When All You Could Ask For by Mike Greenberg came out earlier this year, it got a lot of attention in part because its author, half of the hosting team from ESPN’s Mike and Mike, apparently wrote in a very authentic female voice. It sounded intriguing to me, so when I was offered a chance to review the paperback version of the book (which came out this month), I took it.
All You Could Ask For is about three women – Brooke, Samantha and Katherine – who are in different points in their lives and living unconnected lives in New York/Greenwich. Brooke is a SAHM to twins and very happily married to a rich investment banker guy. Katherine is a very successful businesswoman who has been working for years for the man who broke her heart in her early 20s. And we meet Samantha on her honeymoon, just as she discovers naked photos of another woman on her new husband’s computer. For the first half of the book, Katherine and Samantha are both at crossroads as they try to discover how to find happiness and fulfillment in their lives. Brooke, meanwhile, is in love with her life and doesn’t want anything to change.
When the second half of All You Could Ask For opens, the three women’s lives connect in an unexpected way: each of them is diagnosed with breast cancer. The women react to the diagnoses and approach their treatment in different ways, but they find each other through an online breast cancer forum and end up forming friendships that help each other through the life-changing experience of disease.
I have mixed feelings about All You Could Ask For. I respect Mike Greenberg for taking this book on. He was inspired to write it after a close friend of his and his wife’s died from breast cancer, and I admire that he is giving the proceeds from the book to a foundation in her memory. Ultimately, though, I didn’t find the book as authentic and true to the women’s voices as I’d hoped. My complaints: 1) the women, especially Brooke, were too perfect and ultimately too focused on men (and sex); 2) the pain and side effects of cancer treatments (especially mastectomy) were downplayed considerably; and 3) the end was a little too perfect for my taste. Despite the male author, this is squarely chick lit. It was enjoyable to read, and I am glad it dealt with an important topic, but it was breezy and relatively shallow. The women – all white and rich and blessed (other than the cancer) – were sort of interchangeable and there wasn’t much exploration of how this disease affects women all over the life spectrum.
So in the end, All You Could Ask For gets an “enh” from me. A quick read, and a relatively enjoyable one, but also a pretty flawed one.