FeaturedContemporary Fiction

Everything I Am

By

Worth reading 😎

With a twist that this reader didn't see coming, Everything That I Am is a multilayered look at grief and loss.

Everything That I Am opens with Rebecca Collins sitting in a therapy session, talking about her beloved brother, Luke, and struggling to come to terms with the loss of her husband, Joe, a renowned Irish poet and a dissident. Rebecca and Joe had what one might call a May-December romance, Rebecca being 15 years Joe’s junior. Though never married, they have been devoted to each other for 28 years. Rebecca’s view of their relationship is shattered when a mysterious woman shows up at Joe’s funeral in London and sets her on a journey of discovery. 


In her grief over Joe’s death, Rebecca’s memories of her brother float to the surface. Through a series of flashbacks and therapy sessions, we learn that Rebecca and Luke had an affectionate bond that slowly dissipated after Rebecca broke her back in a surfing accident. They slowly grow apart, Rebecca’s fear of the ocean disrupting their shared love for surfing. 


There are quite a few relationships to suss through in this book, and as a result, the relationships that feel like they ought to be significant don’t get their due. I’m not sure why we needed to know all that we learned about the therapist, and there seems to be something missing in Heimo and Rebecca’s story. 


Loss, grief and guilt are the concurrent motifs  in this novel, which takes place between London and Geneva, though this reader found herself confused at times by the chronology of events. Without place and time markers to orient the reader, the lack of logic was distracting. Much of the story is told in flashback, which consist of pages and pages in italics. Adding the flashbacks as their own chapters in normal font would have been a more effective storytelling device. Overall, I enjoyed the author’s writing and found the story compelling enough to hold my attention, and the big reveal towards the end certainly threw me for a uncomfortable loop, though the story ends on a redemptive note.


Reviewed by

I am an avid reader and casual Bookstagrammer. I used to write book reviews on a personal blog and have shifted my reviews to my Instagram account. As a publishing assistant with a background in teaching, I read books with both a critical eye and an understanding of what makes a book work.

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About the author

I’m an author of contemporary fiction, historical fiction and non-fiction. My books have been published via Hachette Australia, Random House Australia, Penguin US and DuMont Buchverlag in Germany. I am now spreading my wings into the world of independent publishing. view profile

Published on May 24, 2021

Published by

90000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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