I would like to start this by saying that I do not regard this as a review as such, mainly because I started reading this book months ago and have been dipping in and out of it ever since which means I made no notes on it. In fact, I never planned to write about it until I was close to the end and felt that I wanted to share some of my thoughts. So I regard this as more of me sharing a few of my thoughts in a more informal manner.
Firstly, I really like Carrie Hope Fletcher and regard her as a great role model and someone I look up to. Therefore, I think I am someone who is more likely to enjoy this book, but that is not to say that people who have never heard of Carrie will not like it. In fact, I think after reading this book some people will be more likely to watch some of Carrie’s YouTube videos, read more of her work or even see her in a show. Her popular YouTube channel, itswaypastmybedtime, is where the idea for this book originated. Not only that, but it is full of videos exploring more of Carrie’s life: her opinions, experiences, updates on her life, behind the scenes of musicals and other events, covers and original songs, and so much more.
All I Know Now is Carrie’s first novel and is classed as non-fiction. The primary idea is that Carrie shares her own experiences and what she has learned so far in her life whilst giving advice to her reader on how to handle situations. She covers many topics, from apologies to bullies to falling in love. I personally feel that all of the topics are well selected and useful, especially for the teenage/young adult audience that the book is aimed at. However, on the subject of the target audience, I read a comment online where someone said that they felt this book is better suited to the younger part of the audience because otherwise you have already experienced many of the things in the book and have probably made some mistakes (which is perfectly okay), so the book is not as useful. But after some thought, although I do agree, I also disagree because there were also situations I had not experienced. Even those that I had, I enjoyed reading Carrie’s thoughts and comparing them to mine, and found that her advice was useful and could help me if I were ever in one of those situations again.
Another comment that I saw online was from someone who has obviously been a Hopeful (one of Carrie’s followers) for a long time. She said that the book was too similar to Carrie’s videos so she knew a lot of the content already. I have not watched all of Carrie’s videos, but I have watched a couple which have held the same content as the book so I can understand this comment. However, the idea of the book is that it is like Carrie’s videos in a book form to engage a wider audience and share more of Carrie’s words of wisdom. Carrie is often called an ‘honorary big sister’ as she gives plenty of solid advice and is a great role model for many. I think that this is largely because she is just so ‘real’. She is not afraid to say what she thinks, to share her real-life experiences and to admit that she is not perfect and has made mistakes. Personally, I prefer the book format for advice because it makes it easier to dip in and out of and I know that the book is always there on my shelf should I want it. Honestly, I just love everything about books.
What strikes me most about the book is how much it reflects Carrie. The way she writes feels so personal and when I read the book it felt like Carrie was talking to me and she was giving me private advice and sharing her personal experiences with me. It felt good to know that someone I admire has been through many of the experiences I have and has made mistakes just like the rest of us. This book affirms that after everything, Carrie is a person just like you and I. Furthermore, as a Hopeful, I loved learning things I never knew about Carrie and the people around her. The first part of the book is a quiz that Carrie set about herself and asked some of her friends and family to fill in. Overall, the book is laid out like a musical, as musical theatre is one of Carrie’s passions and she has appeared on stage from a young age. Each section of the book is an act acting as a topic and within each act there are different chapters to explore that topic. For example, the first act is called ‘How to make friends without vomiting on their shoes…and other school stories’ and within that act there are chapters such as ‘firsts’, ‘making friends’ and ‘work versus play’. Following the theatre theme, there is a section at the back called ‘Props’. The idea of this is that Carrie gives a list of different issues that people might struggle with, such as mental health, and then lists the contact details for different organisations that people can go to about that issue. I think that this is such a fantastic idea in a novel like this. Young people need to feel like they have someone to turn to if they need help and would rather it was not someone they know.
The final thing I would like to add is that Carrie drew the illustrations for the book herself. I love her drawings as they are more cartoon-like and in this case, often emphasise the point she is trying to make. I think it makes the book feel even more personal to Carrie because it is all her own work and the bonus of drawing illustrations for your own writing is that you know exactly how you want the drawings to look and which points of the book they should highlight.
I think that this book is great for all kinds of people. I felt that as I thought about each issue Carrie raised, I began to explore my own opinions on each matter, but it was not a case of having to think about global issues that require a lot of thought, it was more about thinking about your own actions and how you would act in certain situations. What you are challenged to think about are issues that are on a smaller scale but are important to each individual and how you choose to live your own life. I think that this book will have a place on my bookshelf for a long time to come.
All I Know Now – Carrie Hope Fletcher, first published by Sphere in 2016, RRP £12.99, ISBN 978-0-7515-5751-0