Mrs. Everything

Mrs. Everything

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“A multigenerational narrative that’s nothing short of brilliant.” —People
“Simply unputdownable.” —Good Housekeeping
“The perfect book club pick.” —SheReads

Named a Best Book of Summer by Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Woman’s Day, PopSugar, HelloGiggles, and Refinery29

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world.

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781508251798
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 33,505
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Weiner is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of sixteen books, including Good in Bed, In Her Shoes, and her memoir, Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing. A graduate of Princeton University and contributor to the New York Times Opinion section, Jennifer lives with her family in Philadelphia. Visit her online at

Ari Graynor's theater credits include Little Dog Laughed, Brooklyn Boy, Dog Sees God, Spanish Girl, Fall, King Lear, and Into the Woods. Films include For Your Consideration, The Great New Wonderful, Game 6, Imaginary Heroes, and Mystic River. On TV, she has appeared in Veronica Mars, The Sopranos, and Law & Order: SVU.


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Date of Birth:

March 28, 1970

Place of Birth:

De Ridder, Louisiana


B.A., Princeton University, 1991

Read an Excerpt

Mrs. Everything

The four Kaufmans stood at the curb in front of the new house on Alhambra Street, as if they were afraid to set foot on the lawn, even though Jo knew they could. The lawn belonged to them now, along with the house, with its red bricks and the white aluminum awning. Every part of it, the front door and the steps, the mailbox at the curb, the cherry tree in the backyard and the maple tree by the driveway, the carport and the basement and the attic you could reach by a flight of stairs that you pulled down from the ceiling, all of it belonged to the Kaufmans. They were moving out of the bad part of Detroit, which Jo’s parents said was crowded and unhealthy, full of bad germs and diseases and filling up with people who weren’t like them; they were moving up in the world, to this new neighborhood, to a house that would be all their own.

“Oh, Ken,” said Jo’s mother, as she squeezed his arm with her gloved hand. Her mother’s name was Sarah, and she was just over five feet tall, with white skin that always looked a little suntanned, shiny brown hair that fell in curls to her shoulders, and a pursed, painted red mouth beneath a generous nose. Her round chin jutted forward, giving her a determined look, and there were grooves running from the corners of her nose to the edges of her lips, but that morning, her mouth was turned up at the corners, not scrunched up in a frown. She was happy, and as close to beautiful as Jo had ever seen.

Jo wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist, feeling the stiffness underneath the starch of Sarah’s best red dress, the one with a full skirt flaring out from her narrow waist and three big white buttons on either side of the bodice. A smart red hat with a black ribbon band sat on top of Sarah’s curls. Her mother put her arm around Jo’s shoulders and squeezed, and Jo felt like someone had pulled a blanket up to her chin, or like she was swimming in Lake Erie, where they went in the summertime, and had just paddled into a patch of warm water.

“So, girls? What do you think?” asked Jo’s daddy.

“It’s like a castle!” said Bethie, her little sister. Bethie was five years old, chubby and cute, with pale white skin, naturally curly hair, and blue-green eyes, and she always said exactly the right thing. Jo was six, almost seven, tall and gangly, and almost everything she did was wrong.

Jo smiled, dizzy with pleasure as her dad scooped her up in his arms. Ken Kaufman had thick dark hair that he wore combed straight back from his forehead. His nose, Jo thought, gave him a hawklike aspect. His eyes were blue underneath dark brows, and he smelled like the bay rum cologne he patted on his cheeks every morning after he shaved. He was only a few inches taller than his wife, but he was broad-shouldered and solid. Standing in front of the house he’d bought, he looked as tall as Superman from the comic books. He wore his good gray suit, a white shirt, a red tie to match Sarah’s dress, and black shoes that Jo had helped him shine that morning, setting the shoes onto yesterday’s Free Press, working the polish into the leather with a tortoiseshell-handled brush. Jo and Bethie wore matching pink gingham dresses that their mother had sewn, with puffy sleeves, and patent-leather Mary Janes. Bethie could hardly wait to try on the new dress. When Jo had asked to wear her dungarees, her mother had frowned. “Why would you want to wear pants? Today’s a special day. Don’t you want to look pretty?”

