This review is written with thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for my copy of All I Ever Wanted.
Patrick and Caitlin are separating, and Patrick is determined to maintain regular contact with their children, Joel, aged ten, and Nancy, aged four. He arranges for Joel and Nancy to stay at his sister Eva's house during his weekends with the children. Eva is recently widowed. Her husband was the once famous actor, Michael Quinn, and his agents are keen to publish his diaries which will shed light on his life with Eva. As Eva comes to terms with the content of the diaries, her once talkative niece loses her ability to speak. Can Eva help Nancy to find her voice, and can they help each other to discover what they really want?
All I Ever Wanted is a novel driven by its characters, and whilst they each have their flaws, I found them all to be relatable. Caitlin, in particular, shows traits that I recognise in myself, and this helped me to engage with her character and hope that the situations in which she found herself ended well. Dillon creates voices for all the characters, not necessarily using dialogue, which allowed me to gain insight into their lives and feelings. I found this to be important, especially for Nancy, who communicates very little through speech, but whose voice is still recognised through Dillon's descriptions of her facial and non-verbal expressions.
Although All I Ever Wanted is a book I would not normally read, I found Dillon's style very easy to read. I am not familiar with selective mutism, but Dillon has researched the subject well, and used her research to create a believable situation, and I could not help but sympathise. She also raises several other themes which are relevant in today's society: relationships, love and grief - concepts of which most readers will have experience at some point in their own lives.
I found the ending of All I Ever Wanted a little predictable, and this perhaps lessened the impact of some of Dillon's themes as the novel concluded, but overall I felt that the novel was enjoyable and touched upon some important issues for the reader.
All I Ever Wanted is published on 1st December and available from Amazon.