First You Try Everything, by Jane McAfferty

First You Try Everything.jpgFirst You Try Everything by Jane McAfferty is a gripping and heartbreaking tale of the dismantling of a marriage.  Ben and Evvie spent many years happily encased in the life they built for themselves, somewhat isolated from mainstream society.  At some point, Ben has decided that his life with Evvie is no longer enough, and just a few pages into the book, it is clear he will be leaving her to begin a new life elsewhere.

One of my absolute favorite things about this book is the switch between Ben and Evvie's points of view.  From the beginning, it is pretty obvious that Evvie is a little off; her actions seem a bit manic at times.  I would find myself questioning how exactly the seemingly-normal Ben had managed to spend so many years with her, then the viewpoint would change and I would see her in a different light.  Occasionally I would think Ben was being incredibly selfish, then I would read a chapter from his view and my emotions would change again.  The flip-flop between the two characters was incredibly well written, and I found myself sympathizing with both of them in turn.

After Ben leaves, Evvie's quirks deepen and her grasp on reality begins to slip.  It is both heartbreaking and maddening to watch her doggedly pursuing Ben, knowing that he no longer wants the life he had built with her.  When Evvie's obsession leads her to a dangerous (and a bit ridiculous) scheme, we realize just how much damage two people really can do to one another.

As I said, I sympathized with both characters, but I also wanted to shake them and tell them to grow up.  Stand up for yourself, Evvie, and get in the real world!  Ben-have a real, grown-up conversation with your wife instead of just walking out!  Ultimately, it was the ability to identify with both characters in the midst of their very different levels of heartbreak that made this novel really work for me.  Although things might not have turned out exactly like I hoped they would, I was happy that Evvie found some peace for herself in the end.

I very much enjoyed this book, and I feel like there were a lot of little nuances to the story that I may have overlooked, so I am interested to see what other readers pick up on that I missed.

I received a copy of First You Try Everything to review as part of a TLC Book Tour.  For more reviews, check out the full list.  Thanks to TLC for the opportunity to read this book!


  1. Identifying with the characters in a book is key for me - if I don't have that, I generally won't enjoy the story. I'm glad to see that you had such a great experience with this book! Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

  2. Thanks, Heather! I appreciate the opportunity to review this book!


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