If Parallel and Free to Fall were 5 out of 5 books for me, then All Things New has to be a 6. While Lauren Miller’s first two novels were exceptional, I found extra depth in All Things New. Anxiety, written well, by someone who understands it! Now, this is a combination you don’t see very often. Thank you so much for writing this book, Lauren!
Because Lauren gets it, Jessa’s internal voice is authentic. As someone who is all too familiar with this dragon and coincidentally has also experienced long term effects from a car accident, I went on this journey with Jessa. I empathised with Jessa recounting how it felt when her friends ditched her after her panic attacks started. I cheered internally when Jessa’s courage to let her walls down was rewarded instead of punished. I felt anxious for her when she was anxious for her friends.
I loved how real the supporting characters felt to me and cared about what happened to them. I admired Jessa’s father for how hard he worked to build a relationship with his daughter. I appreciated that Hannah wasn’t a cliché, that she got snippy when she was frustrated by something or herself. Mr I. … what can I say except I wanted to curl up on a comfy couch somewhere, probably next to a roaring fire, and listen to him explain philosophy to me all day. (By the way, I get so excited when a book I love includes references to other books. Oscar Wilde and Descartes are definitely getting added to my scarily high TBR pile.)
And frustratingly optimistic Marshall. I adored him despite myself and would like to put an order in for a Marshall please (albeit an age appropriate one for me). Maybe he’s got an older cousin? The banter between Jessa and Marshall was so much fun! Because I read a snippet of a review that compared this book to John Green’s The Fault in our Stars, I spent most of this book anxiously muttering, ‘Please don’t let Marshall die! Please don’t let Marshall die!’
I was fascinated by the concept of the internal world that we often hide from others, sometimes more so from those closest to us, being made visible to Jessa. I loved Jessa’s interactions with the other characters and watching some relationships growing stronger as others faded into the background. While life isn’t a fairytale in the end, Jessa has, through her experience, learned to see and be compassionate to the internal struggles of others and her own.
We spend so much time hiding our true selves from the people around us that sometimes I wonder how much we ever really know anyone. There are entire worlds playing out inside our heads and if only we shared those with each other I’m positive we’d find out how alike we all are. Sure, everyone has their own pain and their own struggles but when it comes down to it, pain is pain. We get so afraid of rejection that we hide behind our walls, thinking we’re protecting ourselves when really we’re preventing ourselves from bring able to give and receive the support and validation that comes with knowing you’re not alone in your experience.
I found a Hallmark card about a decade ago and bought every one I could find at the time, dispensing them in the years since to those I felt would benefit from or appreciate its message like I did. This book reminded me of the writing on that card – “Daylight will peek through a very small hole. That’s how hope gets through, too.” No matter what we’re going through, there is hope, even if the hope is that things won’t always be this way. OK, stepping off my soapbox now!
This was one of those books that made me sad that you only get to read it for the first time once. However, I’m sure there’ll be a second time coming fairly soon. If I did have the chance to read it for the first time again I think I’d highlight the passages that don’t resonate with me instead of the ones that do. As it stands, because I did the opposite, my highlighter would have run dry before I got to the halfway mark if I’d been reading a paperback. Instead I wore out my index finger constantly highlighting passages on my Kindle.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Three Saints Press for the opportunity to read this book. I’d recommend this to young adults and adults alike, to anyone who has experienced anxiety or anyone who wants to gain a better understanding of those who do, or to those who simply want to read a great book. I don’t care what you write about in the future, Lauren, but please keep writing. I’ll be reading anything you publish!
Once Upon a Blurb
Jessa 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 visible 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, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart 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, perfect for fans of All the Bright Places and The Fault in Our Stars.