All the Wind in the World

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
All the Wind in the World Book Poster Image
Gripping romance, touch of magic in futuristic wasteland.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

All the Wind in the World is set on a ranch in the drought-ravaged Southwest and presents a detailed picture of the area's geography.

Positive Messages

Playing with people's emotions is a dangerous game. Listening to gossip can have tragic results. The book raises questions about love and loyalty.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Sarah Jac and James have to live by their wits in order to survive, but they also take advantage of people they can manipulate. They end up hurting each other in ways unimaginable at the start of the novel. Sarah Jac is the one who sees most acutely the suffering around them.

Violence

Living conditions on the ranch are brutal. Supporting characters die in a public execution. A swarm of bees attacks the workers, and in their panic, some of the ranch hands turn on each other. A major character is fatally slashed with a blade.

Sex

Sarah Jac and James pretend to be cousins, but they are a romantic couple and are presumably physically intimate. In the course of the novel, they share a few passionate embraces, but the descriptions are not graphic.

Language

Occasional strong language, with multiple uses of "s--t," "f--k," "bitch," "damn," and "pissed."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sarah Jac, James, and their co-workers get drunk on tequila and mescal on a couple of occasions.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that All the Wind in the World, by Samantha Mabry (A Fierce and Subtle Poison), is a romance set in a futuristic desert wasteland. The main characters are on the run from accusations of murder. They share a few passionate embraces, and there are hints they have sex, but it's not described. The violent scenes -- a public execution, a murder, two attacks by swarms of bees -- may disturb some readers. There's occasional strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k").

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What's the story?

At the start of ALL THE WIND IN THE WORLD, mixed-race Sarah Jac accidentally causes a death and is forced to flee with her boyfriend, James, who's white, to The Real Marvelous Ranch. People say the ranch is cursed, but Sarah Jac and James need to stay there until they can replenish their cash reserves and head to the ocean in the East. Both start working in the fields, harvesting maguey, which will be turned into mescal. Sarah's recognized for her skill with horses and moves up to the owner's house to teach his difficult younger daughter. But when James catches the eye of the terminally ill older girl, the stage is set for jealousy, misunderstanding, and tragedy.

Is it any good?

This book's distinctive setting distinguishes it from the run-of-the-mill, and its landscape, beaten down by the sun and the wind, mirrors the storm at the heart of the main characters' romance. Author Samantha Mabry keeps the stakes in All the Wind in the World at the level of life and death. And her characters are as vivid and as gritty as the terrain they traverse. Her prose is rich and evocative without seeming overwritten. The plot will keep readers guessing, and some may find the ending unsettling. This stand-alone slice of magical realism is likely to enchant a wide range of readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how All the Wind in the World presents a future world ravaged by drought. How do you think climate change is affecting the health of our planet?

  • Can all the events in the novel be explained logically, or is there an element of the supernatural at play in the plot?

  • How can desperate people be manipulated into believing in witchcraft and prophesies?

Book details

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