When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are, all in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who’s the coolest girl Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the ‘alternative’ kids take Toria under their wing. And that’s when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band – and it’s instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria . . . but then there’s Polly. Love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles
All of the Above is a book full of peeing-your-pants laughter and drowning-in-tears heartbreak and the two are blended together effortlessly in a true to life, ridiculously relatable tale of young adult life. Our protagonist, Toria, is an I-spend-too-much-time-on-Tumblr fangirl who finds herself in a new school in a small town and slots into the group of “Alt kids”.
She meets the foul-mouthed Polly Wolfe who is loud, proud and could murder anybody who tries to get in her way.Reading moments with Polly in them are great fun because all of her profanity has been replaced by **** and so it’s a fun “count the stars and look for the context” fill in the blanks game of cursing that you get to play alongside the story.
It is really stressed throughout the story (and in the title) that the story is not just about sexuality or eating disorders or falling in love or alcoholism or anything else, it is going to cover literally everything because that’s how life is.Some reviews I read going into this that the number of themes makes it messy and the story is worse off for it but I am passionate in my disagreement. Life often feels like everything is piling up at once until you can’t breathe, even if your problems are nowhere near as serious and it helped to engulf the reader in how overwhelmed Toria feels.
“It’s just so fast. Nothing happens for ages and then it all comes at once.”
A unique thing about All of The Above is that there are poems interspersed throughout as Toria likes to write them. In a poem whose title I won’t reveal because of spoilers, I found what may be one of my favourite quotes to date:
All of the poems are wonderful and give the book something to make it really memorable in comparison with other contemporary YA novels, it’s certainly going to stick with me for a while.
Juno Dawson will be attending YALC on the 29th and 31st of July in the London Olympia.