From the Publisher
“In a risky but successful style, Fischer... illustrat[es] Abby's lack of breathing space as she strains to hold herself together and move from one moment to the next.” Kirkus Reviews
“The author does a fine job of capturing Abby's point of view, from adolescent angst to denial then anger at her mother's-and family's-condition and finally all-out rebellion. And she does it in an interesting way.” Children's Literature
Abby is a teenager wannabe living during the early 1970's, a time of hula hoops, mini skirts, pedal pushers and TV dinners in aluminum trays. She hangs with her best friend, Poppy, puts up with her pesky little sister, Lisa, and looks forward to the day when she will be in high school. Oh, and one more thing: her family is disintegrating as a result of her mother's bizarre, suicidal behavior. The author does a fine job of capturing Abby's point of view, from adolescent angst to denial then anger at her mother'sand family'scondition and finally all-out rebellion. And she does it in an interesting way, which is with little punctuation not even quotation marks sometimes and lots of ands and you knows and eventually she or Abby have one long paragraph or stream of consciousness which would you know probably cause an adult reader or reviewer for that matter to come down with the kind of shakes you get when someone accidentally on purpose like scrapes her fingernail across a chalkboard kind of which a young adult reader would probably have little problem with you know what I mean. Even though the setting is decades past, the issuesfriendship, loyalty, helplessness, anger, fear, rebellion, shoplifting, suicide, teenage sex and pregnancy are contemporary. One quirky problem: the title escapes me entirely and could even be a turn-off. But in Abby and Poppy's slang, the book is a pretty good "readamundo." 2003, Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, Ages 13 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Abby's mother is acting decidedly strange-skinny-dipping in the neighbor's pool at night, smashing bathroom mirrors, not taking care of herself or her family-but the teen is reluctant to discuss her concerns with her father. The woman's bizarre behavior escalates until, after an attempted suicide, she is institutionalized for an extended period. In her absence, the household rules begin to slip and Abby is confused as to what is expected of her. When her mother finally returns home, she is a different person and Abby desperately wants her "real" mother back. Now 14, Abby starts dating a boy of whom her mother doesn't approve, sneaks out at night to meet him, and has sex. Meanwhile, her mother commits suicide. Told from Abby's point of view, the book is written in almost a stream-of-consciousness style. There is little punctuation and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between her thoughts and her dialogue. The novel is set in the late 1960s or early 1970s, but the only way readers can tell that is by references to the Vietnam War and some of the music that's mentioned. This sad story is truly a tragedy, not only for the mother, but also for the rest of the family members who never discuss the problem, support one another, or seek help. It may be useful as a tool for counselors working with people in a similar situation or as material for discussion.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Abby's life from 12 to 15 is tightly strung with immediacy as her mother slowly disintegrates. The family-homemaker Mom, typing-teacher Dad, younger sister Lisa-lives in a quiet California neighborhood during the Vietnam era. Mom lies down too often, and one day she smashes both bathroom mirrors. Her declining mental health leads to an intentional overdose of sleeping pills and a year away in a psychiatric hospital. When she returns, her smile and voice are unrecognizable. After a period of supposed stability, Mom tries again to kill herself, this time succeeding. In a risky but successful style, Fischer allows most of her paragraphs only one sentence before the next paragraph begins, illustrating Abby's lack of breathing space as she strains to hold herself together and move from one moment to the next. Abby "know[s] things no fifteen-year-old should know," but there are tiny bits of humor and human connection sprinkled throughout. (Fiction. YA)
Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from An Egg on Three Sticks by Jackie Moyer Fischer. Copyright © 2004 by Jackie Moyer Fischer. Published by St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved.
So I'm walking home from school by myself because it's Thursday which is my late day because of Girls' Glee Club after school which most other days I walk home with my best friend Poppy Cordesi who lives across the street and which her mom's divorced and no one knows where her dad is. I get to the top of our street which is a little hill and I look down on the ten houses, eleven if you count the Pierces' but they have their own private driveway which goes right out onto the highway. I look down at all the houses and they look normal as day but when I look at our house there's something different.
Not a big different, just a little different, almost like how toast smells a little different right before it burns.
I look at our dark brown house.
We have the only dark brown house on the street. Every other house is white or beige or pale green but ours is dark brown with red trim, whoever heard of that, plus the red is faded to icky pink and which I have one word for that: grossamundo.
Which is this sort of language Poppy and I made up but I'll get to that later.
I look at the dark brown and the icky pink, and something is not right. It's not just that our car is gone, which it is, and which it shouldn't be on a Thursday at four-fifteen. Everything looks weird, the sun and the sky and the clouds and it's too warm for April which by the way is my favorite month because I just had my thirteenth birthday last week so I am now officially a teenager which it's about time.
I walk down the hill and I tell myself I'm just making this up.
There's nothing wrong.ar
Except there's this thing in my stomach, this thing I get sometimes that I call the big clench only right now it's a little clench and I tell it to shut up, go away, there's nothing wrong.
I walk past the Sullivans' house, then past the five peach trees that belong to the Sullivans but we can pick peaches whenever we want because there's just Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan and they can't eat all those peaches by themselves and there are four of us, Mom and Dad and me and Lisa who's seven, but really it's more like three and a half people because Lisa is such a puny little thing and really more like three because Mom hasn't been eating much lately.
I get to our driveway and I stop and look at our front yard because even it looks weird.
The clench in my stomach gets clenchier but I tell it to shut up.
I tell myself it's just our plain old green lawn with the apricot tree and some flowers and six junipers along the fence, which Dad is threatening to take out the whole lawn and put in all junipers because he doesn't want to be a slave to that lawn anymore but then Mom always has to go lie down when he says that, but then she has to lie down a lot these days.
I get to our front walk and there's someone in our front window who is not Mom.
Which is weirdamundo.
Now I definitely have the big clench.
It's Mrs. Sierra in the window, Mrs. Sierra from next door who lives in a beige house with nothing but gravel for a driveway and who used to be a nurse with Mom in the olden days before Mom married Dad. Mrs. Sierra is this enormous woman with yellow skin who wears these tent dresses but is awfully, awfully nice, I mean you just have to like her because she's just so nice, plus you have to feel sorry for her because her son Jimmy is at this very moment over in Vietnam getting shot. I mean shot at.
Mrs. Sierra sees me and opens our icky pink front door and her little black eyes look at me all serious and concerned, and her forehead goes into a deep V and she says, Oh Abby, and her voice is so low and sad that the big clench in my stomach is turning into a very big clench.
Because even though I'm pretending to myself that I don't know what's going on, I really do.
No doubt about it.
I walk in and I say, Where's Mom?
Like I don't know.
Mrs. Sierra puts her big yellow arm around me and squeezes real tight and now I know for sure that something is wrong because it's one of those kinds of arm-hugs, the kind where there's something really, really wrong.
So now I know for sure, that thing I knew at the top of the hill.