Book Review: Everywhere Blue by Joanna Rossmassler Fritz

Title: Everywhere Blue

Author: Joanna Rossmassler Fritz

Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction/Novel in Verse

Number of Pages: 256

Rating: C+

Recommended?: No


Okay. I’ll keep this review relatively short because I don’t have that much to say, but I’m going to need to include spoilers to convey what I didn’t like about it. The main character’s family is music obsessed and her name (Maddie) is short for Madrigal. Her siblings’ names (prepare to cringe) are Aria and Strum- what is it with middle grade books and dumb-ass character names? Maddie plays the oboe and she has anxiety and OCD. She counts everything and gets stressed out with she doesn’t end up with an even number.

Which is a pretty standard portrayal of OCD-type behavior but I guess it’s true of some people. Maddie’s brother Strum and their dad fight a lot, because Strum’s an SJW worried about the environment and the dad’s a climate change denier (the book gets pretty heavy-handed with the climate change stuff, I felt like there were times where it overpowered anything else in the story.)

Then Strum straight-out disappears from his college campus and the family implodes. Mom cries constantly and gets distant. Dad gets even angrier. Aria drinks and stays out late. Maddie’s OCD gets worse. I wish the book had actually diagnosed her with OCD, which might help young readers who see parts of themselves in her. It stays very oblique though and although in a lot of cases this kind of thing works, I found it annoying.

The ending (*MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD*) made me mad. After three months of the family panicking it turns out Strum is alive and well, and just hitchhiking to Mexico because he was having a mental health crisis. Yeah, you read that right. He was gone for THREE MONTHES without calling anyone in his family, with them all thinking he was dead. What an asshole, right? And Maddie’s all like, ‘I hope Daddy can learn to accept Strum and be nicer to him.’

F that. Strum let his family think he was dead for three months, yet the dad (who admittedly seems like a jerk) is the portrayed as the main one who has to change his behavior. I get Strum was having ‘mental health issues’ (which the book is very vague about) but that doesn’t excuse the horrible way he acted. I don’t understand why the characters weren’t angrier at being psychologically toyed with and duped throughout the whole book by a selfish butthole.

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