Everything is Changed

Nova Weetman

Everything is Changed
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Everything is Changed

Nova Weetman

Lifelong friends Jake and Alex are torn apart when they make a terrible split-second decision that ends in tragedy. As guilt closes in on Jake, he becomes increasingly determined to confess to the police. But Alex just wants to move on with life. He’s got a cool new girlfriend, fancy new house and posh new school, and doesn’t want his future to be ruined by a mistake in his past.

Told backwards in alternating viewpoints, this gritty novel takes us through the wreckage of a broken friendship, back to the moment when everything changed.

Review

There are many ways to tell a story, but reverse chronology must be one of the least common – there has to be a good reason for writing a story backwards. Nova Weetman had one such reason and in Everything Is Changed theme and structure are perfectly complemented. This tale of two boys whose lives undergo dramatic, slow-burning change in the months following a split-second decision is an excellent read for teenagers.

Tension is high from the start as we meet Ellie, girlfriend of one of the boys, who hints at the seriousness of what has occurred, how her own life is different by association. Then Alex enters the scene and something about his attitude is off; he’s keeping his cool while around him everyone else is losing theirs. And then we hear from Jake, terrified, remorseful: ‘We killed him’. The reader sympathises with sorrowful Jake, the more emotionally engaged boy. For now. Because at this point the author is like a card-turner, coolly revealing each new scene, which puts the previous one into a new, more complex light.

The theme of cause-and-effect is put to great use as we observe the boys see-saw emotionally. Each new (but chronologically older) conversation or action has led to the situation we read about in the previous chapter. Confused? You won’t be – Weetman tells this story plain and true with lean sentences and you soon get used to the backwards structure. The penultimate chapter is worth waiting for, and the final one absolutely sad.

A great read about the complexity of male friendship, perception, and consequences.


Emily Gale is a friend of Readings.

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