of that night, which ended in a bloody and violent death.  Further adding to her angst is a new challenge: geometry.  She’s struggling in math and the teacher makes Maggie extremely uncomfortable, never making eye contact and passing her cryptic notes.  What Maggie discovers about her teacher and what her teacher discovers about her will mesmerize readers of Laura Brodie’s novel of punishment, penance, and remorse.

Excerpt from Berkley Trade


This haunting book grasps the reader from the very beginning.  Every mother’s nightmare unexpectantly occurs while Emma’s  daughter is asleep upstairs as this college professor is confronted by three drunk students at her front door late at night.  A 5-year old Maggie, after witnessing her mother’s violent behavior in an act of self-protection, crawls out of her bedroom window and hides in the forest which surrounds their secluded home.

Several years later, Maggie is in high school and still seeing a psychiatrist for the childhood trauma.  She still experiences nightmares and can’t seem to open up to her counselor.  She is a loner who entrusts very few people around her.  She discovers one day that she recognizes her Geometry teacher as one of the college students who was at the house on that fateful night.   The entire story begins to unfold when Maggie lets her teacher know that she remembers who she is.

What kept the pages turning is the way that the story revealed itself in such an unconventional way.  Nothing about this story was predictable!  Reading the story from the viewpoints of both Emma and Maggie, you can feel the hurt and regret of both characters.  The aftermath of just the events of one evening changed lives forever.  What was done could not be undone.  Finding redemption and forgiveness is all that one could hope for after such a horrific and tragic event.


This book found its way into my mind and heart.   This drama kept my attention at nights and during stolen moments which I was able to find some quiet time.  The characters were expertly developed and the reveal of the story was mesmerizing.  My only regret is that it took me much longer to finish this book than I would have liked to (and, that’s not due to the book, but rather my schedule of late).  I would recommend this book to avid readers for a change in pace as this is a different breed of dramatic fiction.   To learn more about this book and author, visit…

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The Movie Was Finally Produced! This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

I reviewed This is Where I Leave You when it was released in 2009.  I was elated to see that the book was made into a movie (as I suggested that it should be in my book review).  I went to the movie over the weekend and it was nearly as good as the book.  I was pleased to find that the movie really held true to the book.  The humor was sarcastic, and yet, heartwarming.  The cast included:

Jason Bateman
Tina Fey
Adam Driver
Rose Byrne
Corey Stoll
Kathryn Hahn
Connie Britton
Timothy Olyphant
Dax Shepard
Jane Fonda

I was so impressed with the movie that I would give it 5 stars.  Certainly, some of the performances should be considered for Academy Awards as the acting was really great.  I especially loved Tina Fey’s role, Wendy his sister.  Congrats to Mr. Tropper!

For those of you who did not have the opportunity to read my original book review, I have posted it below.

Book Review: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

leave-iAuthor:  Jonathan Tropper

Publisher:  Dutton/Penguin

ISBN #:  978-0-525-35127-8

Type:  Fiction:General

Pages:   339 Hardback

Publish:  August 6, 2009



The Story

“The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family-including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister-have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened.  For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.”

(Synopsis from the front cover of This Is Where I Leave You)

The Review

jonathan tropperThe back cover of this hardback reflects praise including, “outrageous,” “smart,” “winning,” “utterly magnificent,” “genius,” “darkly comic,” “wickedly observant,” “brutally honest,” “pageturning,” and “engaging.”  What my review will say is, “Yes, all of the above.”  Not  a one of those praise words do I disagree with!  I DEVOURED THIS BOOK!  There is such honesty in which this book is written, that it entranced me.  The characters embraced me into their world of heartbreak and redemption.  This was a book that I couldn’t wait to crack back open and discover the next turn of events in the lives of the Foxman Family.

Rarely do I read a story that so accurately reflects both the humor and sorrow lying in the hearts of an American family.  Like other families, the Foxmans have hidden hurts and resentments that divide the siblings to their own separate walks of life.  The mother’s struggle to bring her family together to reconnect, leads to the opening of old wounds as well as avenues of forgiveness.  Tropper delivers both a family’s history and present-day experience in one well-timed, original story that made me feel like the fly on the wall… observing it all.  And, there’s not a piece of it that I wanted to miss.

