Note to self: read more contemporary crime.
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? Does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?
All the Good Things is an emotional little read, I use the word ‘little’ because I read it one sitting and it really didn’t feel as though I’d just read 280 pages – a good sign, I was so engrossed in the story.
The interesting thing about this one is, the blurb doesn’t openly state why Beth is in prison and the reason why isn’t revealed until the end but from quite early in the book, you figure out the reason. Knowing this from so early on, with other books it might cause your interest to wane, but here it compels you to read on. This book is deeper than the crime that was committed, I believe, it seeks to challenge our own views and possible prejudices – because a person did a bad thing, are they a bad person? So often people are quick to judge without know all the facts; is it not in knowing the facts that you allow yourself to feel compassion, to see that everything is not black and white, the grey area in between matters too?
Through sessions with her counsellor, Beth takes us back to the beginning, to her earliest memories, her foster parents, her first job, first boyfriend and other big and little life events, all to ready her to face her truth. You’ll smile at some of her memories, shake your head at others, thinking she should have known better. It’s evident that Beth is a bright girl with emotional scars that haven’t healed, the isolation Beth lives in, both emotionally and physically – through the realistic narration, Fisher takes you on an emotional journey. Narrated in a chatty-tone that shows Beth’s vulnerability; when you see all that she has endured at only twenty-one, never excusing her actions, you can’t help but feel sad for the life she could have lived.
All the Good Things is Beth’s road to redemption, to finding hope, to believing the end is not always the same as the beginning. This book won’t take up too much of your time reading it but it’s thought-provoking nature will claim you for hours afterwards. All the Good Things is Fisher’s debut novel and I look forward to reading what she writes next.