Everything She Wants
by Angela Patrick Wynn
(Harper Paperbacks, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN: 0-06-101363-3
***
"You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need."

- The Rolling Stones

Everything She Wants is a first novel by Angela Patrick Wynn. It is the story of Renea Parks, a 24-year-old woman who struggles to be all things to all people. Her parents died seven years before the novel begins.

Renea is the only daughter in a family of four. Her brother Frank is in the military. Another brother Dwight (aka Boonie) recently died after the steroids he used for bodybuilding destroyed his kidneys. Her youngest brother, Brian is fourteen. After Boonie's death, Brian was sent to live with an aunt in Ohio until Renea can finish college in California.

Renea Parks is on a mission to finish school, establish her career, take care of Brian and change out of her Wonder Woman costume before anyone notices.

Her plans are derailed when Brian is implicated in drug trafficking and murder in Michigan. Brian was driving the getaway car and is charged as an accomplice. His case is brought to the attention of a judge who takes an interest in first-time offenders. Renae rushes to Michigan to be with him.

Brian's unusual family circumstances prompts the judge to assign his case to social worker Aaron "A.J." Martin. A.J. takes on Brian and Renae, trying to bring them closer together. Brian resents what he sees as Renae's choice of school and career over him. Renae resents Brian's surliness and lack of appreciation for her sacrifice.

Everything She Wants is a good first effort by Angela Patrick Wynn. Wynn generally does a good job of balancing the four tensions in Renae's life: school, work, Brian's incarceration and her growing attraction to the much older A.J. Renae shows a maturity way beyond her 24 years. Wynn wisely develops the character so that Wonder Woman eventually gives way to a less rigid woman who is able to compromise more.

The relationship between A.J. and Renae is somewhat realistic. Ghosts from his past color his approach to Renae. He fights his attraction to her with everything he's got. The secondary characters bring dimension and much needed shading to the novel. However, sometimes, the characterizations are weighted toward the extremes: the good are very, very good. There is also commentary about the criminal justice system and corporate America woven into the story. Often the novel, like its heroine takes on a monumental task.

Everything She Wants is an engaging first outing that has earned Angela Patrick Wynn a spot on my Emerging Authors List.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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