Spotlight & Excerpt: Everything's Not Fine by Sarah Carlson

Hi everyone! Today on the blog, we have a spotlight and excerpt for Everything's Not Fine by Sarah Carlson -- so without further ado, let's get into it!


49171884Title: Everything's Not Fine
Author: Sarah Carlson
Hardcover, 304 Pages
Publishing May 26th, 2020

Seventeen-year-old Rose Hemmersbach aspires to break out of small town Sparta, Wisconsin and achieve her artistic dreams at Belwyn School for the Arts after she graduates. Painting is Rose’s escape from her annoying younger siblings and her family’s one rule: ignore the elephant in the room, because talking about it makes it real. That is, until the day Rose finds her mother dying on the kitchen floor of a heroin overdose. Kneeling beside her, Rose pleads with the universe to find a heartbeat. She does – but when her mother is taken to the hospital, the troubles are just beginning. Rose and her dad are left to pick up the pieces. Now all that matters are her siblings. Rose doesn’t have room to do her schoolwork, let alone pick up a paintbrush. Until Rose is forced to do the homecoming mural with Rafa, a new senior at Sparta High. Rose and Rafa don’t have an ounce of school spirit between them, but Rose discovers her brain still has room to paint. As Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams of the future start to slip from her grasp, she must face the question of what happens when – if – her mom comes home again. And if, deep down, if Rose even wants her to.


At the kitchen table, Sage and Hollis shovel Lucky Charms into their mouths. Hollis sits up tall today, so you can really see the six inches he now has on Sage. Dad sets the milk and box of Lucky Charms in front of my bowl. Today, his tucked-in dusty-blue shirt accentuates his steel-blue eyes. His beer belly hangs over his John Deere belt buckle. 
“Rosey, had a dream last night you were the champ of the whole dart league. Won it with a pink dart.” Dad pops a mounding spoonful of cereal into his mouth. A dribble of milk runs into his blond five-o’clock shadow. He cuffs it away. 
“Pink? Ugh. Bet Travis and them would flip their shit if I used a pink dart,” I say. 
“Language, Rosey.” 
“Flip their crap just doesn’t work, Dad.” Lucky Charms clink as I shake some into my bowl. I get an unusually high ratio of pots of gold. 
He messes up my hair. 
“Stop.” I bat his huge oil-stained hand away. 
“Don’t think I can mess that hair up.” Dad shakes his hand out like something’s stuck to it, wearing a million-dollar grin that allegedly melted all the girls’ hearts senior year when he was voted “best smile.” “I swear you use Gorilla Glue.” 
I roll my eyes with a smile I can’t stop. 
“Pink’s the worst,” Sage spouts from behind the Great Wall of Cereal Boxes she’s constructed around herself in the epitome of eight-year-old orneriness. 
Violet bounds out of the bathroom. “No, pink’s the best!” she erupts with such conviction you’d think Sage said the sky was green. She jumps into her chair next to me. Judging by her pink nose, she’d been running around outside without sunblock again. Freckles speckle her cheeks. 
Mom and Dad’s bedroom door creaks open. Mom emerges, a shadow against the sun seeping through their curtains. She cuts through the muted light of the living room. A sheen of sweat glistens on her forehead, dotted with fresh red scars