Jo couldn’t explain. She didn’t have the words to say how she felt about pretty, how the lacy socks itched and the fancy shoes pinched and the elastic insides of the sleeves left red dents in her upper arms. When she was dressed up, Jo just felt wrong, like it was hard to breathe, like her skin no longer fit, like she’d been forced into a costume or a disguise, and her mother was always shushing her, even when she wasn’t especially loud. She didn’t care about looking pretty, and she didn’t like dresses. Her mother, she knew, would never understand.

“It’s our house,” Jo’s mother was saying, her voice rich with satisfaction.

“The American Dream,” said Jo’s dad. To Jo, the house didn’t seem like much of a dream. It wasn’t a castle with a moat, no matter what Bethie had said, or even a mansion, like the ones in Grosse Pointe that Jo had seen when the family had driven there for a picnic. It was just a regular house, square-shaped and boring red, with a triangle-shaped roof plopped on top, like the one in her “Dick and Jane” readers, on a street of houses that looked just the same. In their old neighborhood, they’d lived in an apartment. You could walk up the stairs and smell what everyone was cooking for dinner. The sidewalks had bustled with people, kids, and old men and women, people with light skin and dark skin. They’d sit on their stoops on warm summer nights, speaking English or Yiddish, or Polish or Italian. Here, the streets were quiet. The air just smelled like air, not food, the sidewalks were empty, and the people she’d seen so far all had white skin like they did. But maybe, in this new place, she could make a fresh start. Maybe here, she could be a good girl.

Except now she had a problem. Her dad had borrowed a camera, a boxy, rectangular Kodak Duaflex with a stand and a timer. The plan was for them all to pose on the steps in front of the house for a picture, but Sarah had made her wear tights under their new dresses, and the tights had caused Jo’s underpants to crawl up the crack of her tushie, where they’d gotten stuck. Jo knew if she pulled them out her mother would see, and she’d get angry. “Stop fidgeting!” she would hiss, or “A lady doesn’t touch her private parts in public,” except everything itched her so awfully that Jo didn’t think she could stand it.

Things like this never happened to Bethie. If Jo hadn’t seen it herself, she wouldn’t have believed that her sister even had a tushie crack. The way Bethie behaved, you’d expect her to be completely smooth down there, like one of the baby dolls Bethie loved. Jo had dolls, too, but she got bored with them once she’d chopped off their hair or twisted off their heads. Jo shifted her weight from side to side, hoping it would dislodge her underwear. It didn’t.

Her father pulled the keys out of his pocket, flipped them in the air, and caught them neatly in his hand. “Let’s go, ladies!” His voice was loud and cheerful. Bethie and Sarah climbed the stairs and stood in front of the door. Sarah peered across the lawn, shadowing her eyes with her hand, frowning.

“Come on, Jo!”

Jo took one step, feeling her underwear ride up higher. Another step. Then another. When she couldn’t stand it anymore, she reached behind her, grabbed a handful of pink gingham, hooked her thumb underneath the underpants’ elastic, and yanked. All she’d meant to do was pull her panties back into place, but she tugged so vigorously that she tore the skirt away from its bodice. The sound of the ripping cloth was the loudest sound in the world.

“Josette Kaufman!” Sarah’s face was turning red. Her father look startled, and Bethie’s face was horrified.

“I’m sorry!” Jo felt her chest start getting tight.

“What’s the matter with you?” Sarah snapped. “Why can’t you be good for once?”

“Sarah.” Ken’s voice was quiet, but angry.

“Oh, sure!” said Sarah, and tossed her head. “You always take up for her!” She stopped talking, which was good, except then she started crying, which was bad. Jo stood on the lawn, dress torn, tights askew, watching tears cut tracks through her mother’s makeup, hearing her father’s low, angry voice, wondering if there was something wrong with her, why things like this were always happening, why she couldn’t be good, and why her mom couldn’t have just let her wear pants, the way she’d wanted.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Mrs. Everything includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

From Jennifer Weiner, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Who Do You Love and In Her Shoes, comes a smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Jo and Bethie are very different people. But in what ways do you find them similar? Do their similarities outweigh their differences? How do their similarities cause problems in their relationship?

