All Things New, by Lauren Miller
Genre: Young Adult
Publish: August 1st, 2017
Source: I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Jessa Gray has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn’t help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and noticeable scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, but things go from bad to worse when she realizes she’s seeing bruises and scars on the people around her that no one else can see. She blames it on the accident, but as her body heals and the hallucinations continue, Jessa wonders if what she’s seeing could somehow have a deeper meaning. In her quest for answers, she falls for Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.
ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world.
How might a soul look if we could stare it in the face?
I was instantly hooked the second I started the book. I easily became attached to the characters and their storylines and found myself not wanting to put the book down!
Jessa struggles with anxiety and leads a very guarded life. But when she suffers a traumatic car crash that leaves her with life-changing hallucinations (she can see bruises and scars on people’s faces, although they are not physically visible) and a severely scarred face, she learns a lot more about herself and the people around her. All Things New discusses psychological topics such as aphantasia (mind blindness), anxiety, and addiction, while also introducing philosophical viewpoints of them (Angels are involved, but even if you aren’t religious, it’s still a good read!). With complex, yet relatable characters and an emotional storyline, it’s a YA story that definitely makes you reflect on yourself and the hidden scars we all share.
Let me start with Jessa; she’s not your typical protagonist. She’s stubborn, yet incredibly vulnerable. The story is told through her perspective and voice, which is especially interesting during her panic attacks. Although in her dialogue with others she may come off as hard-headed or blunt, her inner thoughts show a much different side of her. What makes her character relatable and worth rooting for is how genuine and raw her inner dialogue is. Whether she is expressing her unavoidable, anxious thoughts or the fears she feels for her friends, you will definitely find yourself connecting with her.
‘Sometimes when we have a thing that makes us stand out, we start believing that one thing is all we have. We don’t know who we’d be without it. If we’d be anyone at all.’
When Jessa moves to Colorado, she quickly becomes friends with Hannah, a perfectionist who is incredibly talented, but also very hard on herself. Hannah prioritizes piano over friends and family, and isn’t vocal at all about her problems or feelings. Although some may find Hannah’s character selfish or irritable, I thought she was very relatable. Since Hannah’s character is quite private about her internal struggles, her only physical proof of any “pain” is her stress-induced eczema, which I can strongly relate to. In high school, I was the exact same way. I had psoriasis and eczema from stress and also struggled with being vocal about my internal issues, because I did not know how to effectively deal with them. Although Hannah’s character seemed quite private, her true personality and vulnerability shined through as the story progressed.
What we have is right now, this moment, when things aren’t okay yet, but in a sense they already are, because in the end they will be, and as long as that’s true, it’s enough.
After befriending Hannah, Jessa meets Marshall, Hannah’s twin brother. Jessa instantly feels comfortable with Marshall, because of his friendly and welcoming personality. He cares a lot about Jessa and encourages her to open up and seek help. Of course, he has his own issues too, which made him and Jessa even closer. At times, Marshall’s positive personality reminded me of Gus from The Fault In Our Stars, but I also found him to be a much more understanding character. What made Marshall special was that he never crowded Jessa and he remained patient throughout the entire book, despite her being hesitant towards romantic relationships. He’s the perfect, adorable YA boyfriend character!
‘It’s a mess,’ I say, shifting in my seat. ‘I’m a mess’.
He shrugs. ‘So am I. So is everyone on the planet.’
All Things New is an empowering and uplifting story, that teaches readers they are not alone, because everyone has their own “scars” and “bruises“. Make sure to add this book to your reading list; it comes out August 1st!