“I think it’s a good thing to find hope where any other person would agree there was none.”
-Clare Fisher, All the Good Things
Hey guys! Not too long ago I was sent a lovely hardback copy of All the Good Things by Clare Fisher from the lovely Elke at Penguin/Viking books. Thank you!
At only 228 pages, I knew it wouldn’t take me long to read, but I didn’t expect to sit down and read it all in one sitting. It was one of those books where the subject matter didn’t appeal to me that much, (or so I thought), but I found myself drawn into it regardless, helped along by Clare Fisher’s compelling writing style.
Here’s the blurb:
Twenty-one-year-old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No.1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?
I thought that this book would be sad and tragic. And it was, but it was also infused with hope. It was a book about looking back and addressing the past, acknowledging the things that happened and that you’ve done, but then moving forward, to a fresh start.
Written in Beth’s point of view, All the Good Things is arranged in short chapters, each chapter is related to one of the good things on her list, and flits between the past and the present, revealing little snippets of Beth’s back story juxtaposed against her current situation. Although I’d class this book as more of a literary fiction, the structure of the book kept the pacing tight and the reader moving quickly towards the inevitable end, where we find out what the bad thing Beth has done is, and how she wound up in prison.
It was a little predictable, and I guessed the bad thing quite early on, but I found that that didn’t matter. What mattered was the unwinding of Beth’s story, the different points along her journey that led her to that point, and how she’s been doing since then. The good things, before and after are the focal points of this book, as it is, at its very core, a message of hope.
Clare Fisher has a beautiful writing style, which added to the book’s readability, and enhanced the story she was telling. I really felt like I was inside Beth’s head, and that Beth was portrayed very well. As Beth came from a poorer, more challenging background and life, I felt that the situation she was in was dealt with very well and sensitively; it illustrated that things are rarely black and white and delved into those grey areas, exploring them compassionately throughout this novel as you experience Beth’s life for yourself.
Overall, I thought this was a really well-written, heartfelt book, that was sad and hopeful all at once. I’m giving this one 4/5 stars and I’d recommend it to fans of literary fiction who thinks this sounds interesting!
Has anyone else read this one? What did you think of it? Is anybody intrigued by this one?