All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

good thingsTwenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good?


I was expecting something different when I decided to get a copy of All the Good Things by Clare Fisher. Needless to say, this ended up being quite a surprise. I am not saying that it was bad; it was just different from what I would normally go for.

This is the story of Bethany who is currently incarcerated. However, this isn’t a story about life in prison. Instead, Beth has a counselor who challenged her to write down the story of her life and the god things that happened before the bad thing that got her arrested.

Beth tells different stories from her time in school to her first job and then motherhood. She has a lot of struggles that became clear from the first story. I can’t talk much about this without spoiling the book. However, her stories made me smile although most were really sad. Others were quite relatable like her first job at Odeon. This reminded me of my  first job at a clothing store next to the 20th Century cinema in Nairobi.

This is a quiet book. There are no shocking revelations, twists or drama. However, the writing and the pacing fits the story. Nevertheless, there was a little tension as I was curious about the bad thing that Beth did. I wanted to know why she was in prison and I was also tempted to just skip to the end and find out. I didn’t do that. Instead, I walked the journey with Beth and found out why she did what she did. This made it easy to sympathize with her and understand her character.

The story is narrated through Beth’s PoV. Each chapter has a title. For example, ‘Flirting on Orange Wednesday’, ‘falling asleep with your legs tangled up with someone else’s…’ The titles make sense when you read the chapter. In addition, the chapters begin with Beth’s current life and then go back to an event in her past. I think that the structure worked out perfectly for the book.

Beth’s story is about self-discovery. It allows readers to also get to know her. I don’t think that I would have felt the way I did about her given the nature of her crime. However, understanding her made it easier to sympathize with her. This book is thought-provoking. Beth’s journey made me think about my own life. It also made me think about people serving time and how easy it is to judge them without knowing their story.  In the end, this was a deeply, moving story that I enjoyed reading.

18 thoughts on “All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

  1. I love how this book is structured! I think this is a read I will enjoy. Will try and get a hold of this. 😊

  2. This does sound really good, I like a novel where you get to know the main character and see where they are coming from. It would be interesting to see how someone’s life could be so messed up that it actually leads to this…

    1. I thought so too. I like how the author did that. If we had been told the bad thing before the good things then perhaps it would have been hard to sympathize with her. However, getting to know her before knowing about the bad thing changed everything 🙂

  3. Sometimes I also get something very different from what I was expecting, and it makes it harder for me to express my feelings as I feel a bit confused, even if different doesn’t mean bad. I’m thinking this wound be awesome as an audiobook as it’s a quite book, and that’s how I like to discover those ones 🙂 Great review!

    1. Interesting, confusion is what I am felling now after reading another book, The Breakdown by B. A Paris. It was different from what I expected and now I can’t even seem to put my thoughts together and get the review done lol.

      I have never listened to an audio-book but I think you are right. The narration and structure made reading the book feel like listening to Beth talking about her memories so yeah that would work 🙂

  4. Wonderful review! I’m glad you were able to connect to Beth better than I was able to… I agree she is a fascinating character and I really liked the structure of the story.

  5. I like the idea of this book. It’s crazy how learning someone’s past can make you understand their decisions and invoke sympathy. It’s probably not a book I’ll end up reading, but you make me want to!

    1. Yeah,her crime was terrible and if the author mentioned that at the start then I would have judged theMC but getting to know her first definitely changed my perception about what she did 🙂

  6. Hadn’t even looked at this one but it seems super interesting, the idea is original and I like stories about prison (even if this is not like Orange :P)

    1. This was different since most of it was about life before prison.There were a few sections about the prison though and a library 😉 It was a different but good read.

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