Originally published: 13 October 2020
Author: Tom Ellen
Published by: HQ Stories
Length: 400 pages
Reading dates: 1-5 December 2020
If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?
Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?
He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.
Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?
I picked up a proof of All About Us by Tom Ellen from the HQ New Voices Fiction Showcase which I attended in late January 2020 (remember when we used to go to book events – I miss them so much!). Last week I was in the very unusual position of not knowing what to read next having no imminent blog tours due so I asked my boyfriend to choose me a book and out of the 260 or so I have to read he chose this! And what a perfect choice it was!
in December 2020, Ben and Daphne’s relationship is stale. He is feeling depressed and he has suspicions about Daphne and a man at her work. On Christmas Eve, he meets a scruffy old man in the pub and he gives him a watch that appears to be broken, he puts it on and forgets about it. Getting pretty drunk he passes out in the attic looking at a box of old memorabilia and to his immense surprise, wakes up on 5th December 2005, the night he originally met Daphne. Back in 2005 Ben had decided that something would happen with flatmate Alice that night, both of them flirting with each other since the start of term at University. Back in 2020, he has been flirting again with Alice and has been wondering where his life would take him if he’d kissed her that night instead of Daphne. Would he of been happier?
The watch is stuck at one minute to midnight and Ben soon realises when he reaches that time, he will wake up somewhere else at another significant event in his life. Throughout the experience, Ben can remember his life back in 2020 and can choose to do things differently, knowing they won’t effect his life back in 2020. He gets to see his mum one last time, he has to relive her funeral and gets to experiences other significant events with both Alice and Daphne.
I absolutely adored this! It firmly falls in the “uplit” category. I loved Ben…I felt sorry for him because he is still mourning the unexpected death of his mum but I also wanted to give him a shake to snap him out of his melancholy and to make him appreciate what he has! I really enjoyed him living his significant moments again in a slightly different way as he has the benefit of hindsight and how it changes the way he looks at his life with Daphne back in 2020.
Tom Ellen writes with humour, but All About Us is also a moving novel about love, loss and heartbreak. It is absolutely the perfect novel for right now as all of the days he revisits are in December so it is definitely a Christmas book! An absolutely enchanting book – I loved it!
Many thanks to HQ Stories for my proof copy.
About the author:
Tom is an author and journalist from London. He is the co-writer of three critically acclaimed Young Adult novels: LOBSTERS (which was shortlisted for The Bookseller’s inaugural YA Book Prize in 2015), NEVER EVERS and FRESHERS (nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal). He is currently working on his first Middle Grade book, to be published by Chicken House in Spring 2021. His solo adult debut novel is the romantic comedy ALL ABOUT US (HQ/HarperCollins, published October 2020). His second adult novel will be out with HQ in 2022. His books have been widely translated and are published in 20 countries.
He is a regular contributor to Viz comic, and has also written for publications such as Cosmopolitan, Empire, Evening Standard Magazine, The Daily Mash, Glamour, NME, ESPN, ShortList, Time Out London, Vice, Stylist and many more.