Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Off the Shelf: “Everything Is Fine” by Ann Dee Ellis

I loved how this book was written. Such crisp prose. Sparse, yet intimate, with a clear and strong voice.

“Everything Is Fine” was written from the point of view of Mazzy, a young preteen who is coping with family tragedy. Her father is away on a new job, though one is given the feeling he is avoiding the drama at home. Her mother is a shell of her former self. Finding out what destroyed her is part of the mystery of the book.

Much like the peeling away of a lettuce, the story is told in parts. Some take place in the past, some in the present. Some relate to the tragedy, some give us a window inside the mind of this traumatized girl.

I felt the issues of depression were dealt with quite believably. I had a dark period in my life—never as catatonic as Mazzy’s mother but just as dysfunctional. The rest of the family really does need to pick up the slack. Some neighbors offered support and others cruel advice. This book was spot on. I believe it is a credit to Ellis’ writing that I was not made uncomfortable by the reading experience. I attribute this to the strong character found in Mazzy.

As the caretaker of her mother, Mazzy had a strength that belied her years. It stood in contrast with her social immaturity. Perhaps this would be my only criticism. Mazzy seemed too immature for someone thrust into that situation. Her age was not concretely detailed. She and her friends were interested in boys and boobs, but she acted as if she was eight at times. A daughter of mine read the book and had the same complaint.

That being said, I still admire this book greatly. The writing was compelling and I heartily recommend it. Depression can be debilitating, and some events in life can knock us on our backsides, but ultimately there is hope where there is a will to heal. I found that hope in this book, and for that I feel it is inspirational.