Book review: All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

26 Jun

all the goodTwenty-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 brilliant debut from Clare Fisher. It’s a novel that is both dark and light, heartbreaking and hopeful. It made me sad for the world we live in but also positive that sometimes people can make a difference; it made me remember that we shouldn’t judge actions without knowing the full story and it reminded me why reading can be so important to let us see inside different lives and to meet and understand new characters and the world around us.

Beth is just twenty one as we meet her and she’s in prison for doing an “100% TM certified bad thing”. We don’t actually find out exactly what Beth has done until nearly the end of the novel and wanting to know certainly drew me into the story initially but this book is so much more than a page turner with a big reveal. From the very first pages, I loved Beth’s voice – it’s a compelling mix of adult who has seen too much and lost child. Beth’s honesty and the simplicity of some of her statements took my breath away. She felt real and despite knowing that she’d done something terrible, I wanted to get to know her better, to understand her and what led her to where we meet her.

Beth’s counsellor Erika has suggested that she write a list of the good things about her life and so the chapters are titled with the things on Beth’s list. From “Smelling a baby’s head right into your heart” to “Flirting on orange Wednesday” and “running as fast as the thames flows”, each ‘thing’ forms a chapter of Beth’s life and as I read I began to piece together the picture of who she is.

It soon becomes clear that Beth has seen, been through and dealt with, a lot. All the Good Things is very hard to read in places and as the picture built of the many times that Beth had been failed by the people who were supposed to care for and protect her, I could see similar stories to hers in headlines and news stories. It made me sad to think that there are women and children out there right now going through the same things as Beth has. It made me angry that opportunities to help her were missed in the book and that vulnerable women and children are in the same position in reality every day.

As you can see, this story brought out a lot of emotion in me!  It is beautifully written and it really did make me think about the ‘facts’ that we see and what is really behind those stories. I cannot wait to read more from Clare.

5/5

All the Good Things is out now in hardback, ebook and audio formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing me with a review copy of this novel as part of the blog tour.

Find out more about Clare and her writing at: https://clarefisherwriter.com/ 

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