2. Forgiveness, of others and of the characters’ own selves, is an important theme in the novel. Discuss how the characters work through their conflicts and how they do or do not resolve the issues.

3. Compare and contrast how Jo and Bethie are influenced by their mother. Is there a defining element of their relationship with their mother? How does it weave its way into the sisters’ lives?

4. Mrs. Everything spans half of the twentieth century and the early part of the twenty-first. What period details make you feel immersed in each decade? Were there any details that you remembered from your own past? Were there details about life in earlier decades that surprised you? What effect did this have on your reading experience?

5. In Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner has created many memorable secondary characters, from Mrs. Kaufman to Lila to Jo’s and Bethie’s partners and beyond. Did you have a favorite? What qualities made them come alive for you?

6. Were you ever frustrated by the choices Jo and Bethie made? Did you empathize with their choices, despite feeling frustrated?

7. Literature is full of sisters with complex relationships. Do Jo and Bethie remind you of other favorite sister duos? What is it about the sister relationship that captivates us as readers?

8. What draws Jo and Shelley together? After they’ve reunited, what keeps them together?

9. What do Bethie and Harold learn from each other throughout their relationship?

10. Because Mrs. Everything takes places over several decades, it touches on many political and social movements. Did you learn anything about American history while reading? Was there a cause or issue that particularly interested you?

11. When Lila visits Bethie for the summer, they have a heart-to-heart about the pressure Lila feels from her mother to be special and achieve great things. Bethie tells Lila that it comes from the lack of options the sisters had growing up in a different era: “Some girls did grow up and became doctors and lawyers and school principals. . . . A few girls did grow up and do things, and got those jobs, but for the rest of us, we were told that the most important thing was to be married, and be a mother. . . . She just doesn’t want that to be the only choice you have” (page 392). Though Lila does have more opportunities available to her than her mother and aunt did, she (and her generation) faces new challenges. Did you relate to Lila’s concerns?

12. How does faith—both religious and in a more general sense—inform Jo and Bethie? What does faith mean to the sisters?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. If your group hasn’t already read Jennifer Weiner’s novel In Her Shoes, consider reading it together and comparing its themes of sisterhood with those of Mrs. Everything. What similarities do you notice between the sisters in these two novels? What ideas and feelings does Jennifer Weiner explore in both?

2. Choose one of the eras from the novel and come to your book club dressed in clothes or donning fun accessories from the period. Pick a film set in that same decade and discuss how the director and Jennifer Weiner each evoke that moment in history.

