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All I Ever Wanted - Vikki Wakefield Oh, man. I really, really liked this. Mim dreams of a different life, a life far, far away (in every respect) from her current one and it’s not difficult to understand why she wants to escape. She lives in a rough neighborhood where bright futures are the rarity, not the foregone conclusion. The family business includes drug dealing and loan sharking and her neighbors range from strange to genuinely terrifying. Mim hardly dares to say her dreams out loud, but she fiercely clings to the idea of a better life. By drafting a set of strict rules for herself, Mim is determined to change her fate. She has managed to steer clear of any outright involvement in criminal activity, but that all changes when both of her brothers are arrested and her mom needs her to pick up a package. Over the following week, Mim’s rules are systematically broken and her life is forever changed. It’s amazing how much Vikki Wakefield accomplishes in so few pages (202!). Her prose is stunningly beautiful and atmospheric. There's nothing extraneous in her writing, every word is chosen with such precision and care. Wakefield really has a knack for nuanced, genuine characters. Although the plot is suspenseful, gritty and entertaining, where the book really delivers is the character interaction. The emotional relationships are bitterly honest. And Mim? Mim is just plain special. She is tough, yet a dreamer. Resigned, yet hopeful. She's prickly, funny, flawed and fierce. I loved her journey as all of her preconceptions about everyone from her mother to her crush to herself blow up in her face and challenge her to adapt and grow. Her blind need to escape has kept her separate from the world around her, but what happens when she opens her eyes and really sees "her people"? I was completely absorbed throughout all of her mistakes and triumphs. I loved her realization that independence and freedom doesn't necessitate abandoning everything you've come from. And oh man did that Oscar Wilde quote get me GOOD. All I Ever Wanted is one of my favorite books of the year.