A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that All This Time, by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott (Five Feet Apart), is a romance about a teen boy figuring out how to deal with grief and loss after his girlfriend dies in a car accident. Popular high school senior Kyle Lafferty has it all going for him -- football star, pretty girlfriend, acceptance to UCLA -- when he and his girlfriend, Kim, get in a terrible car accident during an argument and Kim dies. In the months that follow, Kyle meets Marley, a teen grieving her own loss. As their romance develops, surprising obstacles throw Kyle for a loop, forcing him to confront his personal issues and figure out how to grow as a person. Because this is a romance, expect lots of discussions of relationships, desire, some kissing, and a few references to teens having sex, including one descriptive make-out scene. Teens drink alcohol a few times, and there's infrequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole"). The violence is limited to flashbacks of the accident and descriptions of injuries. The story presents discussion opportunities about teen relationships and working through trauma.
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What's the story?
At the outset of ALL THIS TIME, Kyle and Kim are the "it" couple of their high school, wrapping up their senior year at the prom. They've been together for years and are planning to go to the same university. During a big argument about their future, Kyle's car is hit by a truck, with tragic results. He wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kim is dead. His guilt and grief are all-consuming for months. When he's finally well enough to visit Kim's grave, he meets Marley, a teen grappling with her own tragic loss. Though he's still in physical and emotional pain, Kyle finds in Marley someone who gets what he's going though, and their friendship develops into romance. Kyle still has flashes of his accident and sometimes sees Kim lurking in the shadows, making him wonder whether he's really ready to move on. Is he experiencing the effects of his brain injury or PTSD? He gets some startling answers to his concerns, sending him on a journey of self-examination, healing, and growth.
Is it any good?
This teen romance has some positive messages about healing and personal growth, but the story gets bogged down in a contrived, frustrating plot and ridiculous plot twists. All This Time focuses on Kyle's emotional and physical journey after he's injured in car accident and his girlfriend is killed. The positive aspects of the story are centered on Kyle learning to be a better friend and working through his grief. Readers will see that physical and emotional recovery is a series of small steps that lead to big change. The problem is that Kyle's a romantic to the point of being sappy and dull. The story is told from his point of view, and his character isn't engaging enough. He's emotionally stuck for a good chunk of the book, so the reader is stuck with him. Marley, too, is one-dimensional. The dialogue is flowery and unrealistic, a case of the authors putting "message-y" wording in teens' mouths. The authors try to juice up the story with a few big plot twists, but they elicit more eyerolls than gasps. They were trying way too hard to tick off a lot of teen romance plot points, but ended up with a contrived, uninteresting story.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how grief and loss are portrayed in All This Time and other stories. Do you think Kyle's behavior is believable? How does it compare with how other books you've read or movies you've seen show characters dealing with these issues?
Kyle doesn't respond well to honest feedback, but he learns to reflect and grow. How well do you take criticism? Is this something you need to work on? How can you make that happen?
What makes a plot twist satisfying and feel "earned"? What makes one feel contrived?
- Authors: Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, High School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: September 29, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: October 1, 2020
Our editors recommend
For kids who love romance and stories of grief
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