While I do love the cover of Everything is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis, I know that it might alienate certain readers who will take one look at it and decide that this isn’t a book for them. Your job as a booktalker is to take a book like this and show your audience that this isn’t a book that only white girls would appreciate. This book actually drills down into the very core of the teenage condition: it’s a book about family problems, and it’s a book about lying and keeping secrets.
Every teenager has experienced family problems. Every teenager knows how hard it is to keep a secret. Every teenager will be able to identify with Mazzy in this book, and they’ll wonder what they would do in her place.
If anyone asks Mazzy how she and her family are doing, Mazzy tells them that everything is fine. Even though it isn’t. Her mother stays in bed all day, sleeping and taking her pills and then sleeping again. Her father stays away from home. He told Mazzy that he’d be gone for a week, but he lied. He’s been gone a long time now. He calls once in a while to see how they’re doing, but Mazzy doesn’t like answering the phone. Because she doesn’t want to lie to him. She also doesn’t want to lie to her teachers, her neighbors, her friends, or the lady from Family Services. But Mazzy knows that if she tells the truth about what’s really going on at home that she might not have a home any more. So instead she lies to everyone. She tells people that her mother is working, or that she can’t be disturbed. She doesn’t tell them that her mother is upstairs, still in bed. Eating, sleeping, and taking her pills. Mazzy knows that they can’t keep this up forever. One of these days she’s going to have to let the lady from Family Services in, and she’s going to see that her mother can’t take care of them anymore.
And then what will they do?