What if your pencil had all the answers? Would you ace every test? Would you know what your teachers were thinking?
When Ava Anderson finds a scratched up pencil she doodles like she would with any other pencil. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear.
With the help of her friend Sophie, Ava figures out that the pencil will answer factual questions only – those with definite right or wrong answers – but won’t predict the future. Ava and Sophie discover all kinds of uses for the pencil, and Ava’s confidence grows with each answer. But it’s getting shorter with every sharpening, and when the pencil reveals a scary truth about Ava’s family, she realizes that sometimes the bravest people are the ones who live without all the answers..
All the Answers by Kate Messner
Published January 27, 2015 by Bloomsbury
Format: Netgalley* e-book; 256 pages
Also By This Author: Capture the Flag, Over and Under the Snow, Marty McGuire
Goodreads | Amazon | Author’s Website
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥
Before I get to my review, I have a little story for you all. Around three and a half years ago when I became a book blogger I joined a site called Netgalley. If you’re a book reviewer, you are probably familiar with this site, but if you’re not, it’s where book bloggers can request ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of prepublished books, and publishers will accept or deny these requests. Netgalley only releases e-books or e-galleys of ARCs, not hard copies. For anyone who has used Netgalley, you will be able to relate to me: it is SO TEMPTING to request ALL THE BOOKS. That’s basically what happened to me when I first joined. Since I was brand new, I assumed I would maybe get approved for a book or two. So I requested 20+ books during my first week on the site. I was only denied 6. Fast forward three years and I still have 6 books from 2014 to review (and I want to review them all, so here I am, ticking away at those stragglers).
On a whim last week I decided to finally read All the Answers. It’s been a while since I’ve read any Middle Grade books (the last one being Serafina and the Black Cloak, which I was really disappointed in), but this one just sounded interesting. It’s a light fantasy book, and that’s not really a good description for it because it’s more in the realm of magical realism, a genre I actually really enjoy. The few things I’ve written personally have been in the magical realism genre.
All the Answers was refreshing. I always enjoy reading novels with themes of mental health, and reading about Ava’s journey as she struggles with anxiety reminded me of my own early teenage years. Ava is a worrier; she worries about math tests, she worries about falling down in front of classmates, but most of all she worries about her family. Sometimes she worries so much that she has an anxiety attack, and she is seeing a counselor to help her overcome these attacks. I should say that while this book focuses on Ava’s battle with fear and anxiety, it’s done so in a realistically encouraging way.
As a protagonist, Ava was so easy to like and relate to. She has a good heart and a strong mind, and she would make an excellent role model for any preteen struggling with worrying and anxiety. Middle School is a tough time for every teenager, and I’m glad that there are positive novels like All the Answers for them to turn to.
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. These opinions are my own!