Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Review: All Things New by Lauren Miller

Synopsis from NetGalley
Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn't help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. 
Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but her anxiety only gets worse in the wake of the accident.  That is, until she meets Marshall, a boy with a heart defect whose kindness and generous spirit slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.
All Things New is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.
Release: August 1st from Three Saints Press

Although when I first read about All Things New I was desperate to read it, and thrilled when Netalley approved my request, it took me longer than usual to get around to reading it. I'm going to blame the cover for that, it was hard to remember how awesome it sounded with that cover, here's hoping it's altered before release. 

"We've all got stuff. It's so much 
work pretending that we don't."

Without a doubt, this is the best book about a character with anxiety that I've read. The writing is descriptive and at times beautiful, without ever info-dumping or becoming preachy. Jessa's struggles are so realistic, perfectly realised. The accident happens very early in the story and is a catalyst to everything that follows, but it's the anxiety and panic that are really the star of the show. The fact that that was already a part of Jessa's life before the accident happens makes it all the more realistic, a lesser book would have had that begin because of the accident. The writing is so skillful that we can feel Jessa's exhaustion from the years of carrying this around with her. What the accident does do, is accelerate the plot so that the anxiety isn't the story, still just like in real-life, it's ever-present. 

"Watching him, I'm swept up in sadness, 
why do we rip ourselves apart?"

If I'm honest, I do sometimes have trouble connecting to books with a male love interest. However, All Things New has one of the best. Marshall is such a well-written character. At first he seems like a standard quirky, light-hearted type but the more we find out about him, the more of a parallel can be drawn between his experiences and Jessa's. They appear to be genuinely perfect for each other, rather than that fact being forced. He's a fully fleshed out person who I could easily imagine myself being friends with. In fact, his family is wonderful. This book has some very strong supporting characters. The parents, both Jessa and Marshall's, play a decent role in the story which can be a difficulty in YA. 

"no-one wants to talk about how messed up things are, 
so we let each other play pretend."

Even if you've never experienced anxiety yourself, this book would be a great introduction to it, especially if you know someone who does struggle with it. It does the impossible by putting the complex feelings into words, and beautiful words at that. And that isn't all, imperfect parent-child relationships, addiction, and teen burn-out all play a part in the plot. That being said, it never feels like there's too much going on. 
So pre-order All Things New now, you won't regret it. 


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