A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney- Feature and Review


A stunning debut novel about a teenage girl and her mother as they grapple with first love, family secrets, and tragedy.

Maddy is sixteen. Smart, funny, and profound, she has loyal friends, a mother with whom she’s unusually close, a father she’s never met, devoted grandparents, and a crush on a boy named Jack. Maddy also has cancer. Living in the shadow of uncertainty, she is forced to grow up fast.

All the Water in the World is the story of a family doing its best when faced with the worst. Told in the alternating voices of Maddy and her mother, Eve, the narrative moves between the family’s lake house in Pennsylvania; their home in Washington, DC; and London, where Maddy’s father, Antonio, lives. Hungry for experience, Maddy seeks out her first romantic relationship, finds solace in music and art, and tracks down Antonio. She continually tests the depths and limits of her closeness with her mother, while Eve has to come to terms with the daughter she only partly knows, in a world she can’t control.

With unforgettable voices that range from tender to funny, despairing to defiant, this novel illuminates the transformative power of love, humor, and hope.



All the Water in the WorldAll the Water in the World by Karen Raney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

All the Water in the World by Karen Raney is a 2019 Scribner publication.

Heart-rending, but eloquent, study of mother/daughter relationships

Maddie, only sixteen years old has been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother, Eve, raised her alone after her father announced he didn’t want children…. Well, not with Eve, at any rate. At her grandfather’s suggestion, Maddie decides to reach out to her father, Antonio, earlier than she had intended, and the two begin a secretive email correspondence. Meanwhile, Maddie does what most sixteen -year old girls do- gossip with her friends, fall in love, and test and probe the mysterious depths of her relationship with Eve.

Meanwhile, Eve relates her struggles with Maddie’s illness, as we glimpse the circle of support the two receive from Eve’s parents, her partner, Robin, Maddie’s friends and her boyfriend, Jack. Yet, Maddie’s contact with Antonio will have an impact she never could have anticipated- not necessarily for her, but for Eve.

The story uses the alternate narrative format, giving Maddie and Eve a chance to tell their story from their own unique perspectives. Maddie’s voice is clear, her courage unshakable, as she takes as much control over her life as she is able.

Her cancer diagnosis is at the center of the choices she makes, some of which are questionable, but understandable. The same can be said of Eve, who also makes choices she might not have if circumstances were different. I didn’t agree with Maddie or Eve when it came to their decision making skills sometimes, but while it is so very easy to judge, or to get on one’s preachy little soapbox, one never knows how they might respond if they were living within this set of circumstances.

The story is full of tender, but potent moments, often laced with humor, and is more than a little bittersweet. Life throws us unfair curve balls and as Maddie and Eve discover, the only thing we can do is give it our best effort, grab the moments we have and make the best of them.

This story embodies all the various parts of life and living- family and friends, love, pain, mistakes, grief, and forgiveness. This a beautifully written, thought provoking story that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Overall, this is an impressive debut novel by Karen Raney!






Karen Raney recently gained an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a distinction and was awarded the 2017 Pat Kavanagh Prize for All the Water in the World when the novel was still a work in progress. Born in Schenectady, New York, Raney attended Oberlin College, graduated from Duke University, and worked as a nurse before moving to London to study art. She lives in London with her husband and daughter, and teaches at the University of East London.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.