Kippa Picks: All Things Different by Shawn Underhill Book Review

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Late in the summer of 2005, starkly independent Jake Thornton was on the verge of turning 16, expecting little more than his driver’s license in the fall, and the continuance of the quiet life shared with his father. So when 14-almost-15 year old Sara moved in next door and began vying for his father’s attention, Jake wasn’t exactly thrilled, and couldn’t quite understand his father’s motives for allowing it. But certainly he never anticipated the dramatic shift their lives would take as a result. As the summer fades and autumn takes over, friendship between the two teenagers begins blossoming into a bond, until fate steps in once more, threatening to tear them apart as quickly as they’ve come together. The decisions that follow, and the emotive tale that results, opens Jake’s eyes to the simple yet life altering truth, a truth that Sara has understood all along: that love—not the feeling but the action—is the most powerful force in the world. -Amazon 

Review Copy Provided By The Author 

 All Things Different  by Shawn Underhill, is a novel that has surely taken me by surprise. I could never have predicted that I would be so emotionally connected to its characters, or that they would have experienced all that they did. All of these things came together for a fantastic reading experience.

All Things Different is the story of a sixteen year old named Jake, who's life with his father is knocked on its head when 14 going on 15 year old, Sara, moves in with her mom. Jake is, at first, challenged by Sara's presence, and how she has managed to sneak into his father's heart so quickly, but there is only a matter of time before she awakens his heart both to love and demons that no child should encounter.

I can't tell you how much this novel grabbed hold of my heart. Firstly, Shawn Underhill is a beautiful writer. The way he evokes Jake's relationships and how they grow through scenic descriptions of the land around him is beautiful. There were only some instances where I found passages to be overly descriptive, nevertheless, I have a weakness for beautiful description. This novel is told, mostly in Jake's POV, and it put me in mind of a host of iconic heroes like Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, who longed for the peace of a lone raft in a lake.

In terms of Jake and Sara's relationship, Underhill practically coins the notion that less is more. Observing Jake open his heart to Sarah over the course of the novel is delicate, realistic, and organic.
Sara is a lovey character to experience as well. She is lively, and girly, as any young woman of this age, but she also carries with her a haunting maturity because of her experiences. Underhill effectively depicts Sara's more hesitant, vulnerable side so believably. There were moments that were uncomfortable to read, as Sara reveals her fears to Jake, and this is a testament of Underhill's talent of evoking emotion powerfully. I also enjoyed Jake's father, and his tender relationship with Sara and her mother. He's such a wonderful example of who a father should be.

Bare In Mind: All Things Different contains slight profanity, and disturbing scenarios (allusions to assualt).

All Things Different is such a delightful surprise. It's refreshing, and also heavy at times, but its depth will grab you. It will take you through a coming of age journey of love, healing, and growth.

I give All Things Different by Shawn Underhill 5 out of 5 mason jars of sweet tea under the shimmering night sky.

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