Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1101
compelling and thought-provoking
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is an intensely challenging and thought-provoking read with some magical realism elements. In the book, there is a trigger/content warning up front and center, but this does not always appear on online listings, so I will start by saying that this book contains sexual assault, sexual and physical violence, and PTSD. This story is made all the more poignant for the basis of the assault being from the author's own life. This is also what gives it a very real feel and makes the characters come to life all the more.

The main character, Ava, was sexually assaulted by a stranger when she was nine years old. The traumatic event left her with a scar on her face in addition to the many invisible scars she carries. She carries this with her, and events that happen after are often defined by others as relating to the assault. This is inseparable, however.

Ava has found a body of a woman/girl in the woods. Knowing what could happen if she reports it, she instead tries to protect this body, which she refers to as Jane, and to try to figure out what happened to her. She begins to see Jane and speak with her, leading her to do things she has never has done before. She lives a relatively sheltered life, and her desire to protect Jane is taking her outside of that.

At the same time, she is bonding with a new romantic partner, a girl who she is getting to know better. She has never sought out such relationships, and this one marks an important change in herself and her life. The romance is both complimentary to the main story and beautiful in its own right.

What I loved: This is not an easy read, and the fact that it is challenging is part of what makes it important. Ava's experiences and reflections are really poignant and carry off the page very well. It is easy to understand her and slide into her world, making this a really strong story. I also really enjoyed the romance and how raw, lovely, and true it felt.

What left me wanting more: As a relatively smaller point, I really wish that there had been some therapy involved. I know that not everyone gets help in these situations, but I love for people to see resources and how to get help. On the plus side, there will be an inclusion of a resources list for readers.

Final verdict: Compelling and thought-provoking, this book is SADIE meets THE LOVELY BONES. Would recommend for people looking for a deep, psychological, and challenging but ultimately pensive and raw read.
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