Everything Is Fineby Ann Dee Ellis
Stuck at home caring for her severely depressed mother and abandoned by her father, Mazzy has only the day-to-day dramas of her neighborhood to keep her busy. But between flirting with the boy next door and worrying about the fact that she's flat-chested, Mazzy has to face the fact that her mom is emotionally paralyzed by a family tragedy. As readers delve into the
Stuck at home caring for her severely depressed mother and abandoned by her father, Mazzy has only the day-to-day dramas of her neighborhood to keep her busy. But between flirting with the boy next door and worrying about the fact that she's flat-chested, Mazzy has to face the fact that her mom is emotionally paralyzed by a family tragedy. As readers delve into the story, they'll eventually discover what it was that tore Mazzy's family apart, and they'll see what it takes to put it back together.
Despite its serious subject matter, Mazzy brings humor to the trying age of adolescence and gives readers just the kind of awkward, troubled, and endearing character they will gladly embrace.
Mazzy is fine. Her severely depressed, almost catatonic mother is fine-as long as Mazzy takes care of her and keeps neighbors and family-services investigators away. Her absent ESPN-host father is fine, though he's been gone a while and Mazzy doesn't feel like returning his calls. And the summer will be fine, as long as she can keep hanging out with Colby, her neighbor, and pursue her art. In spare prose verging on free verse, Mazzy tells her story, of her daily routines without parents, of her occasional interactions with neighbors-and of the tragic accident that recently killed her young sister and led to her family's breakdown. Ellis impressively captures the voice of a sardonic, damaged, but surviving adolescent girl. Secondary characters are fleshed out well through Mazzy's pointed descriptions and snappy dialogue, and Colby shines with humor and a personality that rings true. Readers are given glimpses into the family Mazzy used to have, and the girl she once was. Although the ending seems hasty and perhaps unrealistically optimistic, Ellis has created a unique snapshot of family tragedy that's refreshingly devoid of melodrama.-Riva Pollard, Prospect Sierra Middle School, El Cerrito, CA
Meet the Author
Ann Dee Ellis received her MA from Brigham Young University and her debut novel This is What I Did: received three starred reviews. She lives with her husband and two sons in American Fork, UT. You can visit her online at http://www.anndeeellis.com/.
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Best book in the whole dang world.
Mazzy's family has fallen apart. A tragedy almost too horrible to imagine has broken down communication and left the remaining family members drifting in different directions. Mazzy's father left on a business trip months ago and never returned. He tries to communicate by phone, but Mazzy can't seem to form the words that need to be said, so most of the time when he calls she hangs up. Mazzy's mother is gone in a different sense. She stays in her room and in her bed, not moving or saying a word. Her body is there, but her mind has gone to a place not even Mazzy can reach. When outsiders like Norma, the neighbor, or Mazzy's best friend, Colby, ask how things are going, Mazzy's response is always the same: "Everything is fine." But nosy Mrs. Peet, the government lady, knows things are anything but fine. She threatens to intervene, but it will take more than a social worker to fix what's wrong with Mazzy's family. Ann Dee Ellis takes readers inside the mind of a young girl to tell the story of a family crisis. She uses prose only a hair away from being verse, and it is the perfect choice to illustrate Mazzy's tenuous grasp on reality and life at the moment. I found myself captivated by her desire to create a peaceful world for herself and her mother by avoiding the truth. Despite the tragic tone set right from the beginning, the character of Mazzy radiates a hope and determination that amazed me.