All of the Above by James Dawson

All of the Above - William James Dawson

There were elements of this that I liked and a lot that I didn’t. In culmination it was a bit of a mess, but there were enough decent bits to keep me reading.


All of the Above is essentially a story about friends, but it’s also about a lot of other things,too. That was the overall problem, so many issues were touched upon that no particular one was looked at in any real depth and this was to the books detriment. There were parts I loved though, like how everyone hung out at the local crazy-golf course.


The story is told from the perspective of sixteen year old Toria. At the start of the book she’s just moved to a new town outside of London and has started at a new school. Soon after starting she makes friends with the crowd that doesn’t quite fit in with everyone else. This crowd of ‘misfits’ includes Polly, a pink-haired girl who isn’t afraid of anyone and swears at just about anything that moves.



Polly, the ring-leader of the crowd, take Toria to the local crazy-golf course where they all hangout. The first time she’s there she meets Nico, Polly’s ex-boyfriend. After Toria gets Polly’s blessing that her and Nico can begin a relationship, this is most of the focus of the first half of the book.


After a fairly meandering first-half, the story suddenly hits the accelerator and loads of other issues come into play, such as eating disorders, grief, sexuality and identity. The issue of whether love can transcend gender was the focus of the last portion of the book, but I felt that this was handled in such a way as to make it clique.


It was acknowledged during the narrative that a huge number of topics were hit upon and the rationalisation given was basically ‘this is a representation of life and life is messy.’ I felt this was a bit of a flimsy reason as to why the story was so diverse personally. I also didn’t like some of the narrative choices, for example every swear word appeared like this f*****. This was really annoying because when starred words appeared I would pause to work out which word it was, which took time if it wasn’t an obvious one like f***. The wording choice was also a little strange at times and didn’t always feel authentic.


I liked elements of this, especially the addition of the crazy golf course shutting down, which sparked Polly and her friends to campaign for its reopening. It was also pretty realistic and quite fun at times. Unfortunately it was a bit too clique for me and muddied with too many issues.