Language to Love in Callie Wright's 'Love All'

It's a hell of a week for the Obermeyer family: Death, deception, infidelity, and tennis! Callie Wright's debut novel Love All (Henry Holt and Co.) takes place in Cooperstown, N.Y. over the course of the week after grandmother Joanie's death. When Anne discovers Joanie's copy of the 1962 novel The Sex Cure under the mattress, three generations of the family's scandals and secrets begin stalking their present.

Every family member is sent reeling: Grieving and guilt-ridden widower Bob; Anne, suspicious and worrisome over her husband Hugh's stories and her son Teddy's report; and Julia, the 15-year-old tennis star who navigates her relationship with her two best friends, with whom she shares a secret language and secret feelings.

With her commanding language, Wright delivers the account of each distinct and equally absorbing Obermeyer. Readers feel the confusion and longing of Julia, the anxiety and sadness of Anne, the tough-seeming tenderness of Teddy. It's a tough feat, but Wright has made each perspective — young and old, guilty and victimized — resonate with her graceful prose and powerful delivery. Here's proof: Quotes from Love All that not only grabbed me, but refuse to unhand me:

Post-scandal anxiety:

Two weeks had passed since the hospital-room incident, which would work to Hugh's advantage: with any luck, Graham had already forgotten that he'd encountered his preschool principal beneath his mother's spread legs.

A family on the brink:

Suddenly, whatever the truth was, Bob didn't want to know it. If his daughter had done this, Bob alone was responsible. He told her he wasn't feeling well after all, then went straight to bed, sick with the knowledge that he'd dragged his family into such an abyss.

Lawyer-mother-wife Anne:

I bequeath the whole of my estate, property, and effects, whether movable or immovable, wheresoever situated and of whatsoever nature, to 1974 Hugh. That's the Hugh I want back.

The obsessive love of Julia:

In the last few months, Sam had found at least as many reasons to brush up against me as Carl had, and he'd called at night without even the pretense of homework, and in the dark on the path down to the tennis courts the night before, I had to believe that he'd been trying to tell me that he liked me, too, Sam did, it had to be.

Wright's masterful depiction of family drama is the stuff of seasoned writers — something veteran novelists strive for. Her gripping prose and fully knowable characters establishes Love All as a novel that's easy to love entirely.