I want to thank Montlake Romance for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley.
Releases on May 29, 2018
From Goodreads: “The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town.
Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart.
Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.”
Firstly, I want to give a heads up to couple topics that might be triggering for some readers that are a part of this book including both physical and emotional abuse.
I requested this novel as I had enjoyed Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful and Maddox Brothers series when I read them years ago. I want to preface this review by saying that All the Little Lights is very different. I would not even know whether or not to classify this as Young Adult or New Adult. The majority of Goodreads readers place it as a YA, and that makes sense based on the age of the main characters. Due to McGuire’s past NA works and that she still wrote this like her past series I would recommended this for people just getting into NA.
This story also differs in topic and execution from her past series. Do not go into this thinking it is going to be some cutesy contemporary love story, that’s what I thought I was walking into and I was really wrong. This book is heavy and creepy, and full of twists and turns. It is not your average YA contemp, just warning you.
- Characters: The story is told in dual point of view. The lead female in Catherine Calhoun and the male lead is Elliott Youngblood. I did not connect to Catherine very much which is always an essential for me while reading a book. I could express sympathy towards her, but as I have never been in any of her circumstances there was a disconnect. Elliott is Naive American, specifically his parent’s are both Cherokee and this informed his character without being the main focus of his story He faces some racism and bullying due to his ethnicity and Jamie McGuire did a great job of interweaving these incidents into the larger story. All the side characters bring various purposes to the story. My personal fave side character was Elliot’s Aunt Leigh who was both present to help both Elliot and Catherine, but also had her own interesting story as a caucasian women who married into Elliot’s Cherokee family and was not warmly accepted because of her ethnicity.
- Writing: Nothing super horrible, but also nothing super special. Pretty easy to get through the majority of the time. The language is very YA, no crude sexual descriptions.
- World/Setting: Oak Creek, Oklahoma was set up as a small almost run down semi-rural American town. It only had two functioning restaurants and the AC just kept not working everywhere the characters would go. Air conditioning was a huge staple of this setting cause it was bloody hot, but it was mentioned way too much. This is not the small town American that charms you, it’s more the one that would have probably housed a bunch of Trump voters.
- Pacing: Pacing is very important to me when I read, cause I like to read fast and constantly be enthralled. The plot kept me hooked to the story, as I kept needing to know what would happen next. Pacing did lag though. The book clocks in at over 400 pages, which is long for contemp, and it definitely felt too long.
- Romance (yay or nay?): The romance was the only cutesy thing in this story. I was rooting for Elliott and Catherine the entire time, that never wavered. The pacing of their relationship was great in my opinion, no one rushed into anything or made brash decisions. Except for the secret Catherine withheld from everyone the communication in the relationship was pretty good. This element is what kept the book’s rating higher up on the scale.
My rating for this book is truly around a 3.5 but because Goodreads cannot possibly give us what we want (the ability to give half stars) I round up to…
I would recommend this book to somebody looking to transition from YA to NA or to someone who is already a huge fan of YA contemporary and wants to read a book that turns the genre on it’s head.
Thank you so much for reading and thank you again to Montlake and Netgalley!