Title: All That’s Bright and Gone
Author: Eliza Nellums
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication date: December 10th, 2019
Fans of Jodi Picoult and Fredrik Backman will fall for this tenderhearted debut mystery following a young girl on a quest to save her family.
I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.
Six-year-old Aoife knows better than to talk to people no one else can see, like her best friend Teddy who her mother says is invisible. He’s not, but Mama says it’s rude anyways. So when Mama starts talking to Aoife’s older brother Theo, Aoife is surprised. And when she stops the car in the middle of an intersection, crying and screaming, Aoife gets a bad feeling–because even if they don’t talk about it, everyone knows Theo died a long time ago. He was murdered.
Eventually, Aoife is taken home by her Uncle Donny who says he’ll stay with her until Mama comes home from the hospital, but Aoife doesn’t buy it. The only way to bring Mama home is to find out what really happened to Theo. Even with Teddy by her side, there’s a lot about the grown-up world that Aoife doesn’t understand, but if Aoife doesn’t help her family, who will?
Between Aoife’s vivid imagination and her steadfast goal, All That’s Bright and Gone illuminates the unshakable bond between mothers and daughters in an increasingly unstable world.
**Thank you to Crooked Lane Books, Eliza Nellums, and Netgalley for providing me this ebook in exchange for an honest review**
Aoife (EE-fah) is a 6 year old girl who has been through a lot in her short life. Her mother has a mental illness that makes her act confused at times, and their living situation isn’t always the greatest. Aoife knows her mom is trying and thinks their life is great fun. When her mom has a mental breakdown while driving, Aoife’s world is turned upside down, because Mommy isn’t home anymore. Her Uncle Donovan comes to take care of her, which trying to navigate CPS and an energetic, 6 year old with an imaginary friend, Teddy, that likes to get her in trouble.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book solely narrated by a very, young character, but I imagine this is exactly what it would sound like it this happened in real life. Eliza Nellums made this book so much more interesting by telling it from Aoife’s point of view. It would have been easy to have the mom be the narrator, or even Uncle Donovan. But Aoife lends this story an innocent perspective, which I think really increased my enjoyment of this book, even if at times I (as an adult) just wanted Aoife to pay more attention to the adult conversations happening!
There is a lovely plot twist at the end that came as a shock to me (and Aoife). It also really brings into question the idea of imaginary friends, ghosts, and mental health. This book truly is a rich telling of life and family, and what happens when chaos starts to reign in the dynamic. All characters were interesting and helped move the story onward. There is a general “happy” ending, but not one that you expect in the beginning or middle of the book.
I really appreciated this story. It’s a little out of my comfort zone of what I would normally read, but I knocked it out in one night. It is short, if not necessarily light in tone. Aoife does get herself into some trouble, and I spent a good section of the book worried about this little girl.
This book definitely reminded me of Jodi Picoult and a little of Sarah Dessen, so if you like those authors, check out All That’s Bright and Gone.
Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