Even though he’s the YA author on everyone’s lips, or blogs, I have a confession: I’m too terrified to read any of James’ other books. Say Her Name scares me and so does Under My Skin, so when I heard that All Of The Above was going to be contemporary… well, I was really happy. It’s also the first book I’ve bought in a long time (I think) from WHSmith, not that anyone other than me sees the significance. Am I rambling? I’m sorry. I just really loved this book OK that I remember every freaking detail about it!
Toria has started a new sixth form, and ready to make a new start, she starts trying to find friends in that adorkable way that many of us (including me) sometimes do or have tried. She meets Polly, Daisy, Beasley and this new group of friends, and instantly assumes the defaults about them all. But, as she’ll quickly learn, not everyone fits the status quo. And it would be easier if they all just fell into one category. Toria knows though that’s it’s a mess, and it’s only going to get messier, especially when the town’s crazy golf course gets thrown into the mix.
Having never read a James Dawson novel before but hearing nothing but the positives about him and his writing, I went into this book expecting the best and I left with so much more.
I think James has first of all hit the nail on the head with the fact that so-called ‘issue’ books cover just one of the several issues that many people and friends face on a daily basis, when in actual fact science can prove most people suffer with many more issues than just one. James has taken onboard way more issues than that, with self-harm, relationships, sex, mental health conditions and sexuality all thrown into this book.
Here’s the key thing though: most people would think that book would be a complete mess, but it just isn’t. It takes the thing that life is a mess and shows it beautifully.
The plot itself isn’t at all complicated, but it’s one of those books that’s in a situation where it just doesn’t need to be complicated because the way the story is told completely makes up for it and makes it brilliant.
It isn’t an issue book in the sense that we’d attach a negative connotation to it, or call it another one of those books where it’s just the book community trying to tick boxes. I don’t believe any book that has an issue at it’s core is just trying to tick boxes, and especially not All Of The Above.
Do I have any negatives? No. For the first time in ages, I don’t believe I have any criticisms whatsoever about this book.
Simply, thank you Hot Key for publishing this and thank you James for dreaming of it. Looking forward to what you write next!