Flawed but beautiful. The path of life brings us love, and so dost cometh rot. I think that’s the first haiku I’ve ever written before, and it could also describe my feelings of this book. Then again…let’s face it, that was a pretty terrible piece of poetry. I’m often impatient and want to get on with the big picture in the first draft of my works.
Addison Sullivan from Lyndale ends up in a train accident one day, but while on that train she met and talked with someone quite handsome. She hopes to find this guy again, but the guy probably ran off or wasn’t injured and was discharged too early, because he got away from her amid the wreckage. Addie returns to her life with her frenetic single mother, her isolated older brother Caleb, her aspiring actress of a friend named Katy, and her beloved violin she’s practising in hopes of being good enough to go to NYU. Ever since their parents’ divorce, she wants to leave her small town. In the meantime, as life goes on post the crash, she has slight hope in the back of her head maybe she’ll meet this Bus Boy again down the road.
And that’s all I’m going to say. My synopsis gives pretty much nothing away, and that’s the synopsis I wish this book used. If you’re thinking of giving this book a chance, I strongly advise you not to read the book’s actual description. I did, and I can say having gotten through it that I would’ve enjoyed it so much more if I’d gone into it completely blind. Everyone We’ve Been is a heart-destroying beautiful book that has too much of its premise spoiled by shameless giveaways in the description. The praise on this book says it’s full of twists and mystery, and those it does have. But they’re minimal compared to the big point of the book.
One sad flaw is, even if you go in completely blind, having not read the synopsis, around the halfway point you realize almost the exact angle the book is going to go, and you’re right. The punch still lands, but it telegraphs its swing. It tells several situations at once, and it’s sometimes effective, but when it’s not, it feels like it’s rehashing the same plot points just to fill pages.
But time for some positives. Addie and those around her are very relatable as friends who have big dreams and are working towards them but they have those layers to people who know they might not actually be good enough. And we get a romance involving a guy who smokes to keep his many rough patches under control. You don’t read many romance books with a cute guy who does that, and Sarah Everett did a great job showing us how that doesn’t make them weak or bad news, and there are lots of layers to people who feel they need certain ways to stay sane in their different worlds.
The book was a little slow, and it has too many new chapters, but Addie’s story was very tragic and it hit me where it hurt, especially since there’s pretty much nothing I didn’t buy in this book. I understood everyone’s emotions. My mixed reaction made this one of those books where the ending mattered an awful lot. I don’t normally enjoy books that choose to end on the route this one took, but somehow this one worked for me. It brings slight extra suspense and brings sadness without hopelessness, and it made me think deep and hard about the jubilant ups and the soul-crushing downs of romance, and what the future may hold.