All We Know of Love
  • All We Know of Love
  • All We Know of Love

All We Know of Love

3.3 11
by Nora Raleigh Baskin

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A boldly original tale about a girl who journeys through love and loss to find her mother — and discovers that everyone has a story to tell, including herself.

"I used to think that a person would not know who I was, not really know me, until they heard about my mother."

Four years, four months, and fifteen days ago, Natalie Gordon's

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A boldly original tale about a girl who journeys through love and loss to find her mother — and discovers that everyone has a story to tell, including herself.

"I used to think that a person would not know who I was, not really know me, until they heard about my mother."

Four years, four months, and fifteen days ago, Natalie Gordon's mother walked out mid-sentence, before she finished what she was going to say. Now Natalie is traveling twenty-four hours on a bus to Florida to find her mother, to find herself, to find out something about love. Along the way, Natalie struggles to understand her relationship with Adam, a boy she pines for with near-obsession, and to her surprise, she meets people with stories like her own, stories about giving love and getting lost in the desire to be wanted. Acclaimed middle-grade novelist Nora Raleigh Baskin makes her young adult debut with a deeply resonant novel about secrets held and secrets shared, about having the courage to uncover all we know — and don’t know — of love.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A poignant, daring tale about love. . . . I hesitate to use the word 'healing,' because it has so often been misused, but this adventurous tale truly deserves that description."
— Anita Shreve, best-selling author of THE PILOT'S WIFE — Anita Shreve, author of THE PILOT'SWIFE
Publishers Weekly

In her first YA novel, Baskin's (The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah) portrait of a teen questioning the meaning of love is as candid and alluring as her books for middle-grade readers. High-school sophomore Natalie Gordon embarks on a journey to find her mother, who abandoned her and her father more than four years ago. During her bus ride from Connecticut to Florida, Natalie recalls incidents from her childhood leading up to her mother's departure and mulls over her tumultuous relationship with an older boy, as well as her concern that she may be pregnant. Natalie meets a few people along the way-an elderly knitter, a mild-mannered hotel manager-and Baskin captures her protagonist's subtle progression from ignoring these people to opening up to some of them; vignettes about the strangers' lives drive home the universal need to be loved. These brief glimpses might leave some readers yearning to know more about these characters but, as Natalie realizes, even minor connections are what are important in life: "Even the temporary, even the transient, even the people who you are never going to see again but who exist because we need them to, because we are human." Ages 14-up. (Aug.)

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Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
The title of Baskin's beautifully crafted first young adult novel comes from a poem by Emily Dickinson: "That Love is all there is, Is all we know of Love." Fifteen-year-old Natalie does not think she knows much about love—her mother abandoned her "four years, four months, and fifteen days ago," and she is now in an obsessive relationship with a hip, unattainable boy who shows up for sex but walks away from anybody else's wants or needs. Natalie boards a long distance bus to travel from Connecticut to Florida in order to locate her mother and discover what she been trying to say on the day she left before Natalie interrupted her in mid-sentence: "I mean, Natalie, I want to tell you. I think you should understand this about, about love." Each chapter, preceded by a different gem of a quotation about love, weaves back and forth between scenes of Natalie's yearning about her past relationship with her mother and the disturbing current relationship with Adam, and her brief encounters with the people she meets on her trip. Baskin departs periodically from Natalie's own voice to offer haunting vignettes from the lives of these fellow voyagers, the walking wounded, marked in some way by their own search for love. Despite the irritating predictability of the trope of "the mother who leaves to find herself," the novel succeeds as a lovely meditation about what love is, why we seek it, and how sometimes it takes a long painful journey before we realize that we have already found it. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
KLIATT - Claire Rosser
Natalie's mother left home four years ago—a sad, lonely woman. Now that Natalie has had a love affair with a guy who doesn't see her for who she is, she decides to get on a bus south to Florida (from Connecticut) to find her mother. She needs some kind of closure in that relationship before she can love someone else, or love herself. She is worried that she might be pregnant. On the bus ride, she comes in contact with a series of other passengers, and each one has a story, so in a way, this is a collection of stories about people trying to understand what love is. The title is taken from an Emily Dickinson poem, "That Love is all there is, / Is all we know of Love." When Natalie does locate her mother, she finds a vulnerable woman trying to survive, a woman who does indeed love her daughter as much as she can. At the end of the journey, on the return home, we have some hope that Natalie indeed does have a chance to move on in her life, to love, to trust herself and believe she is someone worthy of being loved. It's a tender story of a broken mother-daughter connection that needs to be repaired. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
VOYA - Ashley Brown
All We Know of Love is the poignant story of Natalie, whose perception of love is deeply marred before she takes a trip to see the mother who left her. The stories of those Natalie meets on the way are told as well, revealing the different types of love that exist and leading up to Natalie's discovery of what love really is and isn't. Despite a great plot, the ending is almost too picture-perfect but makes the reader feel as if Natalie finally got what she deserved for once. Overall the book is an excellent read. Reviewer: Ashley Brown, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Alissa Lauzon
Four years, four months, and fifteen days ago Natalie's mother walked out mid-sentence and never returned. It was not until three days ago, however, that Natalie began to wonder about what her mother left unsaid. Natalie lies to her father, purchases a bus ticket, and sets out for Florida where she hopes to find her mother and learn what was so important about love that her mother wanted to say. Along the way, Natalie meets a variety of interesting people and struggles to overcome her obsession with her own insecurities and her on-again, off-again boyfriend, who does not treat her well. Baskin's novel is a well-crafted coming-of-age story that examines the meaning of love, and as Natalie discovers, the importance of giving love without giving oneself away. Baskin takes a familiar story line and examines it in a new and interesting way that will engage readers, especially those trying to come to their own understanding of love. The people Natalie encounters along her journey have side stories that reveal their experiences with love, which helps readers explore the different kinds of love. Female readers will connect with Natalie, especially her emotional vulnerability and her desire to be truly loved by her loser boyfriend. Reviewer: Alissa Lauzon
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

