Gail Shepherd's Reviews > All of Me

All of Me by Chris Baron
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it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary, debut19, middle-grade, poetry, diverse
Read 2 times. Last read January 1, 2019 to January 3, 2019.

It takes a lot to make crusty old me dissolve into a puddle of tears, but Chris Baron’s debut verse novel ALL OF ME had me pretty much bawling from page 100. This is the most moving MG novel I’ve read about how it feels to be a “big” kid on a very deep level. Beyond the taunting and bullying Ari experiences, Baron gets into Ari’s clothes, into his skin, describing precisely how it feels for a waist band to dig into flesh, the extreme vulnerability of wearing a bathing suit, a shirt hiked up to expose too much skin, and the hunger, hunger, hunger that never seems to let up. In Ari Rosenberg’s life, so much revolves around the ever-present diet book, the way people look at him when he takes that extra piece of pizza, and the self-hatred that makes Ari actually damage himself – and it’s all heartbreaking.

Although this is the story of a fat kid growing up, coming to terms with himself and making his way in the world, there’s much more going on: Ari’s artist mom and emotionally distant dad are divorcing; he’s negotiating the rituals for a bar mitzvah that may or may not happen; dealing with a crush on his best friend, Lisa, who has plenty of problems of her own; and making new friends during a California summer that is in many ways idyllic. There are deeply touching scenes with Ari’s rabbi, who is both gentle and wise.

The verse is deftly handled and gorgeous; it feels just right for Ari’s sensibility. I truly loved this book, I loved Ari Rosenberg, and I hope ALL OF ME will find its way into every school library and into the hands of many middle grade readers, not only so big kids can see themselves portrayed with such sensitivity and beauty, but so that all kids can experience what being big feels like and share Ari’s hopeful and triumphant story.

Note: ALL OF ME publishes in June, 2019. I read an Advance Readers Copy provided by the publisher.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 17, 2018 – Shelved
February 17, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
December 14, 2018 – Shelved as: contemporary
December 14, 2018 – Shelved as: debut19
December 14, 2018 – Shelved as: middle-grade
December 14, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry
January 1, 2019 – Started Reading
January 3, 2019 – Finished Reading
January 5, 2019 – Shelved as: diverse

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Naomi Milliner Wow! What a gorgeous review. Now I want to read it even more.

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