This review is part of the All the Good Things blog tour.
Title: All the Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher
Genre: Contemporary, Crime
Source: The publisher
Publisher: Viking (1st June 2017)
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?
All the Good Things is a story about redemption and hope for fans of Nathan Filer, Stephen Kelman and Emma Healey
(Blurb taken from Penguin.co.uk)
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4 stars)
ALL THE GOOD THINGS is Clare Fisher’s debut novel. The novel is comprised of letter’s written by the story’s protagonist Beth, who is twenty-one years old and is in prison for doing a bad thing. Through the course of the twenty-two letters we gradually learn more about Beth and her life prior to her ending up in prison, we also learn about the bad thing she did to get there. Although I found Beth a hard character to like, I think Fisher does a great job weaving together a narrative that is both compelling and heart breaking, where you find yourself rooting for Beth.
Deciding on a rating for this book was difficult for me, when as I mentioned earlier I found Beth a very hard character to like – I found some of the language used in her letters to be quite jarring – but at the same time it felt like Beth could have been someone I went to school with. Fisher creates a real rawness in Beth that left me rooting for her almost despite myself: by the end of the book, even after everything was revealed, I wanted Beth to have good things. I wanted her to have a chance to make different choices.
The fact that Fisher tells Beth’s story through a series of letters I thought worked really well, as it allowed the narrative to move around so that events were unravelled slowly. My only slight gripe with the format was that chapters were of quite varied length. Even with that I thought the story flowed really well, and that Fisher painted a really vivid picture of Beth’s life. I also thought that the letter format worked well because whilst it allows us a glimpse into Beth’s head, at the same time we know that there are still things she’s holding back from us.
Beth is a compelling narrator, and through her Fisher weaves the story of a clever, funny, and difficult girl who is trying to do her best. There is a definite sense of isolation and loneliness to Beth, even when she’s with people. I really enjoyed how Fisher wrote Beth’s friendship with Chantelle, and Beth’s relationship with her counsellor Erika. It was interesting to see how these two characters made her change and grow up. ALL THE GOOD THINGS is very much Beth’s story, and although Beth is just twenty-one her voices feels much older.
The narrative of ALL THE GOOD THINGS is haunted by the bad thing Beth did, and as such I don’t want to spoil what it is she did. I do think Fisher asks an interesting question through the narrative, as the blurb puts it: does anyone –even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good? Although this book is beautiful and haunting, I do not think that this book is for everyone – indeed, I think there are several things in it which people could find triggering. I do however think that Fisher handles such things sensitively. If you are looking for a stark, harrowing, but still somehow beautiful read then I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of ALL THE GOOD THINGS.
Meet the author…
Clare Sita Fisher was born in Tooting, south London in 1987. After accidentally getting obsessed with writing fiction when she should have been studying for a BA in History at the University of Oxford, Clare completed an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. An avid observer of the diverse area of south London in which she grew up, Clare’s writing is inspired by her long-standing interest in social exclusion and the particular ways in which it affects vulnerable women and girls. All The Good Things is her first novel. (Taken from Penguin.co.uk)
* This is a trackable link given to me by the publisher.