3. Visit Jennifer Weiner’s website at to learn more about her and her books, and follow her on Twitter @jenniferweiner.

Customer Reviews

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Mrs. Everything 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
AnitaG 9 days ago
Books with long sweeping timelines can always pull me in. The length alone tells me I’m going to get to really know these characters, not just a small snippet of their lives. Jennifer Weiner tells the story of Jo and Bethie, young girls when we meet them in the 1950’s, and how two sisters raised in the same Jewish home, in a nice Jewish suburb of Detroit can be very different. Bethie is the younger of the sisters, and she is everything her mother could wish for, pretty, talented, obedient. Jo is challenging, questioning, and her own person. Her mother struggles understanding her, and her father is the one who comes in to smooth things over, to take her away from that pain. Jo knows she is different, Jo knows that she is what her own mother calls “unnatural”, Jo likes girls. Being gay in the 50’s, 60’s and on wasn’t easy. Jo battles this desire most of her life. Weiner lets history take Jo and Bethie along for the ride in a turbulent 60’s and 70’s, Coming of age in a time of political and social turmoil, the choices each of them make is paramount to where they end up later in life. The book follows along as the sisters leave college, take other paths and age. Nothing is lost on the fact that it ends taking note of the 2016 election and the beginning of the #metoo movement, pivotal times for women’s rights. Just as sisters do in real life, they are best friends and worst enemies, they are brutally honest and hurt each other, yet they are also there to save one another. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book. The characters are the same age as my own sisters, two very different women just as Weiner’s sisters are. I thought of them so much while I read this. I also thought of my daughter, a gay woman who has been able to be herself, out and honest since her teen years. I know how lucky she is but also how judgmental and ignorant so many people still are of her, and all people or aren’t like them. Reading Mrs. Everything is an emotional journey, one of wanting to reach out and comfort the characters, wanting to slap others who didn’t step in to help, and also cheering Jo and Bethie on. I have read most of Jennifer Weiner’s books and I believe this to be her best work yet. She has created a story that will grab you, turning pages, longing to know more, invested in the characters and crying when the last page is read. Thank you again to Net Galley and Atria books for an early copy, and thank you always to Jennifer Weiner for sharing your words. Here is a link to an article Jennifer Weiner wrote for the NY Times about writing this book for her mother.
Piney10 9 days ago
3.25. I read a lot of reviews that raved about this book. I found this book very shallow, simplistic, and hard to connect with. A lot of nostalgia for the 50s, 60s, 70s, etc. but that was the high point. The plot of the novel was well intentioned and if it had more depth and reality to it, it might have made it more likeable for me.
paulalala09 9 days ago
Mrs. Everything creates a fantastic story built around the tumultuous ‘60s and continuing up to the present. If you lived through those years, the story rings so true to the time and to the struggles of women in a time when changes were erupting daily. If you did not live it, Mrs. Everything is such a great tribute to that time and will transport you to a day of constraint vs. freedom for women. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Xkoqueen 7 hours ago
A smart, thoughtful, and timely exploration of two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the present as they struggle to find their places—and be true to themselves—in a rapidly evolving world. Mrs. Everything is an ambitious, richly textured journey through history—and herstory—as these two sisters navigate a changing America over the course of their lives. The times, they were a changing…and author Jennifer Weiner takes her readers through the tumultuous changes from the 1950s to the present. Many reviewers are touting this book as an ode to women, and in addition to covering a myriad of women’s issues, it is a detailed work of {recent} historical fiction. Even though I didn’t feel overly connected to any of the characters, I liked them and felt their sacrifices and losses. Much of Jo and Bethie’s lives are constrained by social mores. The lives of the next generation of sisters-- Kim, Melissa and Lila—are defined more by their choices. Each of these sisters lives reflects a different path—having it all, choosing career over family, and wanting only to be a mother. I appreciated the detailed research and Ms. Weiner’s inclusion of so much pop culture—from Prell shampoo to Jane Fonda’s workout videos; however, I felt the author tried too hard to include everything in her latest novel. Granted that period of time was chock full of events and fads, but Bethie and Jo experiencing every possible woman’s issue during the decades covered in this novel was too much for me. If some of it could have happened to friends not just the sisters, it might have been more palatable. Ms. Weiner covers corporal punishment, inappropriate/pedophile advances, closet lesbians, drug use and peddling, rape, rebirthing phenomenon, interracial relationships, equal rights protests, women’s struggle to have it all, abortion, and even #metoo. I’ve probably left some issues out, and all of that is on top of all the iconic pop culture included. Mrs. Everything is a fantastically detailed and well-written book of history and women’s history over several decades, and it is well worth the read for young women. They might appreciate how much has changed and how much they benefit from the women who pushed for those changes. More mature women will appreciate the trip down memory lane, perhaps seeing with fresh eyes all that they and their mothers lived through.
