Bridget Asher’s All of Us and Everything tells the story of Augusta Rockwell, her three daughters Liv, Ru, and Esme (and Esme’s daughter Atty), and the complicated relationship they all have not only among the four of them, but that they all have with Augusta’s husband, Nick Flemming.
Through witty, realistic dialogue that shows the complications of familial relationships, Asher demonstrates how complicated life itself is. Augusta Rockwell is an independent young lady who does not feel as though marriage is necessary, though she realizes it is something that will make her parents happy. At least that’s how she feels before she meets the dashing young Nick Flemming, with whom she falls in love, but who then disappears without a trace.
The two are able to reconnect, but their “marriage” defies convention and both of their expectations, and Augusta ends up a single mother to her daughters, who each defy conventions in their own particular ways.
Esme is a mother to Atty, and the two spend the novel recovering from a revelation about Atty’s father, Doug. Both must start over, but first they must learn how.
Liv is a self-medicating divorcée several times over, and she is on the hunt for the next perfect husband—or happiness.
Ru, the youngest of the sisters, is a novelist who happened to turn her older sister’s experience with a boy into a best-selling novel. She’s engaged to be married, and is trying to write her next bestseller.
Atty Rockwell, Esme’s daughter, is about to head to college, but must first deal with the personal earthquake of her parents’ relationship, and discovering where she truly belongs. She tweets and hashtags her life along the way, with such pithiness as #sisterhood, #uglysisterhood, and #sickofsisterhood, as she witnesses her aunts attempt to reclaim their sisterhood after the unexpected return of their father, Nick Flemming.
There were many times when the dialogue between characters reminded me of The Royal Tenenbaums, it was so witty and dripping with sarcasm. But beneath the sarcasm and witty retorts were all of the insecurities that sometimes would surface, and other times would not. They were, though, always there—for everyone.
Ultimately, All of Us and Everything is about the complications within families, and the complications within individuals. Atty’s realization about her search for Nancy Drew books lost in the flooding after Hurricane Sandy sums up the major complications for the sisters and for Atty:
There was also her ever-growing love-hate relationship with Nancy Drew and some unattainable version of self.
In the novel, everyone seeks that “unattainable version of self” they think they must find in order to feel “complete.” As they say, the story is always in the journey, but it is especially true with this offering from Bridget Asher.
The Rockwell women are nothing if not . . . Well, it’s complicated. When the sisters—Esme, Liv, and Ru—were young, their eccentric mother, Augusta, silenced all talk of their absent father with the wild story that he was an international spy, always away on top-secret missions. But the consequences of such an unconventional upbringing are neither small nor subtle: Esme is navigating a failing marriage while trying to keep her precocious fifteen-year-old daughter from live-tweeting every detail. Liv finds herself in between relationships and rehabs, and Ru has run away from enough people and problems to earn her frequent flier miles. So when a hurricane hits the family home on the Jersey Shore, the Rockwells reunite to assess the damage—only to discover that the storm has unearthed a long-buried box. In a candid moment, Augusta reveals a startling secret that will blow the sisters’ concept of family to smithereens—and send them on an adventure to reconnect with a lost past . . . and one another.