All The Good Things by Clare Fisher
All The Good Things is a well-written and heartbreaking novel about a young woman, Beth, who is in prison and encouraged by her therapist to write down whatever good things she can think of. Though this list and each explanation, her story emerges: how her life lead to the incident which ended up with her in prison. It is a gripping and moving book which shows how there are different sides to the story, even your own story.
The structure of the book means that events are told episodically in roughly chronological order, but with enough references early on to work out in broad strokes what has happened to Beth. As the narrative reaches these events, it becomes clear that her story is about how bad things can keep leading to more bad things, even though good things happen on a smaller scale. The novel is not particularly sensationalist despite the subject matter, but instead gives Beth real and human problems such as the way in which trauma and mental health issues affect all aspects of her life, from relationships to getting trapped in payday loans. Her narrative draws to a climax both in the story she is telling of her past and her present in the prison, as it becomes clear that she has never really been given the help she has needed.
Fisher paints a vivid and moving picture of how a person can be let down both by people and by the system, creating both a gripping novel and a stark reminder of the human cost of cuts to services for children, vulnerable people, and prisons. It is definitely one of my top books of the year so far.