I am always drawn to books that lead the characters to wonder: what-if? If given the opportunity, would you revisit a certain event in your life and possibly make a different decision? I think that it’s human nature to wonder if we’ve made the right choices, followed the right paths, and ended up exactly where we were always meant to be. Tom Ellen takes his readers on a magical, emotional, and heartfelt journey on a multitude of Christmas Eves in Ben’s life in order to for him to truly discover where his heart belongs.
Ben is down on life. His marriage, his career, and his self-esteem are at an all-time low. With Christmas just a few hours away, he is melancholy and reflective. After being in touch with Alice, a former love interest, he begins to wonder if he had made the right choice all those years ago, back in university. Was Daphne the right choice or was Alice the one he was meant to be with? With his wife out at an annual office Christmas party, he decides to call up one of his best mates to meet at the local pub for a few drinks. But while Ben would love nothing more than to have a heart-to-heart with Harv and spill out all of his feelings and fears, their relationship just doesn’t delve that deep and he is once again left with his own thoughts, doubts, and guilt.
When a watch salesman approaches Ben with a gift, Ben reluctantly takes the watch that’s hands are stuck on 11:59 p.m. The twinkly eyed, bearded, cryptic, almost familiar old man vanishes almost as fast as he appeared, leaving Ben with a malfunctioning watch and a weird feeling in the pit of his stomach.
This is where the story takes on A Christmas Carol vibe, taking Ben on a journey of Christmases past, present and future in order for him to see what life could have been. Although Ben had made some less than stellar decisions, my heart broke for him. He had experienced a great deal of loss in his life that had affected him immensely. I won’t get into the nuts and bolts of it, but just believe me when I say that it was incredibly emotional.
All About Us is a charming novel that is not without its share of angst. I was completely invested in the characters and their lives. I wanted Ben to finally realize what was important and what he genuinely wanted out of life. His journey wasn’t easy, but it was a journey worth taking, and I was glad to have been there right along with him.