Publisher: Turner Publishing
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Seventeen-year-old Rose Hemmersbach aspires to break out of small town Sparta, Wisconsin and achieve her artistic dreams at Belwyn School for the Arts after she graduates. Painting is Rose’s escape from her annoying younger siblings and her family’s one rule: ignore the elephant in the room, because talking about it makes it real. That is, until the day Rose finds her mother dying on the kitchen floor of a heroin overdose. Kneeling beside her, Rose pleads with the universe to find a heartbeat. She does – but when her mother is taken to the hospital, the troubles are just beginning. Rose and her dad are left to pick up the pieces. Now all that matters are her siblings.
Rose doesn’t have room to do her schoolwork, let alone pick up a paintbrush. Until Rose is forced to do the homecoming mural with Rafa, a new senior at Sparta High. Rose and Rafa don’t have an ounce of school spirit between them, but Rose discovers her brain still has room to paint.
As Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams of the future start to slip from her grasp, she must face the question of what happens when – if – her mom comes home again. And if, deep down, if Rose even wants her to.
Sarah J. Carlson writes contemporary YA that delves into complex, real world problems. Professionally, she is a school psychologist who works primarily with a diverse, mostly low income population. Her professional focus is around supporting the success of children with behavioral and mental health needs and helping to promote resilience in children who have been exposed to trauma or toxic stress. Sarah lives outside Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two young children, and two energetic terriers.
Being a teenage girl isn’t easy for anyone, but especially for Rose Hemmersbach. She has more going on than any young person should have to deal with. For most high school seniors, just trying to survive their last year of high school and get into college. For Rose though, her home life is a mess, which bleeds into her school life and complicates everything.
From the beginning of this book, I was completely drawn into Rose, worrying about her and her family and wanting everything to be OK. The introduction of Rafa as the new friend and possible love interest added another level to the book that made me keep turning pages. I flew through Everything’s Not Fine and was sad when it was over.
Everything’s Not Fine is beautifully written. Going into Rose’s artistic mind, we see the world through mixed paint colors. We can smell Grammy’s cigarettes and Rafa’s shower gel. It’s also very clear that the author has great understanding of children and families in crisis. When Rose is falling asleep in class or imagining herself juggling all the balls she has in the air, I really felt for her. There was something very real about Rose and what she goes through. The combination of artistry and understanding made this a book that I couldn’t put down.