All of Me

  • Review
By – September 23, 2019

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.

Jil­lian Bietz stud­ied library tech­nol­o­gy and research skills and cur­rent­ly works in the library sys­tem. She is a book review­er for the Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and Kirkus Review Indie. Jil­lian lives in South­ern California.

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