All Eyes on Her – Laurie Elizabeth Flynn – Imprint – Published 18 August 2020
You heard the story on the news. A girl and a boy went into the woods. The girl carried a picnic basket. The boy wore bright yellow running shoes. The girl found her way out, but the boy never did….
Everyone thinks they know what happened. Some say Tabby pushed him off that cliff— she didn’t even like hiking. She was jealous. She had more than her share of demons. Others think he fell accidentally—she loved Mark. She would never hurt him…even if he hurt her.
But what’s the real story? All Eyes On Her is told from everyone but Tabby herself as the people in her life string together the events that led Tabby to that cliff. Her best friend. Her sister. Her enemy. Her ex-boyfriend. Because everybody thinks they know a girl better than she knows herself.
If you like gritty, edgy novels about sex, the teenage party scene and a little bit of murder (maybe?) you’ll love All Eyes On Her.
Tabitha went into the woods for a hike with her boyfriend, Mark. Tabby made it out alive. Mark didn’t. Everyone thinks they know what happened. Everyone thinks they know what kind of girl Tabby is and they fondly remember Mark. But what really happened that day?
I would be amiss in not first discussing the writing style and layout of the book. Each section is written from the perspective of many different characters, main and side characters. All except Tabby and Mark themselves. This works perfectly for emphasising the message of perspective, assumptions, labels and making up your own mind about what happened and why, but also being aware of the things that impact this decision. Honestly, it would make a perfect book for group discussion. While the ending does provide some closure, which I was happy about, because if it was an open ending I was going to be be mega cross! But there is room for doubt. The author at no point gives a final retelling, or she does but you still have to decide what you believe. You have all the stories and truths and lies to wade through, so it would be perfect for getting a group to decide themselves and argue about why they think that.
Speaking of plot, the author does a superb job of piecing together the story, bringing in clues just when you need them. The middle section is a bit slow and repetitive, but a bombshell twist caught my attention again just in time.
As a teacher librarian who works every day with teenagers, it’s a little hard not to think the behaviour and attitudes are dialled up and overdone just a little bit in this novel. Sure, the party scene, use of alcohol and relationship drama is realistic for teenagers, but whether it is to this extent, frankly I don’t want to know. But it fits the darker, edgy tone of the book and works for the plot.
I must address content and trigger warnings here. This book has every sexual reference, innuendo and situation you could possible imagine, except a detailed sex scene. Everything else is fair game. It does serve a purpose in the story and brings to light the constant inequality between standards, expectations and labels for girls compared to the comments made about boys who engage in the same behaviour. SPOILER: I also need to include a trigger warning for abortion. You can find a more detailed reader advisory and content warning at the end of my review. This book is not something I will be giving to younger teen readers nor readers who want murder without sexual or crude content.
It actually hard to write this review without comparing it to the book I read prior to this one. They couldn’t be more different yet have a similar relationship theme crossover. While the other book was all about teenage true love, finding the ‘one’ and how perfect and lovely and amazing that is, All Eyes On Her is about the darker side of that passionate and all encompassing teenage relationships. He’s the one, she’s mine, we’re in love are terms used in both books, but in All Eyes On Her, it’s like a warning for teenage love gone bad, and how things can slip into dangerous, controlling, obsessive territory.
Compelling, it’s impossible not to spend the whole book desperate for find out who did it, and with a strong and clear message to challenge assumptions and societal gender rules that are horribly unequal, this is a mystery novel that will keep you guessing, long after the last page is turned.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Dating, relationships, sexual harassment, murder, detective, friendship, sisters, abusive relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 14/15 and up.
Advisory: References to sexual relationships, sexual comments, innuendo, references to oral and hand sex with details. References to abortion. Alcohol use to excess. Frequent strong coarse language f*** (48), sh** (64), sl** (7), pi** (17), di** (2), bi*** (17), as***** (18). Reference to violence, murder, death, injury.
Representation: Main characters are white. Relationships are heterosexual.
Published: 18 August 2020 by Imprint.
Format: Hardcover, ebook, audiobook. 384 pages.