All That You Are by Elicia Roper
When soulmates Athena and Caiden get some startling news that threatens to separate them forever- and turn their lives upside down- they must accept and attempt to cope with the sobering reality that their uncertain future holds.
With POC, blended families, true-crime elements, and a beautiful romance that leaves the reader in awe, it’s hard not to get attached to this enthralling book that captivates its audience with every twist and turn of the plot.
This coming-of-age novel tells the story of Athena and Caiden.
💔Emotional + Heart-warming
🧠Mental Health Rep
😭She cares for him when he has nightmares
🍩Cinnamon roll hero
😂Entertaining family dynamics
🍬Sweet and endearing friendships
💘Friends to Lovers troupe
😍Guy Falls First
What was it all about
All That You Are was an author-requested book that I downloaded as soon as Elicia Roper sent me a message. The reasons were many. The inclusion of persons of color (as I am), coming of age, forgiveness, heartbreaking news, emotions, family, friendships, mental health issues, and enduring relationships. The cover too helped to seal the deal.
With great gusto, I got into this friends-to-lovers-themed book, where Caiden and Athena met on an outing arranged by her best friends, soon liked each other, and dealt with all the ups and downs of life together. It was kind of a YA-NA innocent love.
Perhaps the first book in the series and the author’s debut, I went into the book with no expectations, and being a lazy Sunday afternoon, I just wanted to distract my mind for a couple of hours.
The book did fit into the genre it was slotted for – clean romance. And I liked how the author kept the book beautifully light. The cover of the book too helped me decide to read it today.
Trigger Warnings: Abandonment, Illness, death of a loved one.
Forgiveness and mental health were deeply embedded in the second half of the book, and I quite enjoyed the latter part of the book as compared to the initial pages.
Compared to other books in this genre, I felt the author could have done better research on how a young love was written. The scenes were all present, but they were not formatted well enough to flow. Hear me out in the rest of the review.
The book started with two girls smashing things which was a banging prologue. But then later down the pages, what the women supposedly did regularly was never mentioned. So I felt this was written as the first page to pull the readers in and to make us feel that the heroine was a firecracker.
Then came the main character and her friends and family and the guys where none of their relationships were explained in the book. They were just floating heads where the family dynamics were described at around 40%. So, in the interim I was reading and rereading the lines like a headless chook, not knowing who belonged to whom and how many siblings the main characters had.
I was told there was a POC rep in the blurb, but there were no physical descriptions so again, I had these characters, but I couldn’t keep them on track in my mind.
Only in the second half, when the book settled down after showing the innocent get-togethers all the young adults had, did I get to know and connect with the main characters. But the first half was absolutely wasted in my trying to decipher who was who.
So, the bottom line was – the characters were nice but pages and lines were wasted in frivolous stuff, so I couldn’t connect emotionally to them. Hence, their actions in the second half were not believable.
The plot line, like any other clean romance, was girl met boy, became friends, then started dating. The concept was very sweet, and it was nice to see them caring for each other, even when they had some soul-crushing news to bear. I liked that the characters were strong enough to be there for each other.
But was I convinced they were soulmates? NO. The emotions were written as good-sounding words, but they were superficial, none of the feelings seeped into the words. Being the debut and I knew how difficult emotions were to write, I still wished the author had gone deep down into her soul and put the raw emotions into words. That would have helped me to connect with the genuineness of the author.
Relationships were rounded, and there was a lot of love between the members of the family. The teasing by siblings was sweet to read. I liked how the author showed us what real families could be like. This was revealed more in the second half rather than the first.
In the first 40 to 45%, I felt that the main characters were kids who went on roller coaster rides and had three-legged races. And they kept popping all over the place without a description, so that kept me completely confused. The scenes needed careful polishing so that at every point readers were not left confused. All these things diluted my emotions, but I continued reading.
The book ended abruptly for me because I expected it to end with the lovers but it ended with the healing of another relationship. I thought there would be a final chapter or epilogue with the main characters, but it was THE END.
That was unexpected.
There were simply no descriptions for me to tell you where the setting of the book was. I was told that they were in different places, but hardly any words that would help me immerse myself in that setting.
The story moved fast – too fast – and the chapters were short. So, you would think it was read fast. Nope. Nada. It took me two hours to read 50 pages because I didn’t understand who all those characters were and how life had affected them. And the three-legged race made me think they were kids. So, I didn’t know what timeline I was reading.
The setting too kept changing so frequently that I didn’t know where the scene was being held because enough time and words on pages were not given to that scene.
The second half was much better, though if you ask me to describe the houses of the main characters or their physical descriptions, I would be lost.
This was one book that was fast but was actually slow because such whirlwind writing would leave any reader reading it slowly. Ya know, confusion of the mind tends to do that.
The style of writing - The Prose
I would put the author’s style of writing to be too new, too inexperienced. It was obvious the author had a lot of love for her characters, but ultimately it didn’t get delivered in the prose.
I often wanted authors to have more dialogues than narrations, but oh boy… This was one book where I felt I needed pages of narration to understand who was whose family and who had abandoned whom when all the members seemed to be accounted for. OMG. They were floating heads. And many characters came for a scene and had no background explanation about who they were to the main character or how their bond had come to be.
The story was sweet, with many heart-wrenching scenes, where I could read them as a tale, but not really be touched by them. But there were a lot of issues that were crammed in the prose. Too many, I would say. And none received the complete treatment in the prose as I would have liked to see. I would have liked to read more in detail about how the characters dealt with the downs that fate had thrust upon them.
Maybe in the next book or after editing this book, the author would have a compelling voice. And nope, I cannot read this book again. It would leave me confused even in the second round.
How it made me feel
I felt the book had everything going for it, but the scenes were not placed in a synchronized manner next to each other so that it felt that the story flowed.
With no emotions in the words, I couldn’t cry or laugh with the main characters. They were just words mentioned on paper.
The author did try in the second half, but kept herself and thereby the characters too guarded to really explore how emotions could be engraved on paper. Maybe being the debut, the experience was too less. Authors should read more books of the genre they were writing to understand how to bring tears or laughter to the readers’ faces.
I liked the attempt that this book was, but I was left very unsatisfied. I felt bad that I didn’t like the book because the author’s afterwords were touching. I wished she had poured all her care into the lines of the prose. Then the emotions would have come through.
Do I recommend this book?
I wouldn’t recommend buying the book, of course. Not worth the money. But if you had a kindle unlimited subscription, there was no harm in giving it a try. But go into the book, after reading this review and having zero expectations.
Also, kindle formatting was pathetic with different sizes of font. When the font went micro-small, I didn’t bother to strain my eyes.
I downloaded the digital version of the book from an online retail, and this is my journey down its pages, straight from the heart. STRICTLY HONEST and UNBIASED.
If you’ve loved the review and want me get over the confusion of reading this book, buy me a cuppa to perk me up.
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Dang. Another bust. And isn’t it unusual for the Kindle font to be wonky like that?