TheModestReader 1 days ago
It took me a while to understand what the connection of the title was to the rest of the book, but once I got it, it hit me like a ton of bricks: Who is Mrs. Everything? Why are women still trying to have it all and do it all to please everyone else? And what are the stakes to be who you truly want to be? I absolutely love that this story starts in the ’50s and make its way to the present day. We not only get a glimpse into these women’s lives, but in some cases, we get their whole story, from childhood to old age… and how much the world changes from decade to decade, even now. These characters are rich, deeply developed women who feel real and relatable. From Jo, who could never quite fit in; her sister Bethie, who wants nothing more than to fit in, to her detriment; their mother, Sarah, who does whatever it takes to survive, while also trying to be the perfect housewife; and every other woman they encounter along the way. Their stories demonstrate the power (and the struggle) of women and how much we endure every day while trying to fit into the standards set upon us by society. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll feel like you’re part of the sisterhood… for better or for worse. 5 STARS
Marlene976 3 days ago
Beyond a doubt one of the best books of 2019. The first sentence in this book story grabs you right away, the character development is superb, the detail in the writing, the imagery is excellent. The plot weaves in and out . and Jo and Bethie's lives move in so many unexpected directions. It was a great journey!
Anonymous 4 days ago
I liked the storyline and the characters. I’m not a fan of this style of over-descriptive writing when it serves no particular purpose. Overall, entertaining, but not a story I will remember for long.
bookluvr35SL 4 days ago
This book is about Jo and Bethie.... two sisters growing up in Detroit in the 50's. The story takes you through both of their lives....through their childhood, college and adulthood. The girls were as different as they possibly could be, with their lives taking two very different (and unexpected) directions. I am a huge fan of this author and this book did not disappoint. It was easy to get lost in the story. This is a great book, and I definitely recommend it.
andi22 4 days ago
Meh. The book was certainly a stroll down memory lane. There were many instances that resonated. From a description of a suitcase "...cardboard and covered in a blue tweedy fabric [with] a stretchy pale-blue satin pocket...stitched inside" to the many growing up 50s and 60s references of things that no longer exist. Who uses the term "dungarees" anymore? The Hollywood diet. And the whole late '60s-'70s scene. Certainly I understood all the references, but I was never engaged. I did enjoy some of the humor--but there was not enough of it. "My problem is that a lot of things taste as good as thin feels." And "Once Shelly had owned a collection of high-heeled shows that would have rivaled any boutique's. Now she had artiritis and flats." Jewish sisters Bethie and Jo from 1951 to 2016. Many changes in their relationship and one another's lives. And their mother. Way too drawn out and dramatic. The book was seriously too long to wait for a payoff that didn't come. I expected much more from the author.
Anonymous 5 days ago
This is a sweeping family saga that mainly mainly focuses on the story of 2 sisters over the course of their lives. There is a vulnerability and rawness in the author's telling of this story (possbily because it is loosely written about her own mother?). It is a story of female struggles during the 60's and beyond. Many difficult subject's are tackled in this book - race, religion, sexual preference, etc. and it is timely that it follows on the heels of the #metoo movement. A must read for all females.
Shelley-S-Reviewer 6 days ago
Oh my gosh, I devoured this 470 page book in two sittings. Mrs. Everything has everything and is everything I want in a book. My 109th book of 2019 and I have to say that this is, by far, the best book I have read, so far, this year. Another easy and engaging read from Jennifer Weiner. Her books are easy to pick up, but not easy to put down. This story was so authentic, it resonated with me on so many levels. I have enjoyed many other novels by Ms. Weiner, she has a special way of giving her characters such depth and insight and also includes a lot of humor and believable plots. I never know how things are going to turn out which I love, so many writers are so predictable. Jennifer Weiner is original and entertaining and, as always, I look forward to her next book. Ms. Weiner has definitely done her homework before stepping back in time and she gives her characters difficult themes with which to grapple, such as rape, civil rights, addiction, gay rights, abortion, eating disorders and feminism. She also gets a strong handle on the attitudes and perceptions of society at the different times during the story. There are many elements about this book that I admire; not least the author’s ability to transport us through the decades and write with the mind of a child and a gay woman. Her characters are not without flaws, but you still want to see them happy in the end. I also like how her endings aren't perfect, but they are satisfying enough.
