Review: All the Water in The World – Karen Raney

All the Water in The World tells of a family trying to come to terms with terrible tragedy: Maddy, only sixteen, has been diagnosed with cancer. These terrible circumstances expose the beautiful and complex bond between a mother and her daughter.

The story is told in alternating chapters between Maddy and her mother Eve. What jumps out of the pages of this book most of all is the character of Maddy. At this young age, she has to face the toughest of circumstances, and does so with such maturity, defiance and honesty. She is full of curiosity and is very emotionally intelligent – I think lots of readers will fall in love with Maddy and the way that she sees the world.

There is a raw and painful truth ringing through Eve’s chapters. She is consumed by what has happened to Maddy, and is forced to confront everything about and within herself to come to terms with it. While I found a lot contained within Eve’s pages, the way they made me think and feel was completely different to Maddy’s chapters. In some ways I suppose that was sort of the whole point, but it made it feel in a lot of ways like I was reading two different books. It felt a little bit disjointed and I mainly wanted to keep reading through Eve’s chapters just to get back to Maddy’s! Their relationship is still beautifully presented, nonetheless. We see that beautiful tension between their closeness and love for each other, and the unavoidable distance that comes from our individual and distinct existences.

There were some interesting themes weaving their way through the book. Water appears frequently throughout and the family are drawn to it – they own a house by a lake, and love to visit Fallingwater (a house built over a waterfall by architect Frank Lloyd Wright – take a look at the pics here!). Raney’s descriptions of water are very poetic; it takes on chameleon-like qualities: sometime serene and inviting; sometimes lonely and dark; and ultimately extremely powerful and all consuming.

I also found the significance of climate change, and Maddy’s involvement in climate action protests very thought provoking – even when facing her own mortality in a more direct way, Maddy wants to join the fight to protect the planet. It’s a poignant commentary on enacting change where we can, as there is so much around that is, in contrast, completely out of our control.

All the Water in the World publishes with Two Roads on the 23rd Jan. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me an electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Sophie @Sophie_Jo_Books  πŸ“šπŸΎ