Parents' Guide to

All Together Now!

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Moving story of quirky optimist finding hope after tragedy.

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A teen girl fights to regain her joy after tragedy strikes in this emotional journey through grief and hope. At the beginning of All Together Now!, self-described "freak" Amber Appleton fights against her uncertain, unhoused existence by relying on her optimistic outlook and upbeat nature. The story is told from Amber's point of view, and unfortunately her character voice gets tiresome at times. Author Matthew Quick was clearly trying for kooky, quirky teen girl, but the overuse of her peculiar slang is distracting, annoying, and unrealistic. She frequently uses words like "hooey," refers to people by odd acronyms and nicknames, and ends sentences with "Word? Word." "True? True." It distracts from the book's overall great message, which is that when you do good for the right reasons and build community where none exists, good things will happen.

The odd collection of characters Amber befriends is charming, and it's heartwarming and tear-jerking to watch them all come together to support her when she needs it most. The story maintains a good balance between heavy and light. Much of what happens isn't very realistic, but that doesn't matter too much here. Sometimes you just need to cheer on a sweet kid facing tough times.

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