1st-Reader-of-stories 7 days ago
Mrs Everything #. NetGalley Jennifer Weiner. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ As a child during the 40 and 50s, I could identify with some of the topics the author addresses in this book. Some timeframes and events felt familiar, but unfortunately I could not agree that some of the subject matter was properly related to my memories that I hold dearly for this era in our history. The story was scattered and not cohesive as a reader would have enjoyed. The reviews on this book have been scattered and unfortunately, I can only give it 3⭐️⭐️⭐️. There is some sexual content that would bother some readers, so you need to advise them of them so they can judge for themselves as to if they want to read it. ⭐️⭐️⭐️ I was provided an advanced read copy of this book for an honest review by NetGalley and the publisher. Thank you for the opportunity.
marongm8 7 days ago
I was so stricken by the writing of Jennifer Weiner. This book was so brilliantly written and the story left me curious to research the sisters more because I was so intrigued by their lives and their adventures with their families. I also find a story like this inspirational to read when the primary focus is on self-discovery. We tend to be caught up with all the struggles, issues, and problems in the world that we forget who we really are and what we were meant to do in the first place. I also love the fact that this book is also a historical fiction novel that captures the essence of the 1950s and transports you into the decade following the sisters along their travels and adventures. We will consider adding this title to our Fiction section at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
Anonymous 7 days ago
Flawless summer reading
Laura Fuller 8 days ago
Jennifer Weiner knows how to paint a vivid picture featuring engaging characters and her talents were on full display with this novel! Having grown up in Michigan, I loved how accurate her depictions of familiar landmarks and cities were. The characters were emotionally engaging; I laughed and cried with them and their struggles were very tangible. Parts of this were very sensitive and personal, but Weiner handled delicate details with respect and did not belittle her characters. I couldn't help but be pulled into Jo and Bethie's lives and stayed up late many nights to spend more time with them. Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me with an ARC.
VWEIR01 8 days ago
It is difficult for me to describe just how much I loved this book. Jennifer Weiner hasn't published a book in four years and this one was definitely worth the wait. I felt like I related to so much about this novel: the relationship between sisters, the relationship between mother and daughter, trying to find your true self...all of it is in this book and done in such a way that it's impossible to put down. Weiner tackles issues such as racism, sexism, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, even the current #metoo movement. As readers, we watch how these issues unfold in the contrasting viewpoints of sisters Jo and Bethie over six decades. The seamless back and forth between the sisters allows us to view the world through different lenses in a way that is moving, funny, heartbreaking, and empowering, all at the same time, and I didn't want the story to end. I've recommended this to my book club because I know they will love it and will continue to recommend it to everyone. *Special thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
SouthernMamaK 8 days ago
This was a tough read from the start. The way things would end for one of the lead characters was known from the start. That part, at least for me, made it tough to continue because I hate becoming invested into any one character when I have a keen understanding of how their story will end. That said, the decision to continue reading was the right one. The story follows the life and loves of Jo and Bethie; two sisters, raised in the Jewish culture, in the time before Civil Rights was granted. Early on, it's clear Jo (the older of the two) views the world differently than her mother (a woman who can only be described as conventional) and younger sister (upon whom her mother dotes). Jo has an affinity for sports (both playing and watching), prefers pants over dresses, and would rather read than cook--all to her mother's chagrin. After a childhood experience opens Jo's eyes to the inequality of the world, she becomes passionate about effecting change; it's a crusade which becomes more personal with the realization that she likes women, not men. That realization becomes the catalyst for setting Jo upon a path she never imagined. Meanwhile, younger sister Bethie is more than content with the ideas of conventionality; being the princess of the family, she adores the idea of turning into a carbon copy of her mother. To her, there could be nothing better. However, after a family tragedy, Bethie has a traumatic experience and her view of the world and her place in it becomes less certain. She becomes disillusioned with the world and her place within it. In a story which spans more than six decades, there's a lot to unpack , and we're able to see how both Jo and Bethie transform, contort, and find