All of Me Wants All of You
by J.Z. Howard

"Decades ago they'd shared such an adventurous spirit; could he honestly write words reflecting the same now?"

Dean and Kate Nelson are an apparently happy couple who appear to be successful in work, in their relationship with each other, and as parents to two daughters who love and respect them. Their love is real, but emotional and physical intimacy is missing from their marriage. Dean finds it exciting to meet Larissa, the mother of one of his company's employees. They have a few meetings and share a few kisses, but Dean ends the relationship before it becomes an affair. He is deeply religious as well as a caring spouse to Kate, and he doesn't want his marriage threatened.

However, there are many interlocking relationships in the tale. For example, Kate is a participant in a gymnastics class that is led by Larissa, and the two are becoming friends. Larissa's eighteen-year-old son Cody does drugs. Recovering alcoholic and HR manager Dean is able to help Cody to keep his job on the condition that Cody stays "clean."

The story unfolds in believable ways. Relationships develop, change, sometimes break, and are rekindled in ways that the reader can relate to. The characters are well developed, as is the plot. There is a religious message that is conveyed through people who are flawed, but they are also trying hard to function, to love, and to be whole. As an example, Larissa, who is an agnostic, speaks a true prayer and is surprised at the peace and acceptance that she feels. Resolutions come as the characters accept God, themselves, their pasts, and one another, including Kate and Dean’s successful struggles to renew the pleasures of intimacy.

A 2020 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Short List winner

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