Natalie's mother left in mid-sentence. At least that is what Natalie remembers. Now four years, four months, and fifteen days later, the 16-year-old is traveling on a bus from Connecticut to Florida to ask her mother exactly what she had meant to say. The teen remembers that it was something about love, and, in her present predicament, she really needs to know. She is in a one-sided obsessive relationship with Adam, with whom she experiences her "ultimate passage into womanhood"; she has alienated her best friend; and her father thinks that she has gone skiing in Vermont. During the trip, Natalie encounters a variety of people with whom she briefly interacts, but who leave an impression on her. Their stories are inserted into the narrative as cameos, and she comes to understand that she can be loved for who she is-and not because she was a girl whose mother did not love her enough to stay. A moving coming-of-age story.-Sharon Morrison, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Durant, OK

Kirkus Reviews
Natalie's obsession with Adam, her glib sometime boyfriend, and the very real possibility of pregnancy compel her to take a 24-hour bus ride to Florida to find her missing mother and some answers about love. On the road, her path crosses those of others: people sitting next to her in diners, stations and bus seats. Baskin drops brief interludes, gorgeous vignettes describing the love experiences of fellow travelers, into each chapter, and readers will soon see striking similarities between Natalie's story and those of these strangers. Teens will wonder at this unusual, fascinating examination of human intersection and the myriad, imperceptible ways we relate to one another. Varied love verses head each chapter, prompting further introspection. The narrative keeps from straying too far into the metaphysical by sticking close to Natalie's unrelenting, self-destructive addiction to Adam; readers in the throes of compulsive infatuation will identify with her constant urge to check her cell for messages. Girls navigating relationships with boys, mothers, fathers and friends will gladly share Natalie's bus seat as she heads south. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 4.90(h) x 0.70(d)
NC660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 Years

Read an Excerpt

My mother was telling me something just before she left for good, taking nothing with her (as far as we could tell). Leaving behind everything she had ever bought, everything she had ever wanted, everything she owned or had ever been given.

And everything she had made: a lopsided clay bowl with the image of a tiny painted pineapple from her ceramic workshop days, a collage of family pictures cut in various sizes and shapes, pasted together and framed. She spent weeks on that. All the pressed wildflowers she had collected and laminated between sheets of clear plastic to last forever. And me.

Me, she left behind.

She walked out mid-sentence, before she finished what she was about to say.

It was a long time ago already, four years. Four years, four months, and fifteen days to be exact. And for four years, four months, and twelve days, I didn't think for one second about what she never finished telling me. I gave no thought at all to her unfinished sentence. I suppose it is like being in a car accident. You don’t think about something as trivial as the conversation you were having at the moment of impact. Not until weeks later, if at all. It comes to you in daydream one day as you are remembering the crash, that awful crumbling-metal noise, and if you begin to reconstruct the instant at all, it may not be for months, or in my case, years.

At first all I cared about was that she was gone. I wrote her letters. I made her Mother's Day gifts. When she had been gone sixteen months and seven days, I sewed her an orange dinosaur pillow in FACs class. I cried at night, and at sad TV shows, and, for some unknown reason, during first-aid filmstrips shown in gym class on rainy days. And then I stopped.

Because all things need to come to an end. Good things and bad things.

But then just recently I started to remember and I began to reconstruct. And wonder: if only I had let her say what it was she was about to tell me, would everything have been different? Would I be in this situation?

My mother stopped mid-sentence. She was in mid-thought, about to tell me something.

She was talking about love.

At the Stamford bus station, there is a little newsstand with chips and candy and gum, stuff like that. I should load up on snacks, I am thinking. I don't have anything I am going to need, except money, and not that much of that. The ticket was a hundred and twenty-six dollars, one way. When I called a few days ago to get the schedule, I found out how expensive the trip would be, and how long it would take. Twenty-four hours on a bus. I can't imagine that. I'll need some stuff to eat and drink, I guess. I should have made myself something at home, a sandwich or two, but I didn't think of it.

It's early. Way early, especially for a Saturday morning. It's not even seven thirty. And this kid working behind the newsstand isn't paying attention; he's reading a book. I've been standing here for a while. Sometimes the world reminds me of how invisible I am.