I have read more than my fair share of books about broken marriages and family heartbreaks from a heroine’s point of view.  The protagonist in this story is Judd Foxman.  He led me to understand how a man may experience the real heartaches of life and what made him “tick.”  And, how I rooted for Judd as he navigated his way through a cheating wife, the loss of his career, the death of his father, and the survival of his dysfunctional, yet endearing, family in a 7-day shiva mourning period.  By the time that I was 3/4 of the way through the book, I knew that I would come to miss reading about the Foxman Family and had hoped for a movie version of this fantastic book.  Good news… it was optioned by Warner Brothers, so that is a possibility.

Although the ending of this saga was perfect, one can always hope for a sequel to know what became of Judd’s life (can you see me with fingers crossed?).

So, what could I add to the adjectives on the back cover?







“A Best of 2009!”


The Rating

10By now, you have the general idea that I LOVED the book.  What I wanted to make sure that I shared for my “PG” or “PG-13″ readers is that this book is written for adults and does contain adult (sexual) content and mature language.  For me, this only enhanced the truth of the story and didn’t bother me at all.  However, for those who prefer to avoid that, please keep this in mind.  If none of that stuff bothers you, I highly recommend it!

This book will most definitely be on A Novel Menagerie’s Best of 2009 List and I can’t wait to share this book with my best friends.  If you don’t win a copy, grab yourself a copy and enjoy it on your summer break!

My rating, genre:Fiction-General, is a 10 out of 10!…

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Book Review: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

Author:  Nicholas Sparks

Publisher:  Grand Central/Hachette

ISBN #:  978-0-446-54765-9

Type:  Fiction

Pages:  292 Hardback

Publish Date:  October 11, 2011



The Story

In the small town of Oriental, North Carolina, people tell lies, capture secrets and hold revenge in their hearts.  Like other small towns, some of its citizens move away and start lives anew.  They move away to escape their secrets and avoid the hurts that once held them captive.  Yet, despite their relocations, their roots are tied to their hometown and the love that bounds them there.  Amanda and Dawson are two such people.  Both moved away from Oriental to start their lives over again.  However, neither of them chose the life that they had dreamed of in high school, when they were completely and solely in love with one another.

Amanda Collier came from a wealthy family whose sights were set on her going to college and marrying well.  Dawson Cole was born into a less fortunate family.   Despite her family’s unwillingness to accept or approve of their relationship, Amanda fell deeply in love with her once-in-a-lifetime soul mate.  He was an outcast from a renegade, criminal-minded family with a bad reputation which proceeded them.  He left his home and moved in with Tuck, a local auto-mechanic.  He kept his meager room and board by working, the majority of the proceeds of which were stolen by his menacing, threatening family.   Luckily Tuck understood and allowed Dawson to stay with him.  It was there that Amanda would come and visit Dawson.  Tuck was the constant, supportive friend who was seemingly always there for Dawson and, later, for Amanda.

Years after life had separated their great love due to instance of tragedy, Amanda and Dawson were brought back together via Tuck’s passing.   As they meet up at his home to sort out his belongings and attend his funeral, they were faced with messages from  Tuck.  He knew and loved them both.  As such, he had letters filled with words of wisdom and love for each of them as they rediscover the long-lost love they had for one another.  Although they are able to face this great love and open their hearts to one another, their fates would take their worlds in directions they could never imagine.

The Review

The Best of Me is one of the best novels to come from Nicholas Sparks.  What amazed me the most about this read was the way in which Sparks painted such a vivid, vital cast of characters, all of which the reader wants to learn the fate of.  Like most small towns, everybody is related to another in some manner and this story provided that same feel… that everything and everybody in the story were connected.   In following the fates of these characters, Sparks surprises the reader with not always providing the anticipated results as the pages turned.  Rather, what the reader anticipated didn’t always materialize in the expected way.

The twists & turns, the underlying love story, the uniquely imaginable characters, and the well synchronized story telling cumulate into a heartfelt and memorable novel.

9The Rating

On Sher’s “Out of Ten Scale,” I am giving The Best of Me a rating of 9 out of 10.  It has all of the components that a good novel needs… love, family, tragedy,  spirituality and betrayal.  A seasoned writer, Nicholas Sparks provides it all!

Disclosure to new readers: I’m a HUGE Nicholas Sparks fan!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Nicholas Sparks.  I have read all of his books, own all of his books and the movies based off of them!

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