First You Try Everything is the psychological portrait of the dissolution of a marriage, of two people who were once inexorably drawn together, but who have grown just as inexorably apart.
Ben and Evvie met in college, where their wounded childhoods and passionate idealism gave them an immediate bond. They married and embarked upon an alternative lifestyle, filled with music and the pursuit of causes close to their hearts. Unable to have children, Evvie began to put all the passion she might have felt for a family into her idealistic ventures. Ben, however, finally decides to pursue a more conventional career path and discovers that he enjoys working in an office and being part of the mainstream. When he realizes that Evvie cannot fit into the future he plans for himself, he decides to leave her. Evvie’s fragile personality begins to disintegrate. She becomes desperate to regain Ben’s love, determined that he cannot live without her. In her desperation, she embarks upon a harebrained scheme with potentially disastrous circumstances.
This is author Jane McCafferty’s second novel, and it’s a roller coaster ride of emotions. I found it difficult to like Evvie, who was just a little too “out there” to be believable. Obviously emotionally troubled, she seemed to have little insight into anyone’s needs or perspectives except her own. I had more sympathy for Ben, who simply wanted a normal lifestyle. He did his best to leave the marriage with as little damage to Evvie as possible.
First You Try Everything was a sometimes painful but emotionally engrossing story of a woman who really will try everything to save a relationship.