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ALL THAT WAS by Karen Rivers


by Karen Rivers

Age Range: 14 - 18

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-374-30246-7
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Sloane’s grief over the murder of her best friend, Piper, is complicated by the rifts that had recently been developing in their friendship.

With coordinated looks, joint post-graduation plans, and a vow to never be separated by boy drama, Piper and Sloane are blonde, white, well-to-do high school seniors who epitomize best friendship. Dynamic Piper can be demanding, but Sloane mostly views these moments as simply the cost of their friendship. Until Piper suddenly snags Sloane’s longtime crush, Soup (painfully nicknamed by a teacher for being “a mix of every race anyone could even name”), as her boyfriend. Inwardly seething, Sloane sometimes almost hates Piper. Seemingly oblivious, Piper has sex with Soup and then determines that maintaining friendship synchronicity requires Sloane to also have sex. Sloane’s acceptance of the bizarre ultimatum leads to disaster. Saving the plot from sliding into melodrama is Sloane’s razor-sharp narration, which unsparingly reveals both her dependence on Piper and her growing awareness of Piper’s occasionally predatory nature. The resulting fascinating character study resists easy explanations of how the girls both adore and harm each other in nearly equal measures. And the layered plotting, in which key moments seem to spiral toward one another through the disjointed timeline, adds intriguing complexity. Issues of race and class arise, but the girls’ relationship remains the central conflict.

Emotionally dark and keenly observant, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars (2014). (Fiction. 14-18)