by Amy Jones
I should really start this review off with a confession: I didn’t find We’re All in This Together particularly funny, despite my copy of the book telling me that I should, but that’s probably just a measure of being unable to easily fit joy into my hardened heart. It seems that I can’t properly appreciate a story unless I can witness someone’s life falling apart before me, and, luckily for me, Jones’ story presents several unravelling lives for my enjoyment, some doing so in a spectacular fashion.
In We’re All in This Together, a Thunder Bay woman winds up in a coma after going over Kakabeka Falls in a barrel, leaving her family reflecting on their lives up to that point in search of a reason why. The story transports us from the present to the past and back again, and the seamless transitions back and forth are where the writing really shines. While the explicit explanations of what everyone was thinking didn’t necessarily work for me, the complex characters exude personality when Jones makes them respond to difficult situations in ways that make their emotions apparent. In fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that the author achieves her most powerful passages in the places that she observes the greatest subtlety, but I personally prefer an ambiguous story to a straightforward one.
When everything comes together, We’re All in This Together is about how terrible things can get when you ignore the elephant––or, in this case, the barrel––in the room, how it’s still possible to work things out when everything seems to be spiralling out of control. Despite any criticism I can garner, it’s definitely full of heart and I enjoyed it quite a bit.