All This Time

S. & S. Sept. 2020. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534466340.
Gr 7 Up–At his high school graduation party, Kyle’s eager about what comes next: college with his girlfriend and a long future together afterwards. But when a car crash takes all of that away, Kyle must find out who he is without Kimberly. When Marley enters Kyle’s life, he’s not sure he’s ready to move on, but eventually the idea of a relationship with her feels too right to resist. This book drops a number of curveballs, particularly in the latter half of the story, which is structured like a fairy tale. This mix of contemporary realism with fairy-tale elements doesn’t always mesh well, sowing an awkward atmosphere that struggles to create meaningful depth. While themes such as identity, independence, and grief are familiar and universal, the lack of effective character depth and the cumbersome narrative leave the exploration of these themes feeling superficial. Chemistry between the love interests is similarly incomplete, making it difficult to enthusiastically root for the relationship’s success. Meanwhile, a series of twists toward the end contribute to an overall sense of insincerity.
VERDICT Fans of the authors’ Five Feet Apart and Sandy Hall’s Signs Point to Yes will likely be interested, but may find the novel unfulfilling and mediocre. An additional purchase.

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