Book Review: All That’s Bright and Gone

All That's Bright and GoneAll That’s Bright and Gone: A Novel by Eliza Nellums

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.

Review:
This was an interesting book. Told from 6 year old Aoife’s point of view, we learn about her mother’s mental illness, the struggles of her family, and the loss of her brother. Aoife isn’t exactly an unreliable narrator, but definitely one with limited understanding, which makes the story all that more interesting.
Because the story is told from a child’s point of view, the narrative is honest, innocent, and can often make interesting leaps. Aoife knows that her brother is dead, does not question her mother’s strange behaviour, and has an imaginary friend.
Nellums does a great job of getting into the head of a six year old. The writing feels authentic and not at all condescending. I found myself drawn into this girl’s world, trying to solve the mystery with her. As an adult reader we can see how Aoife is interpreting or misinterpreting some of the adult behaviour and this definetly adds to the tension and suspense of the book. We, like Aoife, just want to find out what really happened to her brother.
Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the review copy.
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