Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Montlake Romance
The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town.
Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart.
Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.
The one word I would use to describe All the Little Lights is irresponsible.
It’s going to be hard to communicate my overwhelmingly negative thoughts and feelings towards this novel without spoiling anything, so bear with me as I navigate the spoiler minefield.
Jamie McGuire introduced me to the romance/new adult genre with Beautiful Disaster and I’ve been a fan ever since. So, when I seen her latest release on NetGalley I requested it immediately. Unfortunately, not only is it an overly long and boring romance, it is also mislabeled in terms of genre. On NetGalley, it’s labeled as general giction (gdult) and on Goodreads it’s labeled as romance, rontemporary, then young adult. All the Little Lights is most definitely a contemporary young adult novel, not an adult novel. This isn’t necessarily a criticism, however young adult romances do not interest me. A combined page long description from both perspectives about holding hands does not appeal to me.
All The Little Lights follows Elliot and Catherine as they fall in love, but are torn apart only be reunited years later. Now, Elliot and Catherine are seniors looking toward the future, but Catherine’s mother and her mysterious bed and breakfast are holding Catherine back.
All the Little Lights is about 200 pages too long. It’s incredibly slow paced with nothing happening other than typical, juvenile high school drama. McGuire employs the mean girl trope with the unpopular main character cliché. These coupled with the star quarterback falling in love with the unpopular main character who then becomes popular herself made All the Little Lights one big eye roll.
The mystery of the bed and breakfast is incredibly frustrating. McGuire hints at the mystery throughout the entire novel, but doesn’t do anything with it until the last 10% of the novel. There is obviously something nefarious happening at the bed and breakfast, but none of the other characters push Catherine to divulge the information leaving the reader frustrated and in the dark until the final moments of the novel. In hindsight, the climax of the novel should have been obvious, but I couldn’t believe McGuire used [insert spoiler here] as a plot device.
That’s about all I can say about this novel without spoiling anything, so see below for more of my spoilery thoughts. I will not spoil anything directly; however the general terms I’ll be speaking in may make the climax of the novel obvious.
I absolutely LOATHE with authors use mental illness as a plot device. I’m all for showcasing mental illness in novels even when it features unhealthy coping mechanisms because it’s always good to represent different handlings of emotions and stress. However, when an author deliberately uses a mental illness as a climax to a mystery and perpetuates a false view of how people with specific mental illnesses behave is absolutely disgusting and irresponsible. Mental health stigma is real and will continue to be real with these types of stories on the market.
***I received an ARC via Netgalley for an honest review.