All We Ever Wanted Was Everything
by Janelle Brown
Looking Outside for Happiness will Eventually Lead you to Looking Inside Yourself
This was a book which was easy to read, hard to put down, and I was inspired throughout it. The book brings you through characters who are looking outside of themselves for happiness while afraid of not living up to others (parents, friends or society) expectations. Because of this, there is a lot of hiding “failures” from those who are close, and finding just about any way to escape from facing the reality of the situations that arise, from the destruction or crumbling of the American Dream.
I do feel that this book brings out the theme of the American Dream rather extensively – we wanted everything: the best car, the biggest house, the largest bank account, the designer clothes, the marriage and kids with “security.” Though it does make you think about it in many different aspects, does searching after these things truly bring happiness and when these things are achieved, is there happiness? There are a lot of images of happiness/perfection in this book…For example, having the actor boyfriend makes one look good perhaps if you are looking through the eyes of a society that upholds status, but does that make you happy? Is ones identity mixed up with such a status? What happens when the relationship transitions? Does life still go on, and if so, in what way?
The cover is a beautiful and poignant illustration of the themes of the book, which I feel captured the fallout of the American Dream in a perfect way. This “American Dream” is now in transformation and will continue to transform. The cover is of an ice cream sundae which is melting and quite literally, falling apart. This is literal in the sense that Lizzie, one of the characters turns to ice cream sundaes and food to feel good, but it also represents the search for everything, and the attachment to everything outside of oneself that will bring happiness. When we hold this to be truth, naturally, it causes everything to fall down because the ultimate happiness comes from within.
I enjoyed the journey with the characters while reading this book as well as all of what it made me take a deeper look at. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, but what do we want and choose now?