Tuesday 26 February 2019

All the Good Things - Clare Fisher

What if you did a very bad thing... but that wasn't the end of the story?
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?

What did I think?

I've had All the Good Things on my TBR for far too long and I only picked it up by chance when I was looking for a book thin enough to fit in my bag for a long train journey.  I expected to read a handful of chapters then gaze out of the train window at the scenery whizzing by, but as soon as I picked up this book I was lost.  It's just as well the train terminated at my destination or I would have ended up somewhere completely unexpected as I turned the final page of this book.

The whole premise is breathtakingly simple as Beth, an inmate in a prison, lists all of the good things that have happened to her in her life.  Now, this might seem like an easy task to you or me, but to someone like Beth with her tragic life she has to dig a bit deeper to list her good things.  Always hovering in the background, as we read Beth's story, is the bad thing she has done.  It's not difficult to guess what it is, but as I got to know Beth, I hoped with all my heart that I was wrong.

Clare Fisher is a magnificent storyteller, creating a terribly flawed but completely believable character in Beth who I very easily began to care about.  I felt so emotionally involved in the ups and downs of Beth's story that I dreaded getting to the part that landed her in prison.  As if she could read my mind, Clare Fisher sprinkled a glimmer of hope and forgiveness into the story to help me cope with this awful but inevitable revelation.

I am completely flabbergasted that this is a debut novel; the writing is so polished and accomplished and Clare Fisher manages to make you feel everything that the main character of Beth is feeling.  It surprised me how emotional I found this book, although I didn't cry I felt as if I was experiencing all of Beth's emotions with her.  The characterisation is so multidimensional that Beth jumps from the page and she stayed with me long after I turned the final page.  All the Good Things is a completely stunning and entirely flawless debut.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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