Title: All I Know Now
Author: Carrie Hope Fletcher
Page count: 300 pages (-ish, not counting the props & curtain call)
Rating: 4/5 stars
Trigger warnings for the book: Difficult one: Some mention of sex and slightly (really only slightly) inappropriate jokes in high school, but all in a very nice (and apologetic) way. In the same nice (and slightly apologetic) way there is discussion of mental illness & self harm but never in a throwaway comment-style. It`s always in a very thoughtful way with references to where you can get help. (10 points to Gryffindor)
Spoiler warnings for this review: well. This is a non-fiction book, so technically it`s hard to spoiler someone`s life. But I`ll still try to steer clear from anything that can be considered a spoiler.
We all know that growing up is hard to do, and sometimes the only thing that makes it better are the reassuring words of someone who has walked that bumpy road just a few steps ahead of you and somehow ended up as a fully-functioning adult. Carrie Hope Fletcher is that person.* Thanks to her phenomenally popular YouTube videos, Carrie has become an ‘honorary big sister’ to hundreds of thousands of young people who turn to her for advice, friendship and, most of all, the knowledge that things will get better.
Carrie has created a safe and positive space for young people to connect and share their hopes and concerns online, and now she will share her most personal thoughts and experiences in her first book, ALL I KNOW NOW. Part memoir, part advice guide, it will include Carrie’s thoughts on some of the topics she’s asked about most regularly: bullying, body image, relationships and perhaps the scariest question of all: what does the future hold for me? With warmth, wit and a sprinkling of hard-won wisdom, Carrie will provide the essential tools for growing up gracefully . . . most of the time.
*Although she did recently post a video about how to pee in a onesie. So the definition of ‘adult’ is a bit flexible here . . .
Today, I`m skipping about 3 books ahead in my everlasting book-review-backlog to write this review about All I Know Now, by the lovely Carrie Hope Fletcher. As I`ve mentioned several times before, I`ve been following Carrie (it`s okay if I just call her Carrie, right? Honorary big sister and all that) on several socia media platforms for a while. She inspired my Letters to Autumn series, and just in general her attitude towards life and work inspires me quite often.
I also in a strange way feel like I`m writing a review about a good friend`s book, which is weird considering we`ve never met and she doesn`t know who I am. (You`re going to see the words “parasocial relationship” several times in this review.)
Now, a minor disclaimer first: I have never read this kind of non-fiction book before. I usually read science or history when I pick up anything non-fiction, so this kind of “guide to teenage years” thing is an entirely new experience for me.
It`s especially interesting because I`m, you know, not a teenager. In fact, with my 25-and-a-bit I`m older than Carrie and definitely did not need some of the advice in this book. But that`s okay! I do know that teenage me would have really appreciated some of these things. There`s some really solid advice in this book that the average teenager can really use. I won`t go into too much detail, because spoilers (?) but trust me on this: it`s a good book. Do people that have left high school behind them still need this book? Probably not. Though there`s some good advice in there that`s usable for every age (I`m looking at the internet section especially).
What I liked was Carrie`s writing style. All the sentences are very much her, they have her personality and her optimism and creativity shining through every word. At times, you can almost hear her giggle. This makes it a very fun read, especially combined with the sheer amount of pop/geek culture references. It`s a very simple read, accessible to all ages with not too many difficult words.
At other times, I could see the potential for a very beautiful and poetic book shining through. Especially in the way she talks about love, she uses a very poetic style while talking about it and it was just absolutely beautiful. And that`s saying something, coming from someone who generally dislikes romance-y things.
I also liked how all the sections are named after musical-related themes, like “props”, all the different “acts”, the “curtain call”. It adds a little something extra in a really nice way. Well done.
This book is very motivational. It wasn`t 100% convincing to me personally, because that`s not how I`m wired (read: I`m a sarcastic lil` bugger), but I can see how other people can find a lot of comfort, motivation and inspiration in this book.
It`s a very weird realisation to know that I`m very similar to Carrie, physically: we are roughly the same length & weight. But it`s even weirder to also be the only one of us to know this. (Again, that parasocial relationship.) But outside of physical appearance, I could tell that there are things we approach similarly. Albeit, I do procrastinate a lot now, which I feel very guilty and bummed out about, but as a former workaholic I can approve the messages of not wasting your time and using your words.
However, as someone with depression and an identity disorder, as a workaholic who crashed horribly when everything fell away, and as someone who has fought for every single thing in her life and hasn`t gotten anywhere in years despite non-stop working to try and change it, I also have the realistic sense that it`s not as easy as getting up and doing it. The section on the words “easier said than done” made me a bit uncomfortable as it made me feel a bit like it`s totally my own fault that I can`t always get things done. I`ve had those words, the “stop whining and just do it” type of words, the “it`s your own fault if you can`t do something” and every variation thereof no matter how kindly put, flung at me so often they`ve actually done real damage that now needs extensive discussing in multiple therapy sessions. I get that there`s generally a sense in society that if you just work hard enough, if you just get off your arse and do something, you`ll get somewhere. But it`s not always true, and I do feel a need to point it out: You can work extremely hard and not get anywhere, and it`s not your fault.
There, glad to get that off my chest.
So, some parts might need to be taken with a slight grain of salt. There`s one more heteronormative comment in the book (sex and love aren`t just reserved for one man and one woman!) but if it`s the same one I`ve seen mentioned in the TenEighty UK interview then it`ll be settled in the next print (10 more points to Gryffindor).
Either way, I have definitely seen a whole lot worse, and by far the majority of the book is really solid advice and fun anecdotes. Carrie does come across as a fun and interesting person to hang out with, with a ton of wisdom and anecdotes to tell, and I`m sure she`ll have much more for us in store in the coming years.
Do I recommend this book? If you`re interested in Carrie and her advice, then yes! Absolutely yes. If you`ve never heard of her, her style might take some getting used to and I would recommend checking out her Youtube channel first.
Unless you`re a teenager who`s struggling with something, anything. Which is all of you. Then this book might hold something good for you. Doesn`t matter whether you`re a boy or a girl or not from the UK, Carrie`s advice is pretty universal.
(You can find Carrie on her main Youtube channel here, or her website here. All her social media is linked everywhere as well. Or you can go watch her in Les Miserables as Eponine if you`re in London. All I Know Now is now available in the UK in Waterstones stores & other stores, and online at Waterstones and Amazon. It`s available to international fans, as proven by non-UK people like me. The US edition will be released in August. Here`s a list with release dates and availability around the world.)