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All That I Can Fix

Review

All That I Can Fix

Ronney's life is complicated. His father tried to die by suicide but failed, only shooting himself in the arm. Now, he stays in his room, wallowing in his depression. His mother has anxiety and works long hours to support the family financially. His sister is a genius who no one seems to understand. His best friend Jello has too many plans but never thinks them through. He has a crush on his other best friend George who has already shot down his feelings. And now there are animals on the loose around town. Can life get any worse?

I will admit it: I have mixed feelings about this book. I am mostly annoyed with the main character Ronney. Ronney is not a nice person. He makes terrible, offensive jokes. He stays mad at his father and mother way too long and constantly vilifies everyone in his life. His actions do have some reasoning behind them. It must be hard being the man of the house at 15. He has no one to rely on other than himself. His friends do not help. George has problems completely different than his own.

"Crystal Chan weaves these wildly different plotlines together very well....If you enjoy complex storylines and slow-burn relationships (mostly platonic), this book is for you."

He does change in the end. He is still abrasive, but he is less abrasive. He begins to open up a bit more and is more willing to accept his parents, especially his dad. I am proud of his change and happy he is willing to be someone different.

The book had many plotlines. Namely, the finding Nick story with Sam and Ronney; the family story with Ronney, his two parents and his sister Mina; the romance story with Ronney, George and Jello; and the safari story with the escaped animals. While this is a lot, the author Crystal Chan weaves these wildly different plotlines together very well.

The finding Nick story is interesting. Nick is Sam's older brother who ran away after being condemned by his family because he has an alcohol problem. This is one of the storylines I disliked at first, but as Sam and Ronney's relationship developed, I slowly came around. For Sam, Ronney is the older brother he deserves. For Ronney, Sam is a little version of him (though I cannot say if that is a good or bad thing) he can talk to and live vicariously through. They have a true bond, which I adored. I cannot say that Ronney is a good influence on Sam's life, but he did affect the younger boy.

The family story is one I enjoyed wholeheartedly. Sure, Ronney was annoying most of the time, and I hated how he treated his father. He does love his sister Mina which was nice. Most of the time, he was slinging insults at his father who was too weak to fight back. Now, I hated that part, but Ronney slowly changed. His dysfunctional family obviously affected him, but he was staying strong by supporting them, even though he might not love them when looking from the outside. He came around in the end, though, and began to open up. I am very happy that his mother berated him, though. He deserved a good talking-to.

The romance story was not too bad. It was not amazing, but it was not too bad. I felt like George was great as a friend characters versus a love interest. Her life was so completely unlike Ronney's, so she was a great foil. She cared more about grades and GPA, just like my friends. I was interested to see Ronney's life as someone who skipped school but for good reason (fixing his family home). The two of them had a good, platonic relationship. I would not have asked George to be anything more than his best friend. Jello was a wrench in the plans, though. I did not particularly like him; he was too reckless, but he was a good friend. He tried to reconnect with Ronney after the romantic subplot began. He tried. I do think he deserves a better friend than Ronney, but I do not think he would trade for anyone else in the world. Jello did have interesting motives, but he just went about things all wrong; that is why he needed the rational, planning-type Ronney.

The animal story does not really come into play. I forgot about it sometimes. It mostly affects the Ronney-George-Jello relationship, as Ronney discovers something about his two best friends that shatters his relationship with them for a good 50 pages or so. It does come into play with the Sam-Ronney relationship as well. But it mostly stays in the background, as a warning to the children to be careful more than anything else. I would have preferred an exploration of gun rights vs control (since people were scared for their safety and were buying/carrying their guns to protect themselves), but this might have derailed part of the story.

This book is not easy. If you like nice, young protagonists, you will hate Ronney. But part of his charm is his rough personality. If you enjoy complex storylines and slow-burn relationships (mostly platonic), this book is for you.

Reviewed by Wren L., Teen Board Member on August 8, 2018

All That I Can Fix
by Crystal Chan