45 pages • 1 hour read
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All This Time is a young adult novel written by Mikki Daughtry and Rachael Lippincott. This novel is a contemporary romance that draws on tropes from the fairy tale genre. Published in 2020 by Simon & Schuster, All This Time is a New York Times bestseller. Daughtry and Lippincott also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Five Feet Apart, which was adapted from the screenplay of the hit movie Five Feet Apart.
This guide uses the Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers edition (2020).
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On the night of Kyle’s high school graduation party, everything seems to be going well. Though he lost out on a football scholarship thanks to a senior-year injury, Kyle is still enrolling at UCLA with his long-time girlfriend, Kimberly. His best friend Sam has been waitlisted at UCLA, so it’s possible that their high school trifecta can continue. But Kyle’s life quickly implodes. He catches Kim and Sam in an uncomfortable conversation, and Kim reveals that she’s not going to UCLA; she’s going to Berkely. Kyle angrily drives away, but Kim follows him to his car. The rain is falling hard as Kim tells Kyle she wants to break up with him so she can learn who she is outside of their relationship. Kyle pulls the car over, reeling. A car hits them from behind, and Kyle wakes up in the hospital.
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Kyle survives the car crash, but Kimberly doesn’t. He starts the long and arduous process of coming to terms with his new life. He refuses to go to UCLA and spends his days in his bedroom. When he does go out for walks around town, every shop and street reminds him of Kim. He sees flashes of her around him, as though her ghost is still with him. He’s particularly freaked out when he hears her phone ringing. He has her purse and phone—they were in the box of belongings retrieved from the car wreck. Even though he knows that Kim’s phone should rationally be off and uncharged, he believes Kim is trying to reach out to him.
Kyle goes to Kim’s grave often. At the cemetery, he meets a girl named Marley who visits her twin sister Laura’s grave. Kyle and Marley develop a friendship as they talk about their lost loved ones and the struggle of acclimating to life without them. Meanwhile, Kyle resolves a long-standing issue with Sam. Kyle avoids Sam for many weeks after the accident, but they finally begin mending their friendship. Kyle figures out that Sam has always been in love with Kimberly. Sam is mourning the loss of his loved one, a love that he never pursued out of respect and loyalty to Kyle. Kyle starts to understand that everyone should live for the present moment because they never know when life will change. As Kyle starts to feel better about his life at home with his mom and the world without Kim, he and Marley grow closer. Kyle quickly develops feelings for Marley. Though they try to fight off their attraction, they ultimately can’t ignore it.
Marley and Kyle usually meet at the pond, where Marley tells Kyle about the symbolism of flowers and saves snails from being stepped on. Marley is painfully shy with new people, and she only comes over to Kyle’s house when his mother isn’t around. Marley, Kyle’s mom, and Sam all help get Kyle back on track. His mom helps him get a sports journalism internship with the local paper, and he even enrolls in journalism classes at a community college. Just as Kyle’s life becomes picture-perfect, his life changes again.
Kyle chases Marley into a storm, where he passes out from pain. He wakes up in the hospital room and learns that he’s been in a coma for eight weeks. Kim never died in the accident; she survived, and the last year of Kyle’s life never actually happened. The doctors explain to him that his fantasies were born from external sources that his brain processed while in the coma. For example, the hauntings of Kim’s spirit were actually Kim visiting Kyle in the hospital. Marley’s smell was actually the scent of honeysuckle wafting in through the window.
Kyle doesn’t believe that Marley doesn’t exist. He searches for her online but realizes that he never asked her her last name, or even knew what high school she went to. Kyle worries that his relationship with Marley was yet another example of his selfishness. While Kyle agonizes over Marley, he regains his physical strength in therapy and reestablishes his friendships. He and Kim agree that they’re better off apart but remain friends. Kyle encourages Sam to be open to Kim about his feelings.
Kyle discovers that Marley is the daughter of one of the nurses. Painfully shy and deeply depressed, the real Marley doesn’t speak. She writes stories in her yellow notebook, the same stories and notebook that existed in Kyle’s coma-induced dreams. While he was in his coma, Marley told him stories that fed his fantasies. Her stories were so happy and vivid that Kyle’s subconscious mind latched onto her narratives as reality.
Marley did indeed lose her twin sister in a car accident. She feels irreparable guilt and grief because she watched her sister get hit by a car and didn’t stop it. Kyle tries to revive his relationship with Marley. He helps her pick snails around the courtyard and gives her space while assuring her that he’s around if she needs him. They redevelop their relationship in quiet steps.
Kyle FaceTimes with Marley while she walks her dog, Georgia, around the pond. He watches as a little boy races into the street behind Marley to retrieve Georgia’s tennis ball. Marley drops the phone as she races to save the boy. Kyle hears the screech of tires and screams out for Marley. Marley is admitted into the hospital. Though her injuries are not grievous, she seems to be in her own self-induced coma. Kyle tells her the same stories that Marley told him, reentering their fantasy world. He finds her at the cemetery and realizes that Laura’s grave was actually Marley’s all along. He watches her as she walks over to Laura. Kyle begs her to stay Earthside and choose a happy story. It works; Marley says goodbye to Laura and comes out of her coma.
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