‘Check Mates’ - shortlisted for this year’s Moving On Category- is a fabulous read so we thought it was about time we looked at another of Stewart Foster’s books, ‘All the Things that Could Go Wrong’.
Alex has OCD. His worries control his life and he worries what will happen if he tells his mum just how bad his worries have become, particularly about the bullying at school. Dan is one of the bullies. He’s angry and misses his brother, Ben, and Alex makes an easy target. When the boys’ mothers arrange for them to spend time together finishing the raft Dan started with Ben, each is horrified at the prospect. But as time passes, things change between them. Could they possibly become friends?
Deeply moving and compelling, ‘All the Things that Could Go Wrong’ is a fascinating read. Stewart Foster has very cleverly created well developed characters in both bully and bullied, allowing the reader to both despise Dan for his treatment of Alex (and others) and yet feel sympathy for his loneliness and anger at the absence of his brother. This is not a story about simply taking sides.
Alex’s OCD is really well handled; the condition does not define him as a person, although, sadly, it controls much of what he can do. He has many interests, has a great sense of humour and is a kind, caring boy. His relationships with family members are beautifully drawn- his father’s thinly veiled frustration and lack of understanding, his mother’s endless patience and concern and his little sister’s vividly contrasting ‘normality’ all help the reader to understand how Alex’s OCD affects every moment of his life.
Dan is also many layered. The bully is there for all to see and there is nothing in the narration which tries to excuse him for his behaviour towards his victims. Yet, the story allows us to see how unhappy and lost he feels without his brother, the shocked realisation of the severity of his brother’s situation and gives a sense of his feeling trapped within his ‘gang’. In the end, he manages to redeem himself, although in his case, you feel it’s more a case of the real Dan returning!
Stewart Foster creates fantastic characters, constantly challenges his readers and tackles ‘difficult’ subjects with ease. ‘All the Things that Could Go Wrong’ is an amazing book which, although painful to read in places, is ultimately uplifting and satisfying.
All the Things that Could Go Wrong Stewart Foster
Simon and Schuster ISBN: 978- 1471145421