I absolutely adored Stewart Foster’s debut ‘Bubble Boy’ so it was with high hopes that I set out to read ‘ All the Things That Could Go Wrong.’ This is a book that tells two very different stories about Dan and Alex who both find the reality of everyday life a struggle. Dan is consumed by rage after his brother left, and unable to deal with his emotions he torments Alex, honing in on his weaknesses and taking out his pain on him. For Alex life was incredibly difficult even before Dan started to make his life a misery, his severe OCD makes it hard for him to live a normal life. But their paths are unwittingly thrown together when their mums make a plan for them to meet outside of school and finish the raft that Dan started with his brother. This seems like the end of the world for both of them, the thought of spending their summer with their enemy fills them both with dread. But life has an unexpected way of surprising you and maybe this could be the start of a very unlikely friendship!
I’m pleased to say that Stewart Foster has again written an incredibly emotional and uplifting story which I struggled to put down. It’s rare to gain an insight into the mind of a bully, they are usually portrayed as mean perpetrators who delight in inflicting emotional and physical damage to their victims for no apparent reason. Yet by telling us Dan’s story, Stewart allows the reader to understand why he has become so angry allowing us to see how the impact of his brother’s influence has shaped his personality. We begin to care about Dan as we discover the emotional turmoil he suffers for the wrongs he commits against Alex and realise that he too is scared to stand up to his own peers. In contrast we see the anguish that Alex suffers as a result of this incessant bullying from Dan and his friends. We feel his fear and terror so intensely, it really is heart breaking and makes the reader truly involved in the story. Stewart deals with Alex’s OCD sympathetically but he’s not afraid to show the devastating effect it has on his family as they try to make sense of it and help him despite Alex’s best efforts to deter them. By allowing this friendship to develop Alex and Dan are given the opportunity to be different from how everyone sees them and they start to make tiny advances in learning to move on with their lives. A surprising and insightful story, this book needs to be in every school library. Wonderfully empathetic and beautifully written it deserves to be widely read.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of this brilliant book.