With her father off traveling for his new, very important job at ESPN 360, it is pretty obvious that Mazzy is in charge of the Roany household. Whenever anyone asks, Mazzy says everything is fine. It's the same answer for curious neighbors, Ms. Peet from Family Services, and even her dad. But it's not fine. No matter how much she tries, Mazzy can't get her mom to get out of bed. She just lays there. Mazzy talks with and encourages her, even brings her food, but nothing changes. Her father hired a nurse and someone to bring groceries to Mazzy and her mom.
When she's not taking care of her mom, Mazzy is spending time with Colby Dean, the boy next door. They have been friends forever and is the one person Mazzy can be herself with. Everything is changing.
Parent Perspective: *Contains spoiler*
It took me a little while to get into the author's writing style. It is a part narrative and part novel in verse, so the stream-of-consciousness thinking and flashbacks didn't always mesh neatly. I liked the artwork interspersed and actually wish they were more fully fleshed out illustrations. I found it difficult to connect Mazzy's description/emotion with what was pictured there.
While Mazzy is the heart of the story, what drives the plot is her mom's debilitating depression. There were plenty enough hints early on that the cause was the death of a child. Much later, we learn how Mazzy's sister Olivia is killed, but we don't really get a strong sense of her age. It is not all dark and depressing, and there are lighter moments. I like how Mazzy's relationship with Norma (adult neighbor) evolved because it taught her something about herself. Her relationship with Colby was the most normal thing in the book.
Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about the book. It has a hopeful ending, though there are a lot of loose ends. If you have a reader that likes Anne Tyler books, they would probably like this one. I don't see it as a book for a wide audience.
Readers who like first-person narratives and novels in verse will find Everything is Fine an interesting, appealing read.
The first part of the book hints at what the underlying cause of Mazzy's mother's condition: the accidental death of her young sister. Mazzy's efforts to help her mom, as well as the absence of her father may impact sensitive readers.
This is a first-person story about a girl trying to figure out life after the tragic death of her sister.
There are several parallel, related themes. The behavior of Mazzy's mother can be a discussion unto itself. These are additional themes for book talks.
- Is Mazzy dealing with her own grief about the death of her sister?
- Does Mazzy repair the relationship with her father and resolve the feelings of abandonment?
- What do you think about Mazzy's desire to look more mature?
12 and Up
12 and Up
Borrow. This could be a nice selection for a teen dealing with personal issues who wants to see someone like themselves. It will not appeal to everyone.