Review: ‘Every Little Thing in the World” by Nina de Gramont

Review: ‘Every Little Thing in the World” by Nina de GramontEvery Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2010-03-23
Format: Hardcover
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Sixteen-year-old Sydney Biggs is a “good kid.” Smart, pretty, self-aware. No one doubts that she’ll go far in life. But, lately her mother worries that Sydney is wandering down the wrong path and getting all caught up in petty teenage rebellion and shenanigans. When Sydney and her best friend Natalia “borrow” a car to go to a party and then get escorted home by the police, their parents pack them up and ship them off to a hard-love wilderness camp—to stop this behavior before it gets out of hand, before things go too far. The problem is, they already have.

Sydney—the “good kid”—is pregnant.

In the wilds of Canada, where the girls are to spend the next four weeks canoeing, camping and foraging for food, time is ticking, because Sydney isn't sure what she wants to do about her pregnancy. And she certainly isn't expecting the other heady issues that will confront her as she forges friendships with her adventure-mates, including a guy who makes it no secret that he is a major thug and a teen television heartthrob with a secret of his own, not to mention her own best friend -- who is very adamant about what Sydney should do.

All right, I’ll admit it. I’ve been eyeing this book for years, but I’ve bypassed it every time. Why? I figured that it would be your average teenage pregnancy story, and I thought I knew how it would end. I didn’t care to read a book that I feel as if I’ve read many times before.

I was wrong, as usual.

I started reading this book on a whim, and I just couldn’t put it down. As soon as the story opens, Sydney has already discovered she is pregnant, and the rest of the book details her journey to making her final decision about the pregnancy. Sydney’s honest and introspective voice as a narrator drew me in, and I just had to read on to discover how she was going to deal all of her problems.

One of the best parts about this book is how many layers there are too it — this is not just a story about teenage pregnancy. As in real life, Sydney has so many other problems, and the people around her do, too. She struggles to connect with her mom, who doesn’t seem to care about her like she used to; punishment for the way Sydney is ‘messing up her life’ seems to be all her mom cares about. Money is tight, and Sydney’s continued attendance at her private school is up in the air. Her relationship with her dad and his new family is as strained as ever. And her best friend Natalie is having her own identity crisis, worried about who really loves her and who she really loves.

This is the situation Sydney is in while she must navigate her way to a decision.

So when her dad decides to send her and Natalie to wilderness camp to ‘reconnect with nature’ and correct her behavior, Sydney is of two minds. On the one hand, she really wants to leave all her problems behind for a few weeks; on the other, time is running out for her to make a decision.

At camp, Sydney can escape a lot of her problems — but not all of them. She meets and begins to befriend fellow campers who have their own issues, all while hiding her own biggest problem.

Though she tries to forget about her pregnancy, Natalie won’t let her. Sydney’s evolving friendship with Natalie and their dialogue together over what to do about Sydney’s pregnancy forms part of the core of Every Little Thing in the WorldThough supportive at first about Sydney’s thoughts on abortion, something in Natalie’s own life changes that convinces her to change her mind. So while she must decide about her pregnancy, Sydney must also find a way to keep Natalie as a friend, no matter what she chooses to do.

I highly respect that Nina de Gramont has Sydney explore every option open to her in regards to her pregnancy. No option is painted as completely black and white, completely right or wrong. Instead Sydney explores the many shades of gray that exist, finding that no option is perfect and that every situation is unique. What Sydney needs to do is find out which option is right for her, and figure out what future she is to have for herself.

And I would be remiss in reviewing this book and talking about Sydney’s decision without mentioning Mick, one of the secondary characters she meets at camp. Mick arrives at camp through a program for disadvantaged kids, and he adds a whole different perspective to the story. While Sydney is trying to figure out her own shades of gray, Mick presents a different kind of life, where choices are not always available. He defends the decisions he’s had to make as necessary, and has lived with the consequences. Mick introduces even more moral ambiguity not the book.

All these heavy topics play out against the beautiful and unforgiving wilderness of Canada, which provides for the perfect backdrop to the book.  If I had to boil this story down to it’s essence, I would say it’s just about a girl trying to navigate her life, looking up at the stars and wondering what’s right, what’s wrong, and what she’s going to do. It’s a story that broadened my horizons, made my head spin thinking, and touched something deep within me, something emotional and deeply human.

And no cop-out ending here, folks. No one comes to save Sydney — she must decide things for herself. There is no one that makes Sydney’s choice for her or makes it easier, only the realities of life.

A beautiful novel that tackles a controversial subject, without presenting things as only right or wrong. Compelling and deeply thoughtful.

Comments

  • Yay for being proved wrong in a GOOD way! 🙂 From your review, I gather that the author did a great job of tackling difficult issues while weaving an interesting story at the same time. And, I love that it’s set in Canada! Adding it to my TBR pile now. Thanks!
    Carmel @ Rabid Reads recently posted…A Stompin’ Good Excerpt From Tricia Skinner + Giveaway #StompvsRompMy Profile

    • You’re welcome! Yea, the setting was so beautiful and reminded me of Maine (I just got back from vacation there!) and while I wasn’t expecting it, I was definitely surprised in the best way. I’ve never heard any buzz about this book (but then again it’s old), but it deserves more!

  • This sounds wonderful. No cop-out, wonderful character development, and Mick? Sign me up! I wouldn’t have picked this up based on the summary alone. Great review, Lina!
    Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms recently posted…Review: The Art of Lainey by Paula StokesMy Profile

    • There’s definitely a lot of hidden elements to this book, for sure. And Mick is key to this book, it wouldn’t be the same without him! I hope you enjoy it! (And if you do, spread the word! This book needs more buzz.)

  • I haven’t heard of this book before, but it sounds really good. I like the idea of the camp and that it’s set in Canada.
    Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Really Want To Read But Don’t Own YetMy Profile

  • Anna says:

    Nicely written!

  • I’m not sure if I’ll be picking this up, it sounds similar to If I Stay by Gayle Forman, I didn’t enjoy that book because the whole storyline is about her deciding whether or not to live. But thank you for sharing! I’ll still think about it, though. HAHA
    Chyna @ Lite-Rate-Ture recently posted…ARC Review: Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn DolamoreMy Profile

    • If I Stay wasn’t my favorite book either, and I can’t say that this book reminded me all that much of it. To me, it was more about Sydney figuring out her future and trying to determine who she was apart from everyone else’s opinions of her. I’d still give it a shot if I were you!

  • I like the fact that it doesn’t only revolves arounf the pregnancy thing. Although I woud never have guessed from the cover that that was the subject! And, Canada, finally a book with that setting LOL.

    Also, hey, how great is this book fitting on this blog? I mean, the title, the colors. Right? 😉
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…Blog Tour (Review + Giveaway): Part-time Princess (Ladies in Waiting #1) by Pamela DuMondMy Profile

    • It’s definitely NOT just a book about teen pregnancy but about so much more, and it’s really powerful. I think that’s why it doesn’t show that in the cover, and instead shows the MC looking confident and sure on her wilderness trip — because confidence in herself is what she finds there.

      And it’s definitely about time a book was set in Canada! Though I can think of a few off the top of my head — The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe and Boys, Bears, and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald.

      The colors are definitely perfect! It’s like I planned it…. 😉

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