All That's Bright and Gone

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 26 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

"All That's Bright and Gone" is a much needed story. The title and description was very captivating, and after reading the story I think the title is absolutely beautiful.

What's unique about this story is that it portrays our mental health views through the eyes of a six year old named Aoife. 

Although the description offers Aoife's mother to be confused, there is a significant confusion in Aoife herself and she is determined to find some answers. 

I adored the innocent thoughts Aoife had whilst navigating the confusion. The plot had an engaging manner, and the turn of events and the realisation that young children can sometimes be greatly impacted by experiences we think they forget was a unique one.

I would definitely encourage others to read this story. 

Thanking NetGalley and Eliza Nellums for a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a free e-copy of All That's Bright and Gone by Eliza Nellums from NetGalley for my honest review.

A surprisingly good book told from the point-of-view of a six year old girl, Aoife.  

Aoife is trying to understand what is happening with her mother.  Her mom is in the hospital after an episode she had so she can get better.  Aoife's Uncle decides that he will take care of her, since her mom can't, so she doesn't have to be put in the foster system.  

When her uncle comes to her home to take car of her he is disgusted by the conditions of the house. Also, Aoife has a friend (a teddy bear) that no one else can see.  Aoife also has a brother who is deceased but sometimes her mom gets confused and talks about him like he is alive. Things get worse and Aoife wants her mom to come home.  She decided that the only way she thinks her mom will come home is if she figures out who killed her brother. 

And so the Aoife's search for the truth begins.  Please be aware that there are conversations of abuse and mental illness in this book.
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What’s the deal with cover designs featuring night skies and stars lately? 

To be fair, the cover of "All That’s Bright and Gone" actually has fireworks on it, and it does tie into the plot. But still. It’s so generic compared to what’s within, which is a rollercoaster ride of mystery, told from the perspective of 6-year-old Aoife.

Aoife knows her brother is gone, and I guess she knows he’s been murdered because Hannah from next door told her so, and she’s always playing detective (plus, she’s eight). Mama knows Theo is gone too, but sometimes, like now, she gets confused. It’s up to Aoife to figure out who killed Theo and make things right so Mama can come home. The only problem is, no one wants to talk about him. Lucky for Aoife she has Teddy, her friend (and bear), to help her figure things out. Even if all the grown-ups say he’s imaginary, Aoife knows he’s real.

All I had to hear about this story was '6-year-old narrator' and 'imaginary friend' and I requested it immediately. Then I settled in for some twisted and possibly very strange stuff. 

It sure was delivered.

What’s fantastic about this book is the way the narration allows us as readers to get both sides of the story; we understand more than Aoife about what the grown-ups are telling her, getting all the hints at what they don’t want to say, but also Aoife’s thinking, her memories, and what she sees when the adults aren’t watching. It always seems like we, as readers, are getting the most information, and so we’re always on the verge of discovery, always on the edge of figuring out what happened. 

And yet…we’re not. 

This, mixed with the perfect pacing and the natural tension caused by wondering what the heck happened to Theo, drives this story forward, making it an absolute page-turner. I couldn’t put it down. I raced toward the reveal, that moment in a book like this that can either make or break the rest of the story.

And then, when we finally do figure out what happened, it was nothing I expected. 

It’s a rare and beautiful (yet highly sought-after) moment in mystery novels where the reveal is actually, well, a reveal, and not something we saw coming, but also makes total sense. Where suddenly all the clues become so clear, so much so that you want to start back from the beginning and see all the genius foreshadowing that I couldn’t piece together before. 

This book had one of those moments. 

I also admired how mental health was addressed here. Mysteries and thrillers often incorporate mental illness as an explanation or a plot device. I’ve read too many stories where trauma is caused to someone (often a young and innocent character) by a person (often a mother) who has an out-of-control mental health health issue. These characters are too commonly portrayed as being one and the same as their disease, and vilified. Their terrible actions are blamed on their poor mental health and lack of treatment, end of story. 

If you think about it for a moment, I’m sure you’ll be able to think of at least one example.

But here, we see characters struggling with mental illness (which is never specifically categorized, an aspect I liked) but portrayed, still, as people who have their good days and their bad days; who are doing their best to cope with something that is trying to take over and ruin their life and don’t always have the means or funds to stave it off. Characters with mental illness here are misunderstood by others (as is, unfortunately, realistic) and could have easily been made into villains, but were not. And I applaud that. 

Next, maybe we can have a mystery that…doesn’t need mental illness as an explanation for events?? 

No? Ok. 

…Maybe in a century or so.

There is also a magical realism element to this story that some readers may not like but that I really enjoyed. It’s not clear going in to the story that it will be included, but I loved that it allowed some things to be left in question, open-ended, while everything else was coming to a close and being solved. I thought it also worked really well with the fact that Aoife is a 6-year-old girl with a wild imagination. I think it will definitely be a great source of discussion amongst readers (book-clubs rejoice).

My only true complaint was that I found the inclusion of the letters somewhat confusing. They came in a bit too late in my opinion, and so were somewhat jarring. I wasn’t sure at first whether they were from past, present, or future. I can see why they were included, but also think that a majority of the information in them was unnecessary. I like the idea but think it would have been better to incorporate them more throughout so that they felt more cohesive with Aoife’s chapters. 

