Book Reviews

Book Review: We All Love the Beautiful Girls

We All Love the Beautiful Girls,

by Joanne Proulx

Publication: Grand Central Publishing (August 28, 2018)

beautiful girls


About the book: 

Who suffers when the privileged fall?
One frigid winter night, Mia and Michael Slate’s comfortable world dissolves in an instant when they discover that their best friend has cheated them out of their life savings. At the same time, a few doors down, their teenaged son passes out in the snow at a party–a mistake whose consequences will shatter not just their family, but an entire community.
In this arresting, masterful page-turner shot through with fierce, clear-eyed compassion and a sublime insight into human fragility, award-winning novelist Proulx explores the savage underpinnings of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge–and a multilayered portrait of love, in all its glory, that no reader will soon forget.

My Review:

We All Love the Beautiful Girls is the second novel by Joanne Proulx. This story centers around a family of Michael, his wife Mia, and their seventeen-year-old son, Finn. Initially, Michael and Mia are the perfect, happy couple. Michael runs a business with his best friend Peter, Mia is a former banker turned photographer, and as a family, they spend a great deal of time with their best friends Peter, his wife Helen, and their daughter, Frankie. But in a single night, their world comes crashing down as Michael and Mia discover that Peter manipulated paperwork so that Michael is not a partner in their business and Finn overindulged at a party resulting in life-changing damage. The author then weaves the tale of what can happen to a family when things start to fall apart. 

Honestly, I am still torn over how I feel about this book. First of all, I didn’t find any of the characters likable. Most had some good qualities here and there, but it is absolutely the biggest example of flawed characters that I can recall reading. I loved Michael and Mia’s relationship in the beginning, but as the book progresses and the family falls apart, their marriage deteriorates rapidly and for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious.

Finn suffers serious physical consequences after drinking, trying drugs for the first time, and then passing out in the snow in temperatures well below zero. I wanted to sympathize with him but found it almost impossible. Finn had very little personality and only really showed interest in one thing – Jess – his previous babysitter, a family friend, neighbor, and the girl who took his virginity. His obsession with her and having sex with her, despite her being 5-6 years older and having a serious boyfriend, became tiresome very early on. Then there was Peter and Helen’s daughter Frankie. She appeared to have a little more personality than Finn, but her character was unremarkable. I did sympathize with her a great deal, however, because it was Frankie that suffered the most in the aftermath of Peter betraying Michael. Mia develops an inappropriate relationship with a former colleague, Michael starts hanging out with a teenage boy who gets high under the bridge, and Finn carries on doing nothing, continuing to take any responsibility for his fate and his relationships with his “friends,” even after being confronted, beat up, and so on. 

Although I got into it eventually, the writing style and points of view were very confusing for a great deal of the novel, although Proulx’ talent in writing was still evident. Her imagery and purposeful display of raw and uncomfortable emotions are what kept me going with this story. My biggest problem was with the characters themselves, as well as, a slow-moving journey with these characters with only a few surprises scattered in the novel after the initial conflict. I loved Frankie’s reflections at the end of the novel, which humanized her more than any of the other characters, but I was left wondering if any of the other characters will make any changes in their new lives after everything that happened. I got the impression that this was not likely, but I can still hope. 

We All Love the Beautiful Girls is definitely a thought-provoking novel that is descriptive at the same time as being somewhat vague. This book did not leave me feeling happy and carefree by any means, but I am glad that I chose to read it.

*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. 

Purchase We All Love the Beautiful Girls on Amazon.


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