Book Review: “All About Mia” by Lisa Williamson

Mia is the middle child and the only one of her sisters who doesn’t have a “thing.” Her younger sister, Audrey, is a remarkable swimmer, destined for the Olympics. Her older sister, Grace, is super smart and heading to Cambridge in the fall. Mia loves partying with her best friends, but somehow that doesn’t seem equal to her sisters’ accomplishments in their parents’ eyes. When Grace comes home from abroad pregnant and Mia’s parents seem to accept it almost without batting an eye, it’s almost more than Mia can stand.

In All About Mia, author Lisa Williamson has crafted a story full of humor and drama that’s sure to please fans of television dramas like Skins. Williamson herself lives in London, so for American readers, the novel has the added flavor of Britishness – not an insignificant appeal given how much all of us are fans of a certain other English teenager. The high points of the novel are definitely the heart with which Williamson animates her characters, especially Mia’s ragtag group of friends – Mikey, Kimmie, and Stella – and Grace’s boyfriend, Sam (little sister Audrey was also a favorite).

The problem with All About Mia is that it doesn’t seem to adequately address some of the issues Mia is experiencing throughout the story. She frequently references “feeling nothing” and not being able to pinpoint the cause of her unhappiness or her bad decisions. In addition, Mia drinks heavily and dangerously.

These issues are explored in the book as primarily resulting from a fraught relationship with her sister Grace, and they are “solved” when their relationship starts to heal, aided by some reconciliatory words from their parents. As a reader, it seems abundantly clear that Mia is suffering from depression, and maybe alcoholism, neither of which can be “cured” by external factors like getting along better with your sister. To suggest otherwise is irresponsible, especially in a book aimed at young readers. I would hesitate to put it into the hands of teens without discussing the subtext that the book seems to ignore.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.