Monday, May 21, 2018

All the Little Lights - Review

All the Little Lights

By: Jamie McGuire

Expected Publication: May 29th 2018 by Montlake Romance


Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire comes a riveting tale of first love that starts young but runs deep.

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.

I've read several of Jamie McGuire's New Adult books, but to see her publish something young adult was really exciting for me because I tend to like her writing in general and her stories, but I don't really enjoy the descriptive scenes that come with the New Adult genre.

The description of All the Little Lights reminded me of Tillie Cole's A Thousand Boy Kisses. While the two certainly have pieces in common (a friendship from youth that has an undertone of the potential for more, the boy has to leave, and the betrayal of being apart that needs to be reconciled once the two find their way back to each other), plenty was certainly there to separate the two books.

While reading All the Little Lights, I had a lot of questions. Things didn't make a ton of sense in several areas. I wondered if Catherine's big secret would turn out to be something trivial. I didn't understand the guests of the Juniper or their motivations and how they played into the story. Catherine at times mentioned being afraid of certain guests but then at times said there was nothing to be afraid of. She also seemed to like other guests but would at time respond to them with bitterness. I wondered if Jamie McGuire could pull off answering all of my questions in a way that would satisfy me without feeling like a letdown. She really, really did. I was genuinely surprised and enjoyed how everything worked out and revealed itself.

I will say that I had two questions at the end of the book that were left unanswered. I didn't understand Tess as a character really and I wish there'd been some more information concerning her and how she fit in. She felt like either she didn't fully belong in the story or she was left out of a major plot point that she was maybe originally designed to be. Either way, I felt a disconnect there. And then my other question revolved around Catherine's future. I can't go into detail without spoiling certain parts of the book.

Of course, I really enjoyed the romance between Catherine and Elliot. I did roll my eyes at Catherine's "maybe you're better off without me" attitude at times. But overall the two really clung to each other in a way that I loved.

I particularly loved Mrs. Mason and as an adult found the side story between her and Mr. Mason particularly enjoyable and complex.

Favorite quotes:

-"My Uncle John says people can only make us angry if we let them, and if we let them, we give them power."

-You are in control of your emotions. You're in control of your reaction. You can, at any time, change the way you feel.

-It's good, you know, for things not to come easy.

-"You can't get someone out of quicksand if you're stuck in it, too," I said.

All the Little Lights was more than I expected it to be. Maybe I should have seen the big surprise coming, but I totally didn't. I really enjoyed the romance between Elliot and Catherine. I read this one really quickly which is always good. And I was ultimately happy with the way that Jamie McGuire wrapped up this puzzle leaving me with only a couple of questions. All the Little Lights gets 4 Stars. Have you read All the Little Lights? What did you think? Let me know!


  1. I had that question too but I’m thinking that Tess is Catherine’s other personality and that’s what Mama is hinting at at the end of the book when she tells Catherine not to worry and then abruptly stops speaking when Elliot comes back to the table. Also there were a couple times the music box started on its own and I’m wondering if Tess is the one who started it.

  2. I am super confused about Tess and the “secret” mama will keep. Wondering if she’s just trying to bait for a second book? I felt like the book was really murky and trying to do an Eleanor oliphant thing that just didn’t work here. Am a fan of Jamie’s other books but this one seemed a rush job with a bad ending and poor editing. There were even a few parts I wondered if my kindle had missing pages in.

  3. Typically multiple personalities don’t speak to each other. I thought maybe it’s a hallucination? It’s really confusing and the book was very garbled.

  4. I was left with the unanswered question of all the missing guests and their luggage in the basement. What happened to them? If mama killed them, why did she kill them? Made no sense to me

  5. brain is a real thing and to be honest I can't remember much exactly to answer your questions. But thanks so much for commenting Clare!

  6. I think she killed them because real guests could pose a hazard...exposing her. But I really could be wrong. My mommy brain isn't what it used to be in terms of memory and it has been several months since I read this book. I wish I could answer some of your questions better. Thanks for stopping by and commenting Katie!

  7. I wondered if Tess was maybe an imaginary friend... the way she just showed up sometimes as rather odd.

  8. Mama explained that what happened to Presley is exactly what happened to the rest of them—and they were buried out back. I assumed she was talking about the actual guests who disappeared leaving behind their belongings.

  9. I think Catherine pretty much explained that the “secret” is that Mama is actually all of the people she talks about patroning the Juniper. I don’t understand why Tess would be allowed to know, since she wasn’t named as one of the personalities...unless Tess was an imaginary friend of Catherine. Maybe the author is suggesting that the apple doesn’t roll too far from the tree... 🤷🏻‍♀️

  10. I think one thing's for certain...Tess's character and what she contributed or meant to the story was not fleshed out enough. There's too much confusion and speculation surrounding her. I completely agree with you Angie...rather odd indeed. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. I thought it was explained, but I really couldn't remember. Thanks for clarifying Angie!

  12. See I really felt like Tess was supposed to be on the personalities but got left out of the explanation there at the end. But I did also wonder if Catherine might have the split personality disorder as well as sometimes mental conditions can run in families. However, it wouldn't really make sense to me that Catherine's interacting with Tess if she WAS Tess. Yet, I guess that would be a throw back to the scene where all of the "guests" aka Mama's personalities were meeting about what to do about Catherine and how to keep her from leaving the Juniper for good. Shrugs. I guess we'll never know! Very good comments Angie! Thanks so much!

  13. I thought the same thing about the personalities not speaking to each other, but there was the scene where all of the personalities had a meeting to vote on what should be done to keep Catherine at the Juniper. So maybe that was Jamie McGuire's way of saying that the personalities could talk to each other and Tess might be one of Catherine's personalities as mental illnesses can be hereditary. Yet she also makes it very clear that Mama is better or worse based off of Catherine playing along with her or not. So I'm not really sure. One thing is clear, Jamie McGuire didn't spell things out enough for the reader to have all of their questions answered. Thanks for commenting Jenn and Clare!

  14. I agree .. I think the secret mama said she would keep at the end of the book is that Tess is one of Catherine's other personalities... that Catherine is in fact like her mother. Catherine's mothers personalities spoke to each other in the book as well. Catherine was talking to Tess( herself) when no one else was around. I am hoping this is left open to allow for a second books where that is explored while she is in college.

  15. I just finished the book and had all the same questions about who Tess is and what secret Mama claims she can keep at the end. I think the author is definitely hinting at Catherine also having Dissociative Identity Disorder. There's a scene in the book where Catherine wakes up and can't remember getting out of the shower and into bed. She mentions "losing time". That's one of the core symptoms of DID so I think it's obvious that she also has the disorder. But then it doesn't make sense that she loses time and also talks to Tess 🤔 People with DID typically lose time when they're unaware of their other personalities, and can usually only talk to other personalities if they're aware of them. So Catherine being able to talk to Tess indicates she's aware of a second personality, but losing time indicates she's not aware of a second personality. I really hope there's a second book and all of these questions can be answered!