Cherry is a baker – with a secret. People love her baking because she is able to see what they need and bake it for them without their even needing to ask. And no, I don’t mean that she can see that you’ve been really craving a cinnamon roll. She is able to see the negative emotions that follow her customers around, and bakes her good feelings into her goodies to counteract their depression, or anxiety, or loneliness. And it’s all going pretty well for Cherry until she meets Chase, who turns her world upside down.
I have a lot of thoughts about this book. It was entertaining, and I read the entire thing in one day as I sat and waited for my bed to be delivered. I feel like there are many elements that make All That She Can See and improvement on Carrie Hope Fletcher’s debut novel, On The Other Side (review here), but there are also so many other things that she did with this one that I felt like would have benefited from a stronger editorial hand.
I think my biggest issue with sorting my thoughts out about this book is that it felt like two completely different stories. There’s a complete tonal shift between the first and second half, and reading it felt like I was reading a whole new book with an unrelated plot and a brand new cast of characters. So I guess I’ll just split my thoughts that way as well, rather than try and talk about the book as a whole. (Don’t worry, no spoilers.)
The first half of the book felt very similar to On The Other Side – it was sappy and cheesy, heavy-handed rather than subtle, the magical realism was rather silly but there was a logic to it. I got this sort of Inside Out vibe, with giving so much power to the negative emotions. There was a whole lot of exposition (which wouldn’t necessarily be something I’d be concerned about if it weren’t for the total shift in the second act of the book), and all of the elements felt over-explained. I could have done, for example, without the explanation of how Cherry was able to infuse her positive emotions into the different ingredients – it kind of ruined the magic for me. Nonetheless, these are things that I’ve come to expect from Fletcher, and I really do believe that it’s a stylistic choice. I prefer when authors leave more to the reader’s imagination, but I completely understand the need to share all the ins and outs of how things work. (I think it’s part of why I never got the whole fascination with Pottermore, and why I really don’t care whenever J.K. Rowling reveals “new information” about something in the Wizarding World).
The second half of the book took on a sort of heist vibe, we were introduced to a completely new plot arc, and this was where the logic to her magical realism started to fall apart. I appreciated that she tried to really raise the stakes in the story, that she had this whole cast of characters that she was working with, that she was trying to weave in little clues at the beginning of the story to hint at the Bigger Picture – it just kind of fell flat for me. It felt a little bit like a made-for-TV kids film that was all just Too Much.
Once again, Carrie Hope Fletcher delivers a really intriguing concept with a whole lot of sap and cheese, and not a lot of subtlety. There’s a lot of potential with this book, and I just wish that an editor (or a beta reader, or someone) had helped iron out the disconnect between the first and second acts in the book. I am still looking forward to her next book, though, because I do see her writing improve with each new novel.