Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: All She Ever Wanted by Rosalind Noonan

Goodreads Summary:

Chelsea Maynard has spent her lifetime planning for the much awaited start of her family, the joy of caring for a new life in the world, the intimacy of bonding with a child. But after a difficult birth, her careful planning is shattered by exhaustion. Numbness replaces her connection to the people around her and the baby daughter who needs her. Her husband Leo Green, her sister Emma and friends keep telling her she’s not herself, but no one can seem to help her find her way back to the happiness that had warmed her life before little Annabelle came along.

When Leo heads off for a business trip, Chelsea is overwhelmed by the endless duties of caring for a crying baby and the dark mood that pulls her down, immobilizing her. Her sister says it’s postpartum depression, but the doctor passes it off as the baby blues and encourages her to get exercise and eat right. Easy for him to say. He doesn’t have a soft, pink baby shrieking at the top of her lungs, eliciting looks of annoyance and horror at the park and the grocery store. Chelsea’s collapse is inevitable, but what’s the harm in letting a baby cry it out? She collapses in bed. Restored by sleep, Chelsea goes to the crib in the morning but finds it empty.

Her baby is gone?

Maybe she left her in the stroller…or the swing…or the bouncy chair? But her panicked search turns up no sign of Annabelle.

Her baby is gone...

And Chelsea doesn’t have a clue as to who would have taken her away.

When the police respond with a thorough search and endless questions, Chelsea realizes she can’t clearly recall the details of that night. Why can’t she remember? Has she blocked it out? Could she have done something to make her own baby stop crying? Did she act on the dark visions that have paraded through her fractured mind?

The race is on to find baby Annabelle. Time is of the essence in a case like this. Her baby is out there…somewhere…and Chelsea is determined to cooperate with the police, even if the evidence points right back to her.

Publication Date: December 24, 2012

This book is slightly frustrating to review because the beginning was so good. I really loved it and felt the author did an amazing job of portraying a woman suffering from post-partum depression. However, the abduction plot didn’t pack the same emotional punch and I became annoyed with some of the characters after Annabelle goes missing.

I’ve never read a book with the POV of a woman who has PPD. Chelsea’s feelings were equally tragic and horrifying. The author did an amazing job of drawing the reader in and making you feel like you were gripped in the throngs of depression right alongside her. Her thoughts were dark and you could feel things spiraling more and more out of control.

I also enjoyed how the author was able to portray the frustrations of dealing with insurance providers. If anyone has ever experienced problems getting claims paid, they’ll be able to relate to Chelsea’s growing aggravation over having to harass the insurance company to pay the bills for her and her daughter.

The further I read, the more I realized what a dangerous path Chelsea was heading down. She’s exhausted and overwhelmed while feeling no connection to her daughter. She turns to a doctor for help, but he shoos her away saying she’s just experiencing the “baby blues.”

As gripping as the first half of the novel was, it lost some of its luster in the second half. The mystery aspect was good because the author definitely kept you guessing on who took baby Annabelle. However, the main characters lack of realistic emotions diminished the suspense for me. The parents were never hysterical over losing their baby or worried she was dead. They wanted her back, but seemed pretty certain she was being well cared for and went about their days in seemingly normal ways. Also, I would’ve thought more focus would’ve been placed on Chelsea as the suspect, but that was never the case.

The secondary characters were interesting enough. The neighbor provided some comic relief and Chelsea’s sister helped paint a picture of what led to her sister’s downward spiral. I really didn’t care for Chelsea’s husband Leo at all. I couldn’t believe he would go away for a week when Chelsea was having fantasies of knives falling on her daughter and thinking about smashing their car into a guardrail. Plus, he makes a gourmet dinner a couple of days after his infant daughter has been snatched. I guess people react differently, but it didn’t sit well with me.

I would read another book from the author. I was in the mood for a gripping family drama and this book was certainly satisfying.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book for review!


  1. Sounds like a good premise that missed the mark a bit. Certainly an interesting plot! Well written review, Heather. WRITE ON!

  2. Thank you for the honest review. The plot is really intense, I wanted to get the book right away. It's a pity the characters didn't respond the way people should have responded after a tragedy. I am a mother and heaven knows what state I will be if my only child goes missing. Making a gourmet meal is certainly unnatural.

    1. I think that was the main reason I was sort of turned off. I'm a mother as well and I just didn't see how you could return to normal so quickly (they had a plumber come in the day after she was taken). I think the book would've been much more powerful if readers could feel their anguish.