76 pages 2 hours read

Mary Downing Hahn

All The Lovely Bad Ones

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2008

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Good Versus Bad and Evil

The title of the novel, All the Lovely Bad Ones, highlights the prominence of the theme Good versus Bad throughout the text. Hahn makes clear that definitions of good and bad are inherently subjective. These subjective labels can differ drastically from context to context and character to character. Travis thinks, “There was no denying it. We were bad ones, always in trouble—but not wicked” (156). The mischievous children in the text are frequently called “bad” by the adults in their life, however, their badness is often synonymous with playfulness and naughtiness. Hahn differentiates between the different meanings of bad quite clearly. In relation to the children, Mrs. Brewster says about Travis and Corey, “They’re a pair of bad ones themselves, full of sass and mischief just like Seth here” (156). Through this lens, Hahn emphasizes that these children are only guilty of being lively, disobedient children. These supposedly bad children are definitely “not wicked.” Hahn suggests that it is wickedness that is equivalent to true badness.

Despite their badness, Travis and Corey are the main protagonists of the novel. Miss Ada with her “WICKED HEART” contrasts sharply with the children she loathes (138).