Written entirely in verse, All of Me chronicles a sliver in the life of Ari Rosensweig, a seventh-grader living in San Francisco. Recently uprooted from Brooklyn so that his artist mother can pursue creative endeavors, all Ari wants is to be accepted by his new classmates. However, he’s been bullied, taunted, and assaulted at school because he is overweight.
Although Ari makes friends in his new community, he remains caught in the increasingly volatile dissolution of his parents’ marriage. Ari also reminiscences about his family’s Jewish experiences, and visits a rabbi to prepare for his bar mitzvah. Still, Ari’s struggles with his body and food begin to crowd his world with increasing ferocity, and his self-effacement and feelings of isolation intensify. Following an episode of self-harm, Ari’s mother takes him to the doctor and he begins a strict diet. Although he gradually loses weight, Ari learns to face inevitable setbacks as he must untangle the thorny issues of control and its effects on his development. He begins to understand his place in his family, in his circle of friends, and, ultimately, the space he occupies in the world.
Chris Baron’s writing is astute and stunning. All of Me is highly recommended and offers an eloquent and often-heartbreaking glimpse into the experiences of a layered, complex and relatable protagonist. Readers will surely root for Ari as his story unfolds.