Everything I Was

Everything I Was

3.5 9
by Corinne Demas
     
 

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"My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall."

So begins Irene's journey from an Upper West Side penthouse to—well, she's not entirely sure where. Irene's father, a corporate VP, is "downsized" when his company merges with another. When he can't find work, her family's lifestyle

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Overview

"My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall."

So begins Irene's journey from an Upper West Side penthouse to—well, she's not entirely sure where. Irene's father, a corporate VP, is "downsized" when his company merges with another. When he can't find work, her family's lifestyle—and her mother's spending—quickly catches up with them. Eventually, they're forced to move in with Irene's grandfather in the family farmhouse upstate. But what begins as the most disastrous summer of Irene's life takes a surprising turn, and Irene must decide what she wants for herself after losing everything she was.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Thirteen-year-old Irene's world is turned upside down when her father loses his job as an investment banker because of a merger. Her penthouse lifestyle in New York City's Upper West Side is over. Despite her socialite mother's protests and denial about their financial situation, the family put their belongings in storage and move upstate into Irene's grandfather's farmhouse. At first Irene is skeptical and resentful, but she quickly warms up to helping her grandfather in the greenhouse, exploring the cozy barn and making new friendships with a charming family with five kids who live down the road. But Irene's mother is still determined to return to the city, and the question remains: if and when the time comes, will Irene want to go back to her former life? Having written for picture book, middle-grade, and adult audiences, Demas's first book for teens presents an authentic if occasionally precious and melodramatic portrait of country life, economic stress, and the tensions associated with a major life change. Irene's budding independence and inner strength add greatly to this absorbing coming-of-age tale. Ages 11�16. (Apr.)
ALAN Review - Laura Hermann
Thirteen-year-old Irene is shocked when financial troubles force her parents to sell their Manhattan penthouse and move the family to her grandfather's farm for the summer. As she struggles to fit into her new surroundings, make new friends, and negotiate a relationship with her demanding mother, Irene begins to rethink many of the things she has always taken for granted. Eventually, she must choose between everything she was, and everything she is realizing she needs. In Everything I Was, Demas presents a likeable narrator trying to negotiate friendships, family, and first love. Although Irene's social class sets her apart from many readers, her concerns are universal, and she comes across as relatable and accessible. Readers will likely find themselves on her side as she comes of age in this earnest novel. Reviewer: Laura Hermann
Children's Literature - Mary Bowman-Kruhm Ed.D.
The cover of a young girl with her head above water well symbolizes the plot of this novel. When Irene's father loses his job, the family moves to the grandfather's farm north of New York City and, with it, loses their expensive Manhattan lifestyle. Irene and her father are willing to adapt but her mother's snobbish behavior and spendthrift ways that kept the family from saving during good times are an irritant to Irene, her father, and grandfather. Told in the first person, Irene feels everything has gone wrong in her life until a large, casual family living near her grandfather soon welcomes her friendship and she learns that quality of life means more than material possessions and a prestigious private school. Her father and grandfather support her decision to live with her grandfather during the next school year and, in that way, take control of her own life, since the alternative her mother insisted on was moving with her parents to an expensive but cramped apartment. The mother, whose selfishness and desire to control have been a continuing thread throughout the book, seems to acquiesce and change her pattern of behavior too readily. However, the other characters are realistically portrayed and Irene's story should resonate with many teens whose families suddenly face difficult economic struggles. Reviewer: Mary Bowman-Kruhm, Ed.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 6�8—Irene's life is turned upside down when her father loses his high-paying New York City job. Her mother's desire to keep up appearances at times confuses Irene as she tries to understand just how bad the situation is. Eventually, their Upper West Side lifestyle is just too expensive to maintain, so the family leaves the city for Irene's grandfather's farm in upstate New York. Out in the country, Irene begins to thrive, making friends and building a strong relationship with her grandfather—the only adult she feels truly listens to her. While the issues in this book are relevant and reflective of true teen experiences, its audience is hard to pin down. Irene is 13, yet her developing relationship with Jim, the boy next door, and the inclusion of a few expletives might not be suitable for some younger readers. The overly dramatic attitude Irene displays while trying to wrestle with all the changes in her life might seem too juvenile to some readers. In areas where many children are experiencing a similar downsizing in their family's lifestyle, this book could find its niche with readers who can identify with the protagonist.—Amy Commers, South St. Paul Public Library, MN

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780761390114
Publisher:
Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2012
Pages:
209
Sales rank:
1,471,731
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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