All This Time

Cover of the book "All This Time"

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Book Review

In All This Time, a guy named Kyle has his future pretty well mapped out after high school. Until, that is, a car accident on graduation night sends his world spinning and leaves him with head injuries and nightmares. From there Kyle must rebuild a life that he’s not sure he even wants to live anymore. However, thanks to the help of a sad young woman he meets with a knack for weaving fairy tales, he starts to piece things back together. But Kyle can’t shake the sense that something is off, something isn’t what it seems. And he’s right.   

Plot Summary

The future was mapped out as far as Kyle was concerned. Yeah, an unfortunate accident on the football field took away his athletic scholarship and dreams of being a star quarterback. But he still had his girlfriend, Kimberly, by his side. And he still had plans for them both to attend UCLA after graduation. And from there, their happy life was pretty much assured. Or so he thought.

Kyle has held that clear vision of his future for some time. That’s one of the reasons he bought Kim the charm bracelet he planned to give her at their high school graduation party. It had charms representing their friendship and their connection since they started dating in, like, sixth grade. And there’s plenty of space on the bracelet for charms that the future will give them.

Problem is, great visions and mapped-out charming plans of the future don’t always pan out.

On the night of the graduation party—while whisking Kim away to their favorite hideaway during a freak rainstorm—Kim not only breaks up with Kyle, but they then end up in a car accident. And Kyle wakes up in the hospital with major head injuries and the news that his beloved Kim is dead.

Feeling guilty and lost, Kyle must restart and rebuild a life that he’s not even sure he wants to live anymore. And that requires, first of all, realizing how self-focused and selfish he used to be. With time, though, and the support of family and friends, he starts to piece things back together. And a big part of that support comes from a sad young woman named Marley who Kyle meets while visiting Kim’s grave. Marley has seen loss of her own, but she has a knack for weaving life’s sad stories into sweet Once Upon a Time fairy tales.

Healing, and a new sense of caring (loving?) begins to take place in Kyle’s still-limping life. But does he deserve it? Should he expect anything good? Kyle can’t help but think that something isn’t quite right: things aren’t really what they seem. He can’t keep himself from feeling that it’s all a little wrong and that everything will likely come crashing down once more.

And he’s right in more ways than he can even imagine.

Christian Beliefs

None.

Other Belief Systems

Kyle begins having visions (though they’re not of spiritual origin) of Kim popping up and lingering in his world. And he’s not so sure that he believes his doctor, who suggests that the visions are just a symptom of his injured and healing brain. Some events later on make him think that he might be caught in a magical tug-and-pull between two different planes of existence. [Spoiler Warning] Eventually, however, he finds that there’s a very real-world explanation for everything he’s seeing.

Authority Roles

Kyle’s mother is a wonderfully caring and loving woman. She’s gone through great loss herself, especially after the death of Kyle’s dad some years before. Not only does that give her an extra dose of empathy for what her son is going through, it also draws the two of them closer together.  And Kyle begins to spot signs of her grief that he had missed as a child. “One step at a time,” she assures her son as he struggles with his emotional pain. “Always forward. Never back.”

Kyle’s female doctor also plays a mother-like figure in his life as well. Still, she’s sternly focused on his health and healing, and she quickly cracks down on any of his less than wise choices.

Profanity & Violence

There’s quite a lot of foul language in the dialogue mix—including many f- and s-words and other crudities. It’s obvious that the authors believe profanity is a normal part of late teen conversation.

Kyle and his school friend Sam also drink together now and then. Kyle has a flask that he drinks from occasionally and Sam smuggles six packs over to Kyle’s house. But since the two guys are both under 21, they keep their drinking under wraps. Kyle’s mom spots Sam with a six pack of beer at one point and quickly takes it away. Kyle has his flask of Jack Daniels at the party before his accident but never gets around to drinking from it. We hear of Kyle stealing a bottle of his mother’s champagne and sharing it with Kim during a “prom-posal.”

After the car accident, Kyle sees his reflection and describes the flap of torn skin and cracked skull bone on his forehead. We also hear about the searing headaches and physical pain that accompanies Kyle’s therapy and recovery. And Kyle has nightmares that center around the accident and feature quite a bit of blood. Kyle also describes his injuries during a football game when his arm is broken.

Sexual Content

We hear about Kyle waking up next to and kissing Kim after his mom went out of town and Kim snuck over to spend the night. Kyle and Marley also eventually fall in love and embrace, caress and kiss one another. Their impassioned necking leads to implied lovemaking that the narrative does not explore. (Kyle speaks of looking closely at Marley in her underwear; after kissing, the two later awake in each other’s arms.)

Discussion Topics

What do you think this story is saying about the support of family and friends? Can you use your own past experience with grief or loss to help others who are going through the same thing? For that matter, what do you think is the best way to relate to someone who has lost someone dear to them?

Do you think it’s wise for teenagers to make romantic plans while they’re in high school? What do you think this novel is saying about that approach to relationships?

Are there teen choices in this story that are similar to some you’ve seen in your school or among your friends? What good or bad impact do you think they have?

How did this book impact you emotionally and why? What did you like most about this book?

Get free discussion questions for other books at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments

All This Time is the second YA novel from Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott, bestselling authors of Five Feet Apart. That alone will motivate some young readers to pick up this book. Parents should be aware, however, that this book closely examines the grief and guilt that people often feel when they’re involved in an accident or when responsible for a harm that’s caused. That can lead to a cathartic positive for some while negatively triggering others.

You can request a review of a title you can’t find at [email protected].

Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not necessarily their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book’s review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Review by Bob Hoose

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