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All We Had: A Novel Hardcover – August 5, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (August 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476755205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476755205
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“All We Had is a remarkable combination of the fierce and the tender, taking the reader on the journey of a mother and daughter struggling against daunting odds to find a place they can call home. It is at its core a love story, sometimes heartbreaking, but always a strong, quiet and powerful look at the human heart.” (Kate Alcott, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dressmaker and The Daring Ladies of Lowell)

“A fresh voice that sculpts with words in a way that's as beautiful as it is brutal. I love this story and the hands that crafted it.” (Patricia Cornwell)

“Smart and unflinchingly honest and brilliantly voiced, All We Had is a remarkably accomplished and compelling first novel. Annie Weatherwax’s other artistic persona as a visual artist has made her an instant expert at one of the most challenging but fundamental skills of a fiction writer: the ability to render the moment to moment sensual thereness of a scene. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.” (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)

"Gritty and convincing.... A remarkably authentic story of folks on the skids... Weatherwax's smart style, crisp narrative, sharp dialogue, and vivid descriptions send a powerful message: there is hope hidden in despair." (Publishers Weekly)

"Infuses gritty humor and poignancy into the story of the hardscrabble existence of a mother and daughter… Weatherwax's tight dialogue and short, emotionally charged scenes examine hope, the meaning of home and the unbreakable bond of love between mother and daughter.” (Kathleen Gerard Shelf Awareness)

"A vivid journey into the dark side of the American Dream... alternates between black comedy and heart-breaking realism... an enjoyable read that takes an important look at economic insecurity." (Betty J. Cotter Providence Journal)

"Part commentary on the subprime crisis past, comic novel All We Had keeps you reading for its small observations." (Leigh Newman O, The Oprah Magazine)

“The most profound insights in All We Had have to do with the potential hidden costs of ‘economic recovery’…There’s much to recommend this lovely debut novel, but the best of its virtues are these truths.” (Stacia Brown The Washington Post)

About the Author

Annie Weatherwax was the 2009 winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, for years she earned a living sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for Nickelodeon, DC Comics, Pixar, and others. She is currently a full time painter and writer. All We Had is her first novel. Learn more at AnnieWeatherwax.com.

Customer Reviews

This story was so well written.
Amazon Customer
This is a story of love, hardship and survival - something we can all relate to on some level.
carol previte
The characters were so well described I could easily picture them.
patti minter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Alexandra L on August 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Annie Weatherwax’s “All We Had” is all we want in a novel: deeply observed and fully rounded characters, a compelling plot and a bold and original voice, as well as sentences so fresh that they pop off the page and yet still feel totally organic. And, when you read it a second time, you see how skillfully it is put together, the same way a second read of “Gatsby” draws your attention to the early fender benders.

“All We Had” tells the story of a mother and daughter, Rita and Ruthie Carmichael. When we meet them, it is June, 2005 and Rita is 29, Ruthie 13. They are living in Orange, California with Rita’s latest boyfriend, a next-day wall-to-wall carpeting installer named Phil. As Ruthie, the narrator, describes Phil, he is given to talking about his job “as if he were a paramedic.” Ruthie, a tomboy with a love for baseball caps, has little patience for either Phil or her mother’s eye-batting, sweet-talking act around him. She much prefers her mother’s fierce no-BS smarts to her Oscar-worthy helpless female act even though it always worked. For Rita has lost her latest part-time job at Walgreens and is utterly out of prospects. They had already moved seven times that year until “voila! out of nowhere, [Rita] produced Phil, an instant boyfriend with a house.” The problem is, according to Ruthie, “No matter how they started, all my mother’s boyfriends turned into [jerks]. It was only a matter of time before Phil did too.” Sure enough, by the end of the first chapter, Rita and Ruthie have hit the road again, with a car full of Phil’s stuff they’ve helped themselves to. This time, though, they’re heading for Boston. Rita is convinced that Ruthie is destined for a Harvard scholarship, so they might as well head in that direction.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Janice Kate on August 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I couldn’t put this book down. The writing is clean, crisp, and stunningly vivid.
The narrative begins as Ruthie and Rita need to vacate another unstable home. The protagonist, thirteen-year-old Ruthie, has not had an easy life, yet she gives amazing strength and voice to this novel. She is edgy, smart and funny, and despite the difficult situations she is placed in, she always manages to have empathy for others. When she finally finds a “family” in Fat River, we watch her relationships develop and see the depth of her character. Ruthie is brave and kind, and intensely loyal. Rita, Ruthie’s mother, might not always make the greatest choices for her daughter, but we grow to understand her limitations and see that she is doing the best that she can. This complicated mother-daughter relationship feels poignant and authentic. Ruthie must often take on the role of caretaker, and although there are moments when it’s difficult not to feel angry at Rita, we understand that she is a product of her history and circumstance. All of the characters, so complete and well-drawn, with their beauty and flaws, pull us into this narrative and move the story forward at a perfect pace. And how can you not fall in love with Peter-Pam, the warm, witty, and utterly charming waitress.
But what makes this book so outstanding is the hope it gives us—hope that there is a better life, that Ruthie can rise above the chaos and dysfunction, and that compassion and kindness really do make a difference.
Every character is unforgettable. One of the best novels I’ve read in a long time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Judith D. Collins TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 5, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A special thank you to Scribner and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

From a poverty stricken and homeless mother/daughter team, comes a powerful, witty, and heartbreaking debut novel, ALL WE HAD by talented, Annie Weatherwax (her artistic talent most definitely lends her great insight into the human heart with her rich and well-developed characters)!

Wow, I knew I was going to love ALL WE HAD, when I viewed the cover and read the summary. However, it was so much more, as this dynamic novel, did not disappoint, and exceeded all my expectations.

Thirteen year old Ruthie, has been accustomed to being the mother in the family; sharp, street smart, and a survivor. From bullying at school, to fighting off her mom’s crazy boyfriends, and finding food and shelter.

Young mother Rita has never had it easy, from her poor childhood, which carried into her adult life as a single mom, moving from one place to another, living in their car, working endless jobs, and never being able to get ahead or provide for her daughter in the way she wants.

With her good looks, she goes from one man to another and when things do not work out, mother-daughter (Thelma and Louise) hits the road again for the next opportunity, always seeking the good life. Rita has never provided Ruthie with a stable home; however, mom knows her daughter will one day achieve the college education at Harvard, she deserves and hopes for a better life than the one she has known. From evil stepfathers, abusive boyfriends, stealing, going hungry, to mortgage fraud, they have seen it all.

At the beginning of the book, the duo head out in their used Ford Escort for greener grass and blue skies.
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More About the Author

Annie Weatherwax's stories have appeared in The Sun Magazine, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. She was the 2009 winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction and has written for The New York Times. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, for years she earned a living sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for Nickelodeon, DC Comics, Pixar and others. She is currently a full time painter and writer. www.annieweatherwax.com

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