By Jo Knowles
Candlewick Press, 2012
Audience: Younger Teens
I read this one because of award buzz and high praise. I had to wait a while because it was ordered for our new library branch and none of the others had it. I wasn't expecting the book to have such a big tragedy in it - I probably wouldn't have read it if I had known. Tragedy isn't my style. I like to escape with my books, not dwell on sad things.
The best part was the narrator. I totally understood how she felt because her voice was so well-written. The relationships between the family members was very realistic, I think. Certain people tend to stick together more, it seems. I really felt for Holden. I wanted him to be more comfortable in the world, and I was super worried that Gray was older than what he said he was.
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.