“I’d Give Anything” by Maria de los Santos is a novel about a woman, Ginny, realizing the safe, purposefully placed life she created is crumbling apart. Due to her husband, Harris, and his poor decisions, Ginny is forced to focus on how her daughter, Avery, is handling their new reality. In trying to navigate how best to shield her daughter from the pain of Harris’ mistakes, Ginny starts to peel apart the intricate safety net she created after a life-altering event as a high school senior. She comes to understand that the events she used to shape and protect her adult life, are lies. Through flashbacks aided by readings of Ginny’s old diary, you learn a bit of Ginny’s past relationships with her mother Adela, brother Trevor and a close knit group of best friends. You start to piece together and understand what has made her painstakingly protect everything she loves. The book comes to an end with Ginny coming to terms with how her own actions, fueled by a belief about her brother, have ultimately landed her life exactly where it is, filled with safe relationships and service-level feelings.
I thoroughly enjoyed traveling back in time through Ginny’s first person diary accounts and reading in her own words what it was like to live with a mother who probably shouldn’t have had children. You were glad to see she was able to find a small group of friends that made her feel protected and loved. However, the back and forth between past and present prevented the reader from fully grasping the entirety of Ginny’s relationships. Her mother was a huge part of who she was and was a focal point of her relationship with her brother, but she was a very service level character. I wanted more from Adela. Although I liked the flashbacks, I had to continually remind myself that her relationship with her husband was the reason this story started. There was too much happening in the flashbacks and in the present day and neither place in time felt developed enough. There are large parts of Ginny’s relationship with Avery that seem to go undiscussed and I felt as if there were too many plots happening to sufficiently explore each one in under 300 pages.
Overall, I enjoyed the characters and connected with many of them at different points of the book, but was left a little unfulfilled in the service-level development of those characters. It always felt as if there was something missing and I left with wanting more.
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