Book Review: No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

no one ever asked book review katie ganshert

The synopsis on the back of the book: 

Challenging perceptions of discrimination and prejudice, this emotionally resonant drama for readers of Lisa Wingate and Jodi Picoult explores three different women navigating challenges in a changing school district--and in their lives.

When an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors, the lives of three very different women converge: Camille Gray--the wife of an executive, mother of three, long-standing PTA chairwoman and champion fundraiser--faced with a shocking discovery that threatens to tear her picture-perfect world apart at the seams. Jen Covington, the career nurse whose long, painful journey to motherhood finally resulted in adoption but she is struggling with a happily-ever-after so much harder than she anticipated. Twenty-two-year-old Anaya Jones--the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge's top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she's stepped into. Tensions rise within and without, culminating in an unforeseen event that impacts them all. This story explores the implicit biases impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human? Why are we so quick to put labels on each other and categorize people as "this" or "that", when such complexity exists in each person? 

  • Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
  • Published: 4/2018
  • Pages: 352
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.59 Stars
no one ever asked katie ganshert
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
— John 13:34-35

Why I choose this book: 

I was provided this book by the publishing company to review. When I read the synopsis on the back of the book I knew this would be a good one. 

First Initial Thoughts

Immediately Katie throws you into a tragedy in the beginning but then brings you back a year prior to read about the events that led up to the tragedy. South Fork is a school that lost its accreditation. South Fork is in an impoverished community and many students have been in trouble with the law. These students have an option to transfer to Crystal Ridge. Crystal Ridge, however, is an affluent neighborhood and has caused the parents to be in an uproar about the transfer. 

Camille is that lady in your neighborhood that seems to have it all together. The perfect house, handsome and successful husband, and adorable children. However, inside it's a different story. Her husband Neil is not happy in the marriage and they often have little fights (verbal). I really felt sorry for Camille. She wanted to appear perfect but she was lacking love for herself on the inside. 

Jen is a new mom to an adopted African American girl named Jubilee. How cute is that name?! I really liked Jen because she wasn't afraid to admit that she was having challenges with Jubilee and getting used to a new home. I kind of felt like she was pressured by the other moms to have her daughter play with their daughters, however, Jubilee had social anxiety issues. And this caused a lot of stress with Jen. 

Anaya Jones, my heart went out for her. She wanted to make a life for herself and successfully got a role as a 2nd-grade teacher at O'Hare Elementary. However, Camille and the other moms that bring their children to school are first judgmental. Simply because she was an African American teacher. Which rarely happened in their predominately white school. 

Setting

Katie did an amazing job with immersing you in each individual story/perspective. You could feel what each character felt and issues that they were experiencing. 

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
— The Lorax

Final Thoughts

This book really reminded me of Big Little Lies. I have not read the book but I devoured the HBO series in two days. The story was set up in a similar fashion. However, Katie did have her own flair to it and it had its own storyline. 

And can I say Camille's daughter, Paige was a real...brat and kind of mean. She was very judgmental towards the African American children and I really felt sorry for them. Speaking of Camille, while I didn't hate her, she did annoy me at times. I really wanted to shake her and say it's ok to NOT be perfect. It's ok to admit that you have issues in your life. We all do! 

Anaya just touched my heart throughout this story. She really cared for her students and often prayed for them. She gave advice to Jen when she was having issues with Jubilee. She was really the sweetheart of the story. 

This story is very appropriate for right now with the issues schools and society as a whole are having. It covers hot topics like race, gun violence, segregation, bullying, social standing, etc. It also shows that we tend to label people. We label people by their skin color among other things. We assume they are a certain way because of who they are. And it's quite sad. 

I think the title of this book is perfect as well for the meaning of this book. No one ever asks - asks are you ok? Is there anything going on at home? How can I help? No one ever asks how can we resolve these racial and violence issues in society today. It's something we all need to think about more. 

Even though this was a Christian book, God was not mentioned a lot throughout the story. However, if you pay attention I think He is more in between the pages, and the meaning of the book as a whole. 

Would I Recommend? 

Yes! I think this is a story that everyone should read. It really opens one's eyes to the issues that go on in our school environment - as well as outside of it. 

 

Q&A with Katie Ganshert

katie ganshert author

Tell us about your new novel, No One Ever Asked.

No One Ever Asked is a story about three very different women whose lives are brought together when an impoverished school district loses its accreditation and the affluent community of Crystal Ridge has no choice but to open their school doors. Camille Gray is the wife of a corporate executive, mother of three, and a long-standing PTA chairwoman. Jen Covington is a newly adoptive mom who’s struggling with a happily-ever-after so much more difficult than she anticipated. And Anaya Jones is the first woman in her family to graduate college and a brand new teacher at Crystal Ridge’s top elementary school, unprepared for the powder-keg situation she’s stepped into. It’s a story that explores the implicit bias impacting American society, and asks the ultimate question: What does it mean to be human?

What inspired you to share this story?

A couple years ago, I was listening to an episode of a popular podcast called This American Life. The episode was titled, ‘The Problem We All Live With’, featuring investigative reporter, Nikole Hannah-Jones, who covers race in the United States. She was sharing about a modern-day integration story, wherein a Missouri school district comprised almost entirely of low-income, black and brown students lost their accreditation, triggering a law that allowed these students to transfer to a mostly white, affluent school district nearby. The podcast included several sound bites from a town meeting held in one of the affluent district’s high schools, and the pushback from the parents was shocking. I couldn’t believe it was from 2013. It was a story that captivated me about a topic that impassions me. So when it came time to write my next novel, this was where my heart kept returning.  

The book is told from the perspectives of three main characters with different experiences and backgrounds. What did your research process look like to accurately capture each of their voices and stories?

Writing a book truly takes a village, especially a book like this one! I’ve never been on the PTA, and I’ve never organized a color run (a district-wide fundraising event that takes place in the story), but I have friends who have, and they let me interview them. While I am an adoptive mother, like Jen, I’m not very familiar with the struggles that often come with adopting an older child. I’m part of a Facebook group much like the one Jen is a part of in the novel, so I reached out to the moms in that group quite often with specific questions. As far as things in Anaya’s life that are unique to the black experience, I listened to a lot of people, and I read a plethora of books, memoirs, and articles, all of which helped bring authenticity to Anaya’s character.

What did you learn about yourself or others while writing this book?

This story really brought home to me the fact that no one person, myself included, is all one thing or the other. All of us are complex people with complex histories and experiences, which indelibly shape the way we look at ourselves, others, and the world around us. I also learned that racism runs deep in the fabric of our society, and if we’re ever going to honestly address that, we have to be willing to listen to perspectives and experiences that are unfamiliar and different from our own.  

What message do you hope your readers will take away from No One Ever Asked?

I don’t think there’s anyone message I want readers to take away with them as much as I just want hearts to be impacted. I hope the last page of No One Ever Asked will find hearts softer than the first. I hope eyes will be opened, defensiveness will crumble, and ears more willing to listen.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished listening to Every Last One by Anna Quindlen on audio, and holy buckets! Talk about heart-wrenching. She captivated me with her honest prose, and when I reached the part in the book where the title is first mentioned, I literally gasped out loud. It’s definitely not a light read, but it is a moving one. I’m also reading Becky Wade’s Her One and Only, which has had me laughing out loud at several points and smiling big throughout. She writes wonderful romance! 

 

You can purchase the book ---> HERE

I highly suggest that you check this book out. I absolutely loved this book! It is going to probably be on my top favorites so far this year! Yes, it was that good! 

Thank you for stopping by and until next time. :) 

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** NOTE: I was provided this book by Penguin Random House to review. All opinions are my own.