All We Could Have Been

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: Not set

Member Reviews

I wanted to love this so much. Carter's I Stop Somewhere hit me so hard last year that I listed it among my favourite books of 2018. This one just didn't come close to affecting me in the same way.

There are several reasons, and I think one is that I Stop Somewhere alternates between the past and a present which is told in a very poetic and unique writing style. All We Could Have Been is less experimental, more of a traditional high school novel about a new girl with a dark past, a blooming romance, and unfair rumours flying everywhere. I just recently read a book that did a similar thing - The Burning - and I actually enjoyed that one more.

The characters' voices here also seemed on the younger side for high school seniors. By my understanding of the American school system, that should put them at 17-18 years old, and yet they read a good 4 or 5 years younger to me. It didn't help that Lexi never seemed to develop her own distinct personality. Everything is about how she reacts to everyone else, and what they feel. It was difficult to transport myself into her mind and world.

Lexi starts a new school with a new name, in order to run away from the stigma of her brother's crimes. The first half of the book is slow, and is largely made up of daily school life-- making new friends, auditioning for the school play, and some vague hints about what her brother might have done. It was really difficult to get interested in the plot. The only real driving force of the narrative was the mystery around Lexi's brother, and it is just not that exciting.

The second half of the book is what happens when people at her new school find out. This is more dynamic, but I feel like I've read many versions of this story, and many of them were better. If you're looking for something similar, you could try the aforementioned The Burning, or even better, just read an early Courtney Summers's book like Some Girls Are.

I was also unimpressed by the direction the romance took. It's a really big pet peeve of mine when a character's journey to self-acceptance is fuelled by a romance, and here Lexi relies on Marcus to explain why everything is not her fault and alleviate some of her anxiety symptoms.

There were some things I did like. I liked how things were resolved with Chloe, and that the book had asexual rep. There were some interesting ideas about morality, complexity and judgement. Rory, especially, had the potential to be such an interesting character-- I’d really love to see a book about a Rory type; someone who is so concerned with abstract morals that they forget the moral complexity of human beings.

One last thing - and this is a genuine question, not a criticism - does the thing with Scott's hearing really happen? Do law professionals truly ask 17 year olds if their incarcerated family member is capable of rehabilitation? If they do, that is messed up. A) why they would put a minor through that? and B) why they would take the opinion of a criminal’s little sister into consideration when deciding his future? Genuinely curious about this.
Was this review helpful?
When I read the blurb for this, I needed to read it. It's my first T. E. Carter book and it won't be my last. I was so engaged from the first page.

The relationships between not only Lexi and her friends, but her family were so real. The grief and trying to find yourself at a time when most are trying to figure themselves out who don't have big secrets is captivating. 

I would recommend this book for sure. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to review this.
Was this review helpful?
Lexi is always the new girl, always starting over thanks to her family's situation and her dead brother. Only this time she's with her aunt and not her parents.

In her latest town she needs to finally make it through a whole school year to get to stay there and make friends and her grades.

As she makes friends with Ryan and gets a feel for her new school, she even wants to join the drama group and perform in their production or Romeo and Juliet.

However a slip of the tongue and her real name and past could just be a Google away...

So when she falls for the guy she gets warned about, Marcus the guy from across the road, she finds herself in danger of revealing her identity and her brother's horrific secret...

A story about discovering love, friendship and how to deal with grief when it hits full force. In the book we see how one person's actions can destroy multiple lives and the impact of devastating actions on the family in this novel are severely moving and sadly understandable. It was a gripping read and was a great book about rebuilding a life and becoming you again.

Many thanks to the publishers for allowing me to review this book for them!
Was this review helpful?
All We Could Have Been is a genuinely absorbing and very emotional novel, with themes of grief and sense of self, looked at from a different and extremely compelling angle.

Lexi is a layered and engaging character to follow along with, as she once again attempts to start anew- despite herself she starts to hope, to integrate, but her reality is never far behind her and facing the unknown can be a dark path indeed.

I loved the levels of this story, one in which coming of age is a more than usual challenge. Lexi doesn’t know how to define herself beyond that which her Brother did, a horrific act revealed in stages through her narrative. Her coping mechanisms are many but how can you be yourself when all anyone see’s is that one deeply disturbing event, when they wonder about your own personal demons, when acceptance is non existent.

This then is what she faces, what I loved about this one was the pure authenticity of it, the harsh realities of living a life in someone else’s shadow. The author doesn’t mollycoddle but does offer hope through the people Lexi meets, sometimes that hope is justified sometimes not, but in the entirety of the story there are no easy answers, no palatable closures but genuine possibilities.

If you want complete answers or a neatly wrapped up tale this won’t work for you but if you like to be pushed into thinking outside the box, if you want thought provoking storytelling with strong yet honestly flawed characters then All We Could Have Been should definitely be on your reading radar.

Sometimes Young Adult novels explore the depths of human nature in more complex ways than adult fiction can, this is one of those times so All We Could Have Been comes very much re commended by me.
Was this review helpful?
A tense and well written novel.

The moment I read the blurb I knew this was something that I really wanted to read. The story itself is well executed and the characters are interesting and full of life.
I would recommend this for sure!
Was this review helpful?