All Things Different, by Shawn Underhill

Emily Rachelle Reviews, by Emily

Jake’s dad let Sara into their lives; he never expected her to come so deeply into their hearts.

It’s a rare thing for an author to contact me personally and directly to request a book review; when it does happen, I always want to say yes and love the book. With such a beautiful cover, how could I go wrong?

Then I started reading. I’m not saying it’s a horrible book – not at all. I struggled through the whole thing with how I would review it, how many stars to give it, and the like. When I started, the book was wordy, weighted down, and packed with excess description – so much so that I completely skipped several pages and barely skimmed others, without it affecting the story at all. This got better, but not much, as the story progressed. I think the author was going for a more literary feel and just went overboard.

Still, I wanted to love this book. At the start that was nearly impossible; I’ve already mentioned the writing, but the characters grated too. Jake was a pessimistic brat and a jerk, while Sara was so bubbly and jumpy that it was unrealistic. However, when the two of them started to get along, the book became a lot better. There were still several times I almost put the book down, and the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I hate reviewing a book I haven’t finished. This was mostly in the first half of the book, especially the first few chapters. There were other times I had to stop reading and was dying to go back and continue; this became my constant feeling during the last few chapters.

(I will mention that I *loved* the relationship between Jake and Sara, except for Sara’s excessive use of “shut up” — but then I have friends who annoy me with that phrase too.)

The factor of whether or not this is a clean read is confusing, too. The characters are flawed but good people, and very realistic after those strange first impressions. Sara has a dark secret, but it’s not one of her own doing, and it’s actually very noble of the author to deal with such a touchy subject in literature. Overall I think he does a great job of it, and keeps the characters’ thoughts and actions true to life. But after several great pages, a scene will have foul language – one scene in particular is just loaded. I can understand its use in some places and wonder why it’s there in others; regardless, my stance is that you can write that a character cussed without actually spelling out the word, keeping it both clean and realistic. There was one other ‘clean’ factor that bothered me, but I won’t say it for spoilers. It’s more of a Christian ‘clean read’ problem than a general culture or target audience ‘clean read’ problem, and it’s actually the same one problem AnnaKate and I found in the Hunger Games. (Eerily similar, really, since the problem was created for the same reason.)

All that to say that All Things Differentis a good attempt at writing a serious, literary YA work that deals with love and life, but for me fell through due to overuse of descriptions and some general Christian reader problems. I enjoyed reading it, especially the last few chapters (which I honestly loved), but I wouldn’t recommend it to many readers I know. Therefore I give it 2.5 stars.

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Emily Rachelle is a homeschooled junior in love with Jesus and the world of words. You can read more book reviews, as well as poetry, opinions, and everyday chatter at her blog, “Emily Rachelle Writes” at

Updated: February 1, 2013 — 5:00 pm

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