Review: All That Shines by Ellen Hagan

All That Shines by Ellen Hagan

All That Shines
Ellen Hagan
Published September 5, 2023

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About All That Shines

A contemplative novel in verse that questions what it means to lose everything you once treasured and rediscover yourself, falling in love along the way.

Chloe Brooks has only ever known what it’s like to have everything. Her parents’ wealth and place in society meant she had all she wanted, and friends everywhere she turned. Until it all crashes Her father is arrested in the middle of the night, under investigation for fraud.

Bankrupt and facing foreclosure, Chloe must forgo her lavish summer plans as she and her mom are forced to move into one of the rundown apartments they still own, just outside Lexington, Kentucky. Without her riches, Chloe loses her friends, her comfort, her confidence, and her sense of self, unsure of who she is and if she is even worth anything if she nothing to offer.

To Chloe’s surprise, she bonds with her neighbors, Clint, Skye, James, and Natalia, and they introduce her to the side of Kentucky she’s long ignored. Her new friends are the only ones who see her for who she truly is, but will they stay by her side once they discover her family’s true identity, or will Chloe lose them, too?

In her signature captivating verse, Ellen Hagan encapsulates the hesitant joy of reshaping your identity and rediscovering yourself.

All That Shines on Goodreads

My Review

This is the third novel in verse by Ellen Hagan that I’ve read, and I always enjoy the way she captures emotion with her writing. Both RECKLESS, GLORIOUS GIRL and ALL THAT SHINES are set in Kentucky and touch on state pride and love. It’s so rich and deep that it doesn’t surprise me at all that the author is from there herself.

I loved the relationships in the book between Chloe and the other kids at the Limestone Apartments. I loved the way they pulled her into their family and the way they reacted to information about Chloe’s past. Chloe’s relationship with her mom also really touched me. It was so sweet watching them both figure out how to connect to themselves, each other, and their possible new community in this new life they were living.

The only thing that I struggled with was how quickly Chloe believed her dad was guilty and how his guilt seemed a foregone conclusion. I wasn’t sure if that was because she knew things and had put pieces together. She seemed to describe herself as feeling close to him but also a little afraid of him, so I expected her to wrestle more with whether he was truly at fault.

I ended up assuming that that part of the story was summarized so that we could move on to the bigger, more central parts of the book: Chloe’s personal reformation.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. I think DON’T CALL ME A HURRICANE is probably still my favorite of the books I’ve read by Ellen Hagan, but I liked a lot of things about this book, too. Readers who enjoy novels in verse or stories about resilience and community should add this one to their reading lists.

All That Shines on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Chloe is from a white, wealthy family. Minor characters are BIPOC and LGBTQ+.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Mentions of suicidal thoughts.

Drug Content
Chloe and her friends get drunk on champagne at her dad’s business celebration.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: All That Shines by Ellen Hagan

  1. I don’t read much YA, but this sounds pretty good. I’ve always kind of liked stories where rich people love it all and have to adapt to the real world, and I like books in verse. I’ll put it on my list. Thanks for your review.