I rated "All That’s Bright and Gone"  4.75 out of 5 stars. I would highly recommend it, especially to those who enjoyed the narrative style of "Room."
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It is a good thing I've met both a Siobhan and an Aoife in the last few years or I don't think I'd've gotten far with this one. ;)

Summary: six-year-old Aoife's mother is hospitalized after a bit of a breakdown and in the days that follow Aoife tasks herself with uncovering her family's tragic secrets. 

Aoife is a charming narrator, and I think I mostly found her believable as six. Though there are absolutely a few times that that narrative voice slips older... which takes you out a bit. 

Here's the thing though, and maybe this is just me... But, much of the drama and trauma of this book is the result of people keeping secrets from each other and just, not saying things. And, maybe this would be more believable to parents, but for this reader, I just kept thinking, 'maybe just find a gentle way to talk about this... Oh, no? We're just gonna shoot it down again? Coolcoolcool. gee, what a wonderful way to traumatize your child.' No, no one enjoys confronting ugly truths, but still if anyone in this family ever just talked to eachother about their mental health much of the bad stuff in the book wouldn't have had to happen. 

Bonus points for the beautiful use of the imaginary friend, also for the use of religion from the perspective of a kid. Maybe less points for never answering many of the questions about what the mental health issues are in this family. Also for the glowing hallway... that was just weird. 

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the arc to review.
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I liked the cover it looks good. I liked the well made descriptions of scenery and characters, the style of the book is great and its very good to read,.
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My feedback here is late to the party.  I enjoyed this book, but it was relatively forgettable.  I'd recommend it to others as a quick read.
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Thank you Netgalley for the advance reader's copy in exchange for my opinion/review. 
I really enjoyed this book. It's written from a child's point of view, and yes, us adults can be confusing. Family dynamics and struggles strengthen the families bond. The author really did great with a complex family, and tramatic events. Great read.
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A tender story written from the point of view of six-year-old Aoife (Ee-Fah). Aoife’s mother is sick and her Uncle Donny comes to stay with her.  She knows her mother’s illness has something to do with her brother Theo’s death. But no one will talk to her about Theo because Aoife is too young to understand they tell her. Aoife, with the help of her imaginary friend, must solve the mystery on her own. 

This debut novel is certainly worth a read. It brought me back to my childhood and reminded me that adults really have no idea what children are thinking. That sometimes not finding ways to to talk about the “difficult” things can cause more anxiety to young children.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for loaning this eARC.
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Eliza Nellums debut novel 'All That's Bright and Gone' is an unforgettable read. We are thrust into Aoife's world, a six-year-old girl who is searching for the truth around her brother whilst her mum is taken away to battle her own demons. We experience her grief and optimism as we go on this journey of discovery. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I couldn't put it down!
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Sweet Aoife. I loved this story and the fact that it was told from the perspective of a 6 year old gave it more charm. This book is sad to read but it is beautiful. Aoife tries to search for the truth surrounding the death of her big brother. She gets the run around that all adults normally give her "we will talk about it later" "soon" "maybe"  all things that we adults are guilty of saying to children when we are pushing something off. Aoife is smarter than the adults around her give her credit for. I have s full review of this book on my blog at I give this story 5 stars
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I know my brother is dead. But sometimes Mama gets confused.

This is a coming of age story that is more down to earth than many you will have read before now. Engaging, impressive and heart-wrenching - told through the eyes of a precocious and utterly charming six year old.

This story is narrated by six-year old Aoife who is trying to solve the mystery of her brother, Theo's, death along with work out exactly why her Mama has been taken away from her and put in hospital. Aoife is accompanied by her imaginary friend (Teddy) and at times, her neighbourhood friend, Hannah. Whilst Mama is in hospital, Aoife is in the care of Uncle Donny (Mama's Brother) - who helps her try and piece her life back together.

Aoife is an interesting character. She's bright and curious - her level of intellect fluctuates between that of her true six years of age and that of someone much older. We're regularly reminded of her innocence... Aoife believes that in order to bring Mama home she needs to get to the bottom of the mystery of Theo's death. She also believes that she was found in a cabbage patch and has no father. It's these kind of moments that bring you up short to remember exactly Aoife's vulnerabilities.

“Sometimes when grown-ups ask if you can do something, they are really just telling you to do it.”

This book is written carefully and with excellent style. Throughout the book Aofie is the narrator, not really fully understanding what's going on. But it's written so well that as the reader we are able to interpret the adult goings on and read between the lines.

Aoife is steadfast in her belief that in order for Mama to come home, she needs to get to the bottom of the mystery of Theo’s death. And so, her desperation to find out the truth has her making potentially dangerous decisions.

