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 I Thought:
So many different thoughts about this book! Considering that it’s Clare Fisher’s debut novel, All The Good Things is a remarkably accomplished work. Although the novel is overshadowed by ‘the very bad thing’, it shows that even in the darkest of situations, there can be good things.
Beth is a complicated character, dealing at a young age with a mother with mental health problems, and being taken into care. Beth’s experiences in care show what a precarious position children in the system can be in – this is by no means a criticism as I don’t know enough about it to criticise – but Beth works her way through several foster homes, with no real support for her own mental health, and that voice in her head telling her not to try to be good, as she’s a bad person. End of.
As each chapter unfolds, we see the stages of a young life unravelling, until ‘the very bad thing’ is revealed and although we know that it was wrong, and we know that Beth is in prison for it, it’s very hard to make a black and white judgement on whether Beth herself is so very bad, or if her circumstances, leading right back to her mother’s difficulties make ‘the very bad thing’ somewhat inevitable.
I said at the time I finished the book that it left me sad and unsettled, and it did, but I’m so glad I read it. It’s a brilliant book and from the perspective of an older person, reading about such a young girl it will make you weep.
The blog tour for All The Good Things is ongoing – a fantastic 52 bloggers are taking part – so please do check out some of the blogs below…
Note: I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes, and for participation in the blog tour. All opinions are, as ever, my own.