In Nicole Deese’s novel All That Really Matters, Molly McKenzie’s video channel about makeup and fashion has over half a million followers. She has corporate sponsors, a virtual assistant, and a manager who became her boyfriend.
Her manager shares an opportunity to host a makeover show. But first, she needs to increase her followers even more. And she needs a cause to show her compassionate, involved side.
Molly seeks advice from her pastor brother, and he directs her to a mentor program for kids transitioning out of the foster care program.
But the program director, Silas, is not impressed by Molly at their first interview. His kids are dealing with serious, real-life problems Molly knows nothing about. How could she help them?
When Molly comes back to him with a well-thought-out plan for classes, Silas decides to give her a chance. And his life and program are never the same.
At first, Molly is motivated to simply get this requirement out of the way. But as she gets involved with the kids, especially Wren, a quiet outsider of the group, Molly begins to really care about them.
Just as Silas begins to appreciate that there’s more to Molly than her sparkling online presence, a series of crises come that cause Molly to question her identity and purpose.
The first part of this book was just delightful. Molly is not the kind of character I’d normally connect with, but Nicole took care not to make Molly a caricature. She’s enthusiastic, but not overly bubbly. And, as Silas discovered, she’s not empty and vain.
Silas is a serious, caring, but by-the-book director. I like how Molly’s influence loosened him up a little. One reviewer thought they had something like the Maria/Captain Von Trapp vibe in The Sounds of Music.
When the crises came, my heart went out to Molly and the other people involved. Nicole drew all the characters so well and infused the plot with both humor and pathos.
Here are a few of the quotes I loved:
Of helping without overstepping. It’s difficult to see real needs and not want to rush the process to appease our own desire for restoration (p. 125, Kindle version).
But more often than not, the best rescue plan we can offer someone we care about is our support for each step they take forward (p. 209).
I think we first have to understand just how deeply we are already loved that way—by God. Then we can love each other out of the response to His love for us (p. 247).
You don’t honor God with your life by changing your personality and tossing out everything that is unique about who you are. You honor Him by offering those very gifts back to Him (p. 331).
This is the first book I’ve read by Nicole, but it won’t be the last. In fact, I loved this book so much, I already started the sequel, All That It Takes.
I love your review of this book, Barbara. And this is probably one of my favorite books by Nicole Reese. But I also loved The Words We Lost which releases in about a week. 🙂 I hoe you enjoy the sequel too!
Great suggestion! I snagged it on Kindle Unlimited. It’s sequel I’ll have to buy.
I read this one last year and had one of those late nights that I rarely indulge in. I loved seeing how both characters changed and grew and also how Molly’s stand (a sacrifice at the time) became the turning point for the campaign. That is such a great quote from p.331.
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