Book Review: All the numbers by Judy Merrill Larsen

“How much do you love me?” Daniel asked his mother.

“I love you all the numbers.”

What begins as a sunny August afternoon on a bucolic lake turns into a tragedy when a Jet Ski swerves fatally close to shore. It’s a day Ellen Banks could never have prepared for … a day no mother should ever have to live through.

The moment her son James is killed, Ellen must face the unimaginable while trying to remain strong for her older son, Daniel, who witnessed the fateful accident and blames himself. Ellen’s shock and grief soon give way to defiance as lawyers and policemen who once vowed to support Ellen’s desire for justice succumb to political pressure and back away. Still, Ellen is determined to see the reckless young man pay for his crime and to heal her family’s deep wounds. But first, she must heal herself.

An unforgettable journey of power and emotion, All the Numbers poignantly depicts a woman’s reckoning with her own vulnerability and finding in the wisdom of motherhood the redemptive grace to begin again.

All the numbers is a masterfully written book. Judy Merrill Larsen takes you on an emotional rollercoaster of a family’s grief of losing an 11 year old boy named James. We first come upon Ellen when the event has already happened; right away the book pulls you into its emotional current and prepares you to hang on.

From that emotional beginning we move backwards and start where the evens would begin. We follow Ellen as she does the regular things we all do, she goes to the DMV and has a scuffle with the clerk about coffee. She goes shopping; she picks up her kids and listens to their demands. Don’t all of us do these same things everyday? And most of all she is looking forward to the yearly trip to the cabin. How she to know this was would be the summer all of it would change? How would any of us know?

You will cry when you read this book. You will cry as you watch Ellen make choices none of us would want to have to make about her youngest son and his death. You will cry when you see how she tries, and sometimes fails to be strong for her older son Daniel. Judy Merrill Larsen writes this book in such a way you can not help but picture it all. You can not help yourself but to feel the true raw emotion behind it.

Ellen also learns a lesson in that family is not always just blood. Her friends that’s she has known for many years stand by her through all of it. Anna and Sam are like rocks to her, and a friend she didn’t know could be made in a nurse named Laurie from the hospital. As the story continues the grief of fighting for a criminal trial introduces her to a wonderful lawyer named Bob. She feels guilty for her feelings towards him. Guilty that her sons death should bring her close to someone who might bring her happiness.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something good to read. The content is heavy, but it does have its bright points. There are happy moments, in memories and in learning how to live again after tragedy. This book teaches you that although life will not be the same, you can still live it.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: All the numbers by Judy Merrill Larsen

  1. Hi Ambrosia, I came to your blog via your Book Blogs post. Welcome! Your blog is terrific and so was that review! I have never heard of that book, but I am adding to my list of books to watch for. I’m not one of those readers who can’t read darker stories. I enjoy them for what you can get from them. Great review!

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