Early on, in All I Ask, readers are alerted to the fact that the narrator is interested in different ways of being. We know that she has experimented with portraying herself from different angles online—literally and metaphorically—sometimes explicitly, always without revealing her face. This poses questions, from the start, about whether this is simply part of coming-of-age, testing different personalities, different versions of one’s burgeoning selfhood. Or whether this is indicative of a deeper deception.
It could go either way: it’s possible for even innocuous elements of life to inhabit both extremes on a scale. Like this: “Most of the clothes had been donated by old people, or more likely by their families after they’d passed away. It was all either really big or really small because of how people tend to shrink or expand at the end of their life.” Maybe, as we age, we inhabit more space, but perhaps we inhabit less. This kind of paradox remains unanswerable and it’s the process of questioning that matters more.
What I most enjoyed about All I Ask was the glimpse into everyday, ordinary life of a young woman in Newfoundland. Her concerns—about trust and reliability, about self-definition and independence—are universal and relatable. And even when not very much is happening, it was more than enough to maintain my interest.