BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: All The Things That Could Go Wrong
Author: Stewart Foster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 2017
Most Suitable For: Years 5-6+
All The Things That Could Go Wrong is an absorbing story about bullying and friendship crafted with the right balance of warmth and tension to engage readers in upper KS2. Like most stories, there are two sides to this one and the narrative alternates between the viewpoints of teenagers Alex and Dan.
Alex has OCD and is bullied at school. Daily life is a struggle for Alex, plagued by thoughts of the germs all around him, the cracks in the pavement and the worries about what awful things might happen if his parents do not say “be safe” back to him before they go their separate ways each day. Leaving the house is hard enough, but living in fear of the awful bullying at school makes life hard to bear for Alex.
Like Alex, Dan’s life is not straight forward either. Since his older brother left home, everything in Dan’s world feels different. Dan plays out his frustrations at school, messing around in class and finding easy targets at school to bully with his friends.
The two boys’ mums are old friends and unaware of the issues at school between Alex and Dan. Much to the dislike of both boys, the mums arrange for the pair to spend time together at the weekends building a raft. As time goes by with the boys working together on the raft, a new empathy begins to develop and their relationship begins to grow, albeit shaped by a mixture of tension, confusion and developing compassion.
I found the plot to be absorbing and emotionally engaging, making it a quick and intense read for me. I thought that Alex’s OCD was portrayed compassionately, sensitively and without stereotyping and I came away with an increased awareness of some of the possible nuances of living with OCD. The book could also open some important classroom discussions about the complexities of bullying and its effects.
This would be a wonderful story to read in upper KS2 classrooms and would appeal to readers who have enjoyed books about real-life issues such as Wonder or The Goldfish Boy.
Many thanks to school librarian Kate Gieler for recommending this book and providing my copy.