peace with who they are. There were times when I wanted to shake Jo and outright scream at Bethie. Since the story was told using alternating perspectives (via the alternating of chapters), it was easy to gain perspective into the thoughts of each woman (about both shared experiences and conversations had with each other); this often highlighted how easily communication--or a lack thereof--can cause rifts that become hard to heal. The paths Jo and Bethie take, to become the versions of themselves they most want to be, is lovely and messy to watch; as a bystander, you see how bumpy and painful their paths are (particularly in Jo's case. My heart ached for her on more than one occasion), and you develop an intimate knowledge of how difficult it is for them to get to that point. While Bethie's maturation was especially gratifying to watch, I wanted more for Jo. The road was bumpy for both women , and life threw its fair share of curveballs, but the bonds of sisterhood remained intact--even when it was easier to let them fall to the wayside. The story is sprawling, and beautiful, and once it got going, it was difficult to step away from the lives of these two women. In the end, this was a book about the bonds we make and how each can either make or break us.
Jolie 9 days ago
I wasn’t too sure if I was going to like Mrs. Everything. I have had bad luck with novels that follow families over the years. I either lose interest halfway through the book or the book goes off the rails. I am happy to say that I did not lose interest in Mrs. Everything. The book also didn’t go off the rails. The plotlines for Mrs. Everything were terrific. They were well written. I loved that the author chose to have certain events as the background to Jo and Bethie’s lives. That added enough realism to the book. Out of the two storylines, Jo’s touched me the most. She grew up with a mother who didn’t understand her. Jo was a lesbian who was forced to marry to keep up appearances. She gave up her dreams to help Bethie. But she wasn’t perfect. That is what I liked the most about her character. She wasn’t perfect, and she owned it. I wasn’t a huge fan of Bethie but I did feel bad for her. What happened to her as a young teenager was awful, and should have never happened. Her rebellion was a direct result of that. I didn’t like her holier than thou attitude when she was visiting Jo. It left a bad taste in my mouth. She did redeem herself in the latter half of the book. She more than redeemed herself in my eyes. I liked how the author chose to address Jo’s sexuality. Instead of making everything sunshine and unicorns, she decided to portray everything Jo went through realistically. I loved it. I did not like Lila, but I understood her. She was suffering from her parents’ divorce, moving, and her mother coming out. She acted out. She was unlikable. Again, I loved it. The end of Mrs. Everything had me in tears. I was a blubbering mess. And the epilogue. Oh, my poor heart. But, I wouldn’t have had the book any other way.
Noire 9 days ago
I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner is a woman’s fiction story of two sisters Jo and Bethie Kaufman that follows the arc of their lives from the 1950’s to the present. The sisters would be about 10 years older than I am so much of what they experience over the course of the story is familiar to me. I had high expectations for this book as I enjoy Jennifer Weiner’s books enough that I have re-read several of them however I could not connect with any of the characters and while I found Jo to be the most sympathetic, I found her later passiveness to be disconcerting, that her strong and bright character up until she graduated from college became a shadow of her former self for much of the book was a disappointment. The main emotion that I took away from the book was guilt felt by the various characters, guilt about not being the daughter her mother wanted, guilt about her sexuality, guilt about not looking after her sister, guilt about not loving her husband, guilt about not being a good mother, guilt about believing she ruined her sisters life, guilt about not believing her sister when she asked for help, it carries on through the generations of women in the book creating a pall over the story and while I have felt many of the same feelings I found reading about them in characters I couldn’t relate to be more annoying than anything else. Publishing Date June 11, 2019 #NetGalley #SimonandSchusterCanada #AtriaBooks
trutexan 9 days ago
I finished this book on Mother’s Day, which made me start wondering more about how the mother in the story must have felt throughout the years of raising her two daughters and on into their adulthood. I believe the daughters checked just about every box under the heading “things that make your mother worry.” It seems as if the author did not avoid any subject in telling the story. Drugs, rape, racial tensions, unplanned pregnancy, alternative lifestyles…it’s pretty much all included. If one sister didn’t do it, the other one did. In spite of their bad behavior, they were likable girls—good girls. It was interesting to see how their roles switched and evolved as they passed through the various stages of life. Just when I would think Jo was my favorite character, Bethie would come to the forefront and take the spotlight. By the end of the book the sisters had made their peace with the past and with how they failed each other at various times of their life. They were close and supportive—just what family is all about. I liked this story and the author kept me engaged throughout. As far as women’s issues go, readers will either see the glass as half full or half empty. I guess it’s all in your perspective. Thanks go to NetGalley and Atria Books for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
