Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis (Advance Reader Copy)
New York: Little Brown and Company
Everything is Fine is due out in March, 2009. I received an ARC from a colleague who really enjoyed it, as did my teenage daughter.
I had mixed feelings about it. Everything is Fine is reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson's, Speak, in that the reader knows that something terrible has happened, but must suffer the pain of the protagonist as she comes to terms with the truth. The protagonist in this case is the adolescent Mazzy. In stark, first person, stream of consciousness chapters, Mazzy details her life at home alone with a severely depressed mother and an absent father,
When Dad found out he had to stay away longer than he thought, he found someone to bring us food.
She sometimes forgets. Her name is Lisa and she smells like hair spray.
She's Bill's friend who needed some extra cash.
She's supposed to come every week but sometimes she forgets. I feed Mom what's in the kitchen even though all she really wants is sorbet and Diet Coke.
Once I put SpaghetttiOs in the blender and gave it to her like a shake.
She threw it up."
If I had not just finished reading Waiting for Normal, perhaps I might have liked this book better. Waiting for Normal tells a similar, albeit less tragic story. Both books have a young female protagonist, an absent father figure, and a sickly, overweight, kindly, and helpful neighbor. Waiting for Normal is more hopeful, though - perhaps because depression is not its main focus. I'm sure it's difficult to write a hopeful book that deals with depression. Ellis has done a great job in trying, but this was not one of my personal favorites, although it is certainly well written. Everything is Fine should appeal to teen fans of contemporary realistic fiction.
I prefer juvenile lit to YA lit. I'm basically an optimist at heart, preferring a good laugh or an enlightening perspective to a walk through the depths of someone else's despair.
I'm ready for something funny. I can't wait for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw.