Everyone But You

By Barbara O'Dair, Executive Editor, Reader's Digest Magazine

everyone but you

In Everyone But You, Sandra Novack’s first collection of short stories (her novel, Precious, was published in 2009), she gives the subject of relationships a good going-over. Human affairs—be they among family, friends or lovers—are usually fraught in these tales, yet their tension can be magnetic. Oddly skewed and unpredictable, the narratives feature people who are often stubbornly unconscious of their own needs and desires, yet vulnerable enough that they are mostly sympathetic. In “Fireflies,” a impetuous, unknowable woman wreaks havoc on the life of a young man struggling to find his way. In “White Trees in Summer,” after an old woman dies, misunderstandings break out between her neighbors, local teenagers, and the elderly husband she has left a widower. Connections falter between people, even as they try to do their best. These scenarios could add up to a failure of storytelling if Novack’s characters weren’t as intriguing as they are confounding. Booklist wrote that the Everyone is an “…[electrifying collection of sexy, gutsy, imaginatively compassionate stories. Vividly tactile, funny, irreverent, and incisive, these stories of imperiled relationships are also richly plotted.”