All That Matters

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Published by: Hachette Books
Release Date: September 8, 2004
Pages: 198
ISBN13: 978-1401301101



Jennifer Stempler has nothing left to lose: the love of her life dumped her, her mother died in a senseless car accident five years ago, and her famous Hollywood producer father started a brand-new family—with no room in it for her. So, 23-year-old Jennifer decides to pursue peaceful (permanent) oblivion on the beach near her home in Venice, California, drifting on a lethal combination of Xanax and tequila. But she can't even get that right.

Jennifer’s depression is no match for her bedridden Nana’s determination. Gabby Zuckerman refuses to let her granddaughter self-destruct, rising from her sick bed in Manhattan to rescue her granddaughter, stealing her from the psych ward in LA, taking her on a journey across the country to help her fall in love with life. Through jaunts in Central Park to road trips to Maine, Gabby teaches Jennifer how to trust and hope again. And by relating her own tragic and heroic experience during the Nazi occupation of Poland, Gabby bestows upon Jennifer an understanding of her own life's value. But when Gabby reveals a secret—one that proves to be Jennifer’s toughest challenge yet—Jennifer struggles to find out whether the gift will sustain her.


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*A Los Angeles Times Bestseller

Praise from Marianne Williamson, #1 NY Times bestselling author”A heartwarming novel embracing life’s infinite possibilities…” Richard Carlson, #1 NY Times bestselling author-”Miraculous!” Faye Kellerman, NY Times bestselling author-“…a deft tale of deep love and the struggle to survive.”

“If you loved The Notebook, then you'll want to lose yourself reading All That Matters.”
—Doubleday Book Club

“Like Tuesdays With Morrie and Message in a Bottle, this is a story that evokes emotions ranging from heartbreak to joy, as its endearing, complex characters tenderly work their way into our hearts.”
—Book of the Month Club

“In this deeply moving, endearing tale by award-winning poet Jan Goldstein, a suicidal young woman journeys from the deepest despair into a full embrace of life with the help of her feisty gran. Akin to life-affirming bestseller The Five People You Meet in Heaven, this inspiring debut blends parable and fiction to illustrate life’s abundant joys.”
—The Quality Paperback Book Club

“A novel as moving as Tuesdays with Morrie . . . Jan Goldstein’s All That Matters will tug at the heart and renew the soul. Just one warning: It’s almost impossible to put down before the last page.”
—The Oklahoman


It had all gone wrong, of course.

No one was supposed to notice her there in the sand on the Venice, California, beach at sunset. Why would they? A human circus of all shapes, hair colors, and states of mind gathered along the shore to witness the orgasmic reds and resplendent golds at the end of each day. A five-foot-three mousy-haired, slightly built young woman in this crowd was like a rerun in the middle of television's new fall lineup--who's going to bother tuning in? It was a perfect plan.

Thing was, Jennifer had reasoned with a cynic's clarity, anybody could end her life behind closed doors. But why wade through the morass of possible distractions that her indoor suicide might occasion? Prolonging the inevitable with one more late-night movie on the tube. Stumbling on yet another marathon chat session among similarly depressed individuals on the Internet. The temptation to humiliate herself with pitiful phone calls to the living heartache who'd once masqueraded as her soul mate.

Everything up to that point--

the brisk twenty-minute walk to the beach;

the glorious farewell sunset;

the tying to her waist of her ever-present camcorder with the simple 411 that, in the cool, dispassionate adding-up of her life, the minuses simply outnumbered the pluses;
the slightly hyperventilating intake of drugs and alcohol, allowing her to drift off on a cloud of Xanax and tequila--

all of it had gone just as Jennifer had envisioned.

But then the one thing that was not supposed to happen actually did. Some time after she had laid her head down and passed out, the truck hauling the large metal comb used for grooming the sand nearly ran over the inert object in its path and, just like that . . . someone noticed.
Afterward, a flurry of doctors, nurses, and medical assistants floated around Jennifer's bed. Hours passed in which she was in and out of consciousness. At one point she looked up through the haze of her stupor to see her father's face bobbing overhead. How does he do it--the question poked through her fog--even now, not a hair out of place? She hadn't known he could cry. Where were you when I could have used some of this attention? her brain shouted. She wished he would go back to his little wife and his baby, leave her the hell alone. He used to do that so well.

And then he was gone, leaving her with her failure.

Later, amid the lights, the voices, and the churning within her, Jennifer fell into a fitful sleep and dreamed of her mother. In the dream, Lili stood on a massive rock overlooking a body of water. From this stone formation she appeared to be throwing something out into the sea. But Jennifer couldn't recall having ever been to this place she saw now in her dream. Why was her mother on this strange rock? And what was she discarding?

When Jennifer awoke the next morning she was still groggy and confused. But confusion was about to meet its match.