LiteratureWithLylan 9 days ago
Happy Pub Day to this FIVE STAR beauty! @jenniferweinerwrites is probably one of my favorite authors now! It’s honestly really difficult to give this book anything less than a 4 Star just based off of the content and message. It is such a relatable novel that hits so many important points. * IT REALLY IS OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT. * Everyone has their own story. Following the stories of Jo and Bethie were both difficult (because they can really hit home for some people) and easy at the same time. The sisters are so very different. They each have their own story and both stories are equally amazing. This book touches on sexual identity, sexual abuse, drug abuse, eating disorders, abortion, gender roles, and so much more. * Mrs. Everything is a book for everyone because Mrs. Everything is EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. It’s about finding yourself and staying true to who you are.
PegGlover 9 days ago
Mrs. Everything tells the story of two sisters, with very different personalities and struggles. Jo, the oldest sister, was a tomboy, and at odds with her mother most of the time. Bethie, on the other hand, was the princess of the family, and their mother’s favorite daughter. The girl’s father showered the two sisters with love. But, he took Jo under his wing, and protected her, when her mother was being exceptionally unreasonable and wrathful. Jo and Bethie both made it to adulthood, but not before life’s hardships and trials battered and bruised them. After being weighted down with dark secrets, emotional scars and baggage, acceptance and healing for the sisters were within reach. Mrs. Everything would make a great book-club choice. There are several areas of interest in this book, growing up in the 1950s, complex family relationships, homosexuality, dark secrets, and self-acceptance. Although the book covers serious subjects and brings the reader through a gamut of emotions, it’s not a depressing read. The author sprinkles humor throughout the book. Mrs. Everything is an enjoyable and thoughtful read. Thank you, Atria Books and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
teachlz 9 days ago
Jennifer Weiner has written an amazing, intriguing, riveting, page-turning, emotional, intense, and thought-provoking novel. The Genres for this Novel are Women’s Fiction, Fiction, and Domestic Fiction. The timeline for this novel starts in the 1950s to the present in Detroit. I love the way the author describes her characters, events, and landscape in the story. The author describes her dramatic characters as complex, complicated and dysfunctional. Several questions and themes can be seen in this novel. What exactly is a woman’s role in society? As the timeline progresses, do women have more choices and decisions to make? Can one be a better mother than their mother was to them? Will women ever be considered equal to men, in education, salary, the workplace, and the family? I appreciate that Jennifer Weiner discusses the relationships between mothers and daughters, sisters, and domestic partnerships. Also discussed are the importance of family, love, emotional support, forgiveness, acceptance, second chances, and hope. Jo and Beth Kaufman are brought up in the 1950s and are very different. One is considered “different” and acting too “boyish” for a girl, and the other feels that being pretty is about power. One challenges the fairness in the world, and the other is more concerned with what other people think of her. Their mother shows her disappointment and favoritism. This is a traditional time when father’s work, mother’s stay at home, and everything seems to be in black and white, with little room for areas of gray. As the years pass, and things seem to get “more” modern, there are more confusing choices and decisions for women. That area that was black and white, has expanded with more gray. Do women have to get married and have children if they don’t want to? Can women work and have a family? I highly recommend and reflect on this amazing book. I still have a book-hangover and am deep in thought!! Kudos, Jennifer Weiner for such a well-written and descriptive book!
writertoreader 10 days ago
This book was a welcome read for the summer. It tells the incredible tale of two women from their childhood in the 1950s to their adulthood through the tumultuous ups and downs including important themes such as racism and abuse. I love Weiner's writing style as she is able to truly pack a profound emotional punch.
Anonymous 10 days ago
I think I will have a hard time expressing how much I loved this book. The layers to each character were so deep and so well developed that I found myself wanting to read slower in order to soak them all in and not miss one piece of a character which could mean so much. The issues addressed in this book were huge! Sexuality, eating disorders, drug abuse, neglect, broken homes, this book had them all. And yet, Weiner was able to write in such a way that it didn’t feel heavy or unrealistic. Like how could one family go through all those things? You didn’t question it, you just completely buy it and then go along for the ride. I am so happy that Weiner decided to write something that was out of her wheelhouse. She’s a genius at it!