Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genres: YA, Contemporary, LGBT
Format: Paperback, review copy
Source: The publisher in exchange for an honest review
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A funny and moving love story about friends, first loves and self-discovery by Queen of Teen 2014.
When sixteen-year-old Toria Bland arrives at her new school she needs to work out who her friends are in a crazy whirl of worry, exam pressure and anxiety over fitting in. Things start looking up when Toria meets the funny and foul-mouthed Polly, who's the coolest girl that Toria has ever seen. Polly and the rest of the 'alternative' kids take Toria under their wing. And that's when she meets the irresistible Nico Mancini, lead singer of a local band - and it's instalove at first sight! Toria likes Nico, Nico likes Toria, but then there's Polly ... love and friendship have a funny way of going round in circles.
All of the Above was a bit of a gamble for me, I somehow only read 'a funny and moving love story about friends, first loves and self-discovery by Queen of Teen 2014' and I was sold. I knew that the author had written This Book is Gay but I had no idea what to expect from this book - it was great though!
Even though I absolutely loved the first page (read it here) it took me a while to get into. I managed to read the first page multiple times before actually turning the page to continue. I absolutely loved it when I got into it though! I really love the writing style and a definite plus is the fact that it features book lovers!
CharactersToria, of Victoria, Grand is our main character; she's 16, writes poems, reads and she's a blogger too. Toria is definitely one of my favorite characters ever, I couldn't help but like her. I loved seeing her transformation from shy, new girl to this outgoing, cool teen who didn't care what people think of her. Character development is definitely something I love seeing in books and there was a lot of it in this book!
Another thing I loved about Toria is the fact that she realizes that instalove is 'one of the worst tropes of young adult fiction' and it is! After seeing Nico for the first time she talks about instalove for a while and the fact that she's so rational about it all makes me love her even more. She makes quite a good case that it's instalust and not love because love takes time etc. etc. Yes. Toria is my kind of girl!
This book has a lot of great characters, especially the group that Toria is drawn towards. Beasley, Daisy, Polly, Alice and Alex and Freya. I'm not that fond of Alice and Alex to be honest; they're this couple I find quite strange and I don't think they, especially Alice, treat Toria that great. Freya I really liked until the end though; she always has her nose in a book and that I could definitely relate to! Beasley, Daisy and Polly is probably my favorite characters along with Toria. Daisy is a sweetheart, Polly is badass and Beasley is well, Beasley. I really don't know how to express my feelings about these characters as to make you love them just as much as I do! They're definitely my cup of tea and I wish I could bring them to life!
To be honest I relate to many of the characters quite a lot and I definitely struggled with my sexuality a couple of years ago and seeing so many teens in this book going through the same stuff I did made me feel less alone somehow. I wish I'd had such good friends when I went through it!
The storyI've already mentioned that I love the writing style, and I really do! It definitely made the story come to life!
The 'group' likes to hang around at this crazy golf place and I could just see the place! The Disapproving Seal whom Daisy loves, the difficult hole where it's all about luck and the friendships growing and happening there. It is just a place surrounded by positivity and I can still see it in vivid details.
So, even though there's like a crazy ammount of stuff happening in this book it doesn't feel packed, nothing feels forced and it somehow feels real!
I loved how being bisexual or even gay isn't a big deal in this book. They don't like labels so most of them don't call themselves either but the fact that the reaction to a statement saying you're bi or gay is 'oh, cool'. And it's not like there's only a single or two characters who aren't straight - there's seriously a bunch and for me that made it real.
I think this book is a 'happy place' or 'bright place' for me, being accepted for who you are, not having to worry about being different and just seeing these strong bonds between people is amazing. I've said it numerous times throughout this review but this book is real for me! I may not have had the same acceptance Toria got and I definitely didn't have that cool a friend group. But I struggled with my sexuality too!
I feel like I keep rambling and never really getting my thoughts clear across but I guess this is just one of those reviews! When I love a book as much as I love All of the Above it gets a hundred times harder to get my thoughts down but I'll say it in a few words now: the story feels real, the characters are fantastic, the positivity is inspiring and the book as a whole is perfection. I am so thankful for this story and I wish it was out a couple of years earlier as I could have benefited greatly from it!
If you struggle with your sexuality, read this book, you know what; no matter who you are - read it. It'll probably make you a better person.