My dad tells me it's because my voice is too quiet, even when I'm shouting. He says it's loud enough, but the timbre's too soft, as if it were at a different frequency, like there's something wrong with it and nobody hears me.

"Excuse me," I say again, a second time. The boy who works at this newsstand is at that age. Not young, not old, so I don’t know how to address him, to get his attention. Mister? Kid?

Hey, you seems rude.

"Hello there," I try. "Sir?"


How stupid is that?

He looks up and smiles, like I just made a joke, when joking is the furthest thing from my mind. He is annoying me already.

"What can I get you?" he says. He lowers his book. I see he is wearing an orange T-shirt so faded its softness is almost visible. He hikes his jeans up over his skinny hips as he steps up to the counter. I see he is wearing a rope necklace around his neck, with one white shell that sits right in that spot, that little dip in a boy's neck that always seems a little too intimate to be looking at.

"Um . . . I’m not sure," I say, looking over everything, which all looks really unhealthy and fairly sickening.

"Stuff for your trip?" he asks me.

"Yeah." I nod. My trip.

"Where are you going?"

And when he asks me that, I know I am going to lie even before I open my mouth. Like I am trying it on for size, testing out my abilities.

"North Dakota," I say.

"North Dakota, huh?" He smiles.

This guy is flirting with me, I think. I used to like this, but ever since Adam flirting has taken on a whole new meaning. In a way, it's like I know what it means now. I know what can happen, and I don’t know what I want from it anymore.

"That’s a pretty long trip," he says.

I want to smile back, but suddenly I feel a wave of nausea. Maybe from looking at the candy, or from this older man, who comes up beside me and reeks of cigarettes. Or maybe it's something else entirely thatscares me even more.

"Forget it," I say quickly to the boy. "I don’t want anything."And I hurry away.
At least this is one of those big buses, the kind you get for really long, expensive school field trips. The kind with upholstered seats and little TV screens every few rows. But the screens are blank. So far the seat next to me is empty. I am doing a silent prayer that it stays this way all the way to Florida.

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A poignant, daring tale about love. . . . I hesitate to use the word 'healing,' because it has so often been misused, but this adventurous tale truly deserves that description."
— Anita Shreve, best-selling author of THE PILOT'S WIFE — Anita Shreve, author of THE PILOT'SWIFE

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All We Know of Love 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Tasha13 More than 1 year ago
Sorry, but this "acclaimed author" just didn't do anything for me. The book was a gift and I was determined to finish it. But I could barely get through it. I found it boring and uninspiring, there are so many other good books out there!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book silly and shallow despite the author's best attempts to make it heartfelt and touching. It was not. I would definitely not classify this novel as "young adult", it seems more suited to junior high readers and the author's literary limitations are made clear; she should stick with what she manages to produce, those forgettable gradeschool stories.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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wheeze More than 1 year ago
Natalie thought she knew love, but really it never happened for her. Her mom left out of the blue 4 years ago, leaving her with just her Dad. They get along, but can't really expect a perfect relationship. Over her school break, she decides to make a run for it, and to take the bus down to Florida, to see her mom. She wants to know why her Mom ran out, leaving her in the dust. Along the way, she meets some interesting characters, with their own stories of love. Even though the story had a good line, it felt boring at times. Short yet missing the information to make it a story to never forget. The love quotes on the top of each chapter were interesting to read though. Wont plan on rereading this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a tender story of a broken mother-daughter connection that needs to be repaired
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nora Raleigh Baskin jumpstarts the drama on page one, propelling the reader through until the very end. Baskin cleverly weaves a few glimpses into Natalie¿s past as she makes her journey, sharing the building blocks that have helped make her who she is, and uses the unique approach of slipping in whispers of the lives of those Natalie encounters along the trip. ALL WE KNOW OF LOVE is written in a heartfelt style that transports the reader deep into the very core of its characters. Baskin has created another wonderful story, which hopefully will be followed by many, many more.
--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman, author of FINDING MY LIGHT and THE BLACK POND
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Natalie Gordon is on a mission. Her mother walked out in mid-sentence four years ago, never to be seen again, and now Natalie is on a journey to find her.

She wants to know everything: why she is the way that she is, what her mother was saying about love just before she walked out the door, and, most importantly, why her mother left.

While on a twenty-four hour bus ride to Florida, she may just find some of the answers in the people she meets along the way, people just like her, people caught up in the ideas of wanting, of longing, and of what love truly means.

ALL WE KNOW OF LOVE is a poignant study of the depths and shades of love, and what love means to each different person. The format of the book works well to convey this sense of the universal nature of love by placing its narrator at the center of many unfolding stories. Natalie is a pensive narrator whose musings move readers to consider their own inferiorities, and as her life touches those of characters around her, we are treated to brief glimpses into others' life experiences.

In ALL WE KNOW OF LOVE, Nora Raleigh Baskin gives the reader a study in the nuances of love, and leaves her audience with a greater perspective and appreciation for the commonalities within us all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved ths book! It was so sweet! Everyone should read this one!