Title: All The News
Author: Hollis Bush
Date of publication: 3rd March 2020
Number of pages: 256
John Schram, reporter for the Lancaster Standard Newspaper, husband, and father to two boys, is feeling his age. His paper has hired consultants who seem too young to understand a newsroom and worse yet, have required the installation of low-flow toilets. He’s juggling multiple stories and because of layoffs is now tasked with writing a love advice column called Listening with Lily. He feels a little left behind and less astute than he should be with new technology and his fiftieth birthday is coming at him fast and furious. John wonders if he’s lost a step to the young reporters in his office.
His seventeen-year-old son is worrying him on the home front, as Justin has lost interest in playing baseball or his grades or college. He’s in some fights at school and after several meetings with teachers and guidance counselors, John still has little idea what is troubling the teenager. He does know that the tension and arguments are keeping him, and his wife, awake at night and worried throughout the day.
I am a huge fan of the TV show The Newsroom and something in All The News reminded me of it. Was it the eternal cost-cutting struggles? The characters fighting on both personal and professional sides? The uncovering of stories that keep you waiting, digging, searching for information until the thrill of discovery gave you the adrenaline shot you’ve been waiting for? Actually, it was all of it.
I first heard about All The News thanks to my wonderful friend Jonetta (check out her great review) and I knew I had to read the novel. I roll my eyes at today’s journalism, print or TV, and can’t resist stories offering me characters fighting for the name of the real vocation behind the ratings and numbers.
This is not a book in which a big splash triggers a series of events. This is a book about life being the news. John Schram is in his fifties, a husband, a dad, and a reporter for the Lancaster Standard Newspaper. While writing this, I hope most of you remember what a newspaper is… Anyway! Just like my remark, John feels a little out of it, growing old in a world where everything is now instant and sensational, or out the door. The arrival of consultants supposed to help the newspaper get new strategies to appeal to readers means layoffs, young faces who seem to know it all, and John becoming one half of the newspaper’s aunt Lily. Yes, you read that right. Those bits were probably my favorite, as they enhanced this constant need for answers (right or not), the eternal shift in the field, and gave John some of his wittiest and most hilarious lines!
John is a great character. He cares about his family and colleagues, and I really enjoyed the banter/fun/team friendships I got to discover. As one of the dinosaurs, John gets to choose to help a younger reporter or not give him the time of day. Oh, he is not Charming Perfect Prince, he is a normal man with his share of ups and downs. It was refreshing to see a protagonist take someone under their wing without having to be forced to do so by any outside factor. This is only one of the reasons why I was so invested in the book and John’s life. The surprises might not be the ones you find in a chilling psychological thriller, but they are here. Good and bad ones, like John’s son having a hard time that make waves in the family. John doesn’t have all the answers and he is definitely not a faded happy and nice idiot. He is a man wondering what life still has in store for him, a guy who is trying, a father hoping to decipher his teenager boy’s problems. No ‘twists’ doesn’t mean nothing happens. In fact, a lot happens. Days pass, threads of possible crispy big news are tugged at to reveal big secrets, in a slow and realistic way. I loved watching icebergs appear, having to follow the tiniest leads, and just witnessing the old and the new way of doing things collide to make good stories.
There is a lot to take from All the News. The book forces you to look closer at people and how they act instead of what they say. You can’t take anything for granted, as the story is told through John’s eyes, and John is not God, so his opinion taints the narrative and his humor colors the pages.
All the News is a well-rounded, well-executed shot at what happens in a newsroom. I can’t wait to read more of Hollis Bush’s work!
I would like to thank the author for sending me a copy of her novel. This review is my unbiased opinion. Thank you Jonetta for the book recommendation.
Hollis Bush was born in western Pennsylvania to two avid readers. There was not a room in her childhood home that did not hold a full bookcase. She has been writing all her life and is a voracious reader of a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction, particularly political and historical works. She writes historical romance set in the US and in Victorian England as Holly Bush, and General Fiction as Hollis Bush. She frequently attends writing conferences and has always been a member of a writers group.
Holly is a gardener, a news junkie, has been a member of her local library board, and loves to spend time near the ocean. She is the proud mother of two daughters and the wife of a man more than a few years her junior.