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Everything Is Fine
     

Everything Is Fine

4.6 3
by Ann Dee Ellis
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Leslie Greaves Radloff
This novel-in-verse is told from the first-person perspective of Mazzy as it examines how she comes to be the primary caretaker in her family's house. When her dad leaves for a job with ESPN, Mazzy's artist mom remains in her bed. She is curled, immovable, in a fetal position. The family is dysfunctional and silently crying for help, but Mazzy wants to believe that their problems will work themselves out. A kindly neighbor tries to help, but pride keeps Mazzy from opening up to her. The days drag on. Everything looks fine on the outside, but her mom sinks deeper into depression. Only when the reader is far into the story does the reason for the woman's withdrawal come to light: while hurrying to leave the house she had accidentally backed over her younger child, toddler Olivia, and caused the girl's death. Through this poignant and heart-rending tale, with believable characters, Ellis traces the effects of depression and death of a child on family members. The book ends on a ray of hope as the mother and father begin to talk about what has happened and recognize the talents of their older daughter. Reviewer: Leslie Greaves Radloff
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

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

Kirkus Reviews
Impressionistic, elliptical and full of feeling, this story about an overwhelmed youngster valiantly trying to cope with her mother's deep depression unfolds slowly, until readers finally grasp the terrible truth of the event that caused the breakdown of her once-functional family. Mazzy is trapped in a nightmare of guilt and helplessness. Her sportscaster father is off pursuing fame and fortune, leaving Mazzy stranded in the family's increasingly disorganized home with her nearly catatonic mother. Neighbors make sporadic efforts to help, but Mazzy, who is fiercely protective of her wounded-bird mom, once a talented artist and art teacher, does her best to hide the increasingly dire situation. Narrated in the first person, this tough but tender story gives a skewed child's-eye view of the situation. Although readers understand more than Mazzy, who begins creating her own artwork as an emotional release, much is left ambiguous, particularly the motivations of her otherwise engaged father. What Ellis makes crystal-clear is how the tsunami of mental illness can devastate everybody in its wake. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316013642
Publisher:
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
03/01/2009
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
HL460L (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 15 Years

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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Everything Is Fine 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book in the whole dang world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.