Wednesday 9 August 2017

Review: All Things New

All Things New All Things New by Lauren Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I've read by Lauren Miller - and I don't think it will be my last. Her word-smithing is beautiful. (I think that's a word!) It's another teenage 'issue' fiction book, but it didn't bore me in the least, despite the plethora of books of that ilk being reeled out at the moment. This book has something different - difficult to pinpoint, but thrilling to read.

Jessa suffers from panic attacks. She has done since about eighth grade when her parents divorced. When her dad moved away, her mum forced her into therapy. Jessa's confused, but there's one things she clears about: she does notwant to talk about it. So, acting becomes Jessa's talent. Before, she got good grades and made her parents proud. Now, her grades are suffering, but as long as her mum can't seeher panic, it's not a problem. Right? When she finds Wren, her boyfriend, things become easier. He likes her in a simple way. She's pretty, and she knows what to say when. Who cares if it's all an act?

When Jessa overhears at a party that Wren has been cheating on her, her world splinters. That same night, she is in an awful accident. She can remember it - but not vividly. Because, after the accident, Jessa suffers from aphantasia. This is something I've never come across before, and it greatly interested me. She has memories, but no accompanying pictures to them. Inside her head, all there is is darkness. Outside, the world becomes a riot of colour - something apparently common for people suffering from this condition - but within her head there is nothing. But it gets worse. Jessa begins to realise that she's hallucinating. Hallucinating injuries onto people - scars, burns, bruises. When she
Lauren Miller herself
eventually confides in a doctor, it's suggested this is because she cannot cope with her own disfigurement; the accident has left her face badly scars and she refuses to confront mirrors. But is that all there is to it? Because the injuries change, and they're not similar to her own. Not everyone has scars, only people who are damaged on the inside. Is Jessa seeing their insides then, their souls? No, that's impossible. But the school counsellor, Dr I, is very open to any interpretation and it leaves Jessa wondering. Why can she see bruises on her new friend's Hannah's face, which keep getting worse, when no one else thinks anything is wrong? Why is Hannah's twin brother, an upbeat happy-go-lucky kinda guy, scarless - despite having a hole in his heart and a dangerous blood clot?

Oh, there's so much more to this story - but I can't write anymore without giving away any spoilers. I'll just say this - each time you think you have the measure of it, Miller turns everything on its head. Each time you think that Jessa's wrong - maybe she's right. It's a rollercoaster ride of a book. I found myself explaining the entire plot line of this book to someone and was practically bouncing as I described it! It's absolutely fascinating, the whole of it: the aphantasia, the hallucinations, the relationships, the philosophy, even her English class studying 'A Picture of Dorian Gray.'

The ending is superb. Miller leaves you with the choice of what you want to believe. This wasn't the book I expected to read.

And for the romance lovers out there - don't worry, there's something for you too!

All in all, a huge thanks to NetGalley and to Three Saints Press for the opportunity to read this. Please, go out and buy a copy - what are you waiting for??

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