It's a beautiful book - made even more magical by the fact that it's a debut novel.
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At the beginning of this book I thought I would enjoy it so much that I would read it quickly but I struggled.
It seemed to get more strange as time went on.
This is MY honest opinion on the book, please give it a go if you like the blurb.
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It’s unusual for a protagonist and narrator to be 6 years old but that’s what makes All That’s Bright and Gone so special. It’s fascinating to see the world through the eyes of a young child and be privy to her thoughts. We get to see how a child interprets a sentence/thought literally, which is not always correct. For instance, Aoife’s Mama tells her that her Uncle Donny has a silver tongue but Aoife says she saw it and it’s pink. When her neighbor is able to watch Aoife while her Uncle Donny is away, he calls them lifesavers and Aoife notes that it’s a candy. Eliza Nellums does an amazing job capturing a child’s voice and thought process.

Aoife has a very special imaginary friend named Teddy and guess what, he is a bear and he is able to change his size. For example, when they are at the park, Aoife says he shrinks to his smallest bear size which is the same height as her and they play together. Aoife sends Teddy downstairs to check for intruders because he can make himself bigger than they are and eat them. And if she is ever confused about something, Teddy is able to clear I it up for her. Essentially, Teddy is her constant companion — he is her best friend, protector and adviser.

The reader gets to know Aoife very well and cannot help but feel for her as well as root for her. She is innocent and adorable, often saying things that will make the reader smile. For example, Aoife admits to trying to be a big girl at the hospital but would rather go home to see her stuffed animals. Also, she says that God makes people different colors like a rainbow but doesn’t understand why no one is a fun color.

The first sentence of All That’s Bright and Gone pulled me in and piqued my curiosity. Aoife states that her brother is dead. This reader had to stay to find out more, like the When and Why for starters.

Aoife knows her Mama gets “confused” and that’s why she is in the hospital. She believes that if she can find her brother’s killer then her Mama can come home. Aoife enlists the help of her next door neighbor Hannah, who loves to play detective and solve mysteries. She learns all about finding clues, evidence, suspects, and material witnesses. 

This six year old girl understands more than her age would lead you to believe. She does a lot of growing up in the course of the story, learning about her Mama’s past, her father and what happened to her brother. All That’s Bright and Gone is a story about family, mental illness, love, secrets, and misunderstandings. Come along on Aoife’s adventure with her sidekick Teddy the bear and help her solve the mystery. You’ll be glad you did.

Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for an advance reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
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3 for neutral.  While I was very excited for this book, I just could not get into it.  I tried on a few occasions and never made it very far.  Will make sure I update it able to finish at a later date.
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While exploring “the secrets” that families keep from little children - this story from the child perspective lends a totally different view of coping with mental illness. Great read - very timely subject matter,
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This book is definitely something else and not what you expect but a great story nevertheless . 
Told in a point of view of a 6 years old little girl, we discover a lot of things happening and how she sees everything around her. Living with mental health illness around her and trying to understand what's happening is hard for an adult so imagine being a kid with big dreams and an imagination that knows no limits. 
It might break your heart at times, there are some questions that we get the answers but also there are others that are left opened up for the reader to review them and that in my opinion is a great story overall and the author has done a great job of it.
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I liked that the story was told from a child's POV, as I don't commonly see that. However, some things were a bit confusing because of that. My electronic copy was challenging to read. I'm used to reading unedited stories, but the formatting was very strange, with odd spacing, words missing, and sentences being cut off. It caused me to be a bit of jumping around to avoid it. The snippets throughout the book from Aoife's mom to different people were helpful in providing additional info to aide in the reader's understanding, but they didn't do much to advance the overall plot. I found many parts to be predictable and/or boring, adding to my struggle to finish the book. I'm not sure I would really recommend it.
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This book took me a while to get into, although I was initially very excited to read it. I had a weird problem with it-- I ended up getting two books at the same time that have very identical covers, so I kept getting the two books mixed up. FYI, "The Forest Meets the Stars" also has a beautiful cover ;)
I enjoy the unreliable narrator of Aoife, a 6-year-old girl that has an... interesting family. I've never read this point of view before. It was refreshing, sad, and quirky. I have a four year old, so I can't quite relate-- but I think that the author captured the innocence, frustration, and confusion of a young child trying to understand adult concepts.
There is a LOT going on in this book. By the end of the book, most everything is resolved. At the same time, I have so many questions. Was there actually a supernatural aspect of this book? To what extent was mom 'confused?' I guess the author leaves this open-ended for discussions, but I personally would have preferred some more concrete answers. At the same time, I understand that with a 6-year old narrator, those kinds of things probably don't get a resolution until she can understand more later in life.
Four stars because this was an overall satisfying read. I'd recommend it to the general fiction crowd. It's well-written and memorable.
Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This was such a sweet and intriguing story.  I fell in love with Aoife and her voice in this story instantly.  Nellums did an excellent job of writing the voice of a 6 year old who is really only able to interpret the world the way that it's explained to her.  I loved Aoife's perspective as she navigates her mother's hospitalization, and the other members of her inner circle as they step in to care for her.  This story had some perfectly timed reveals and just enough suspense to keep me 100% hooked.  A fantastic first novel from Eliza Nellums!
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As a parent I had a really hard time reading this book. It absolutely broke my heart to read about this poor little girl and the mental illness that was surrounding her family. I did enjoy the writing and the story line. It did not end how I had expected. I would defined recommend to someone that does not have children
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