"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." Albert Einstein

27 August 2018

All the Things That Could Go Wrong

Foster, Stewart. All the Things that Could Go Wrong. Little, Brown BYR 2018.

Alex has OCD which is seriously affecting his ability to do his schoolwork and interact with his classmates. Dan's older brother has been incarcerated, and Dan's so angry about this that he attacks and bullies Alex. The two boys are forced to spend time together when their moms, who are friends, decide they could each use a friend.

Let's start with the characters before moving into a traditional review. Alex has OCD, but he is not on any medication or seeing a therapist with any regularity. His parents worry about the expense of a therapist, which is understandable, but Alex's OCD is problematic, causing him to be frequently late for school and damaging his hands and his school supplies from multiple washings. It also appears that his teachers are indifferent or ignorant of his condition.

Dan is set up as a secondary protagonist, and the reader is supposed to sympathize with him because his older brother is in juvenile detention for stealing a car and robbing a store. Dan bullies Alex because Dan hangs out with bullies at school, bullies who aren't really friends to him, either. While Dan is a fully fleshed-out character in this story, the other bullies - the Georges and Sophia - are just random evil flat characters.

The whole point of this book is clearly to make a person feel empathy for a bully and to understand that bullies have back stories and things going on in their lives that cause them to bully. However, the worst of the lot - Sophia - is not given a story. All we ever see her do is instigate trouble with Dan, with Alex, and with others.

All in all, this is an easy enough story to read, although I think that since Alex's OCD was diagnosed it would have been more realistic for him to have some more support for it, and the story's very didactic feel may turn off the very readers it was intended for. The two main characters are well-rounded, but all of the rest fade into the background, which only adds to the didactic feel of this story.

Recommended for: middle grade
Red Flags: lots of bullying - Alex has his head stuck in a toilet, for example, which is horrifying for a neurotypical person but traumatic for a person with OCD
Overall Rating: 3/5 stars

Read Instead: You Go First, The Losers Club, Absolutely Almost

I received a complimentary copy of this book through Netgalley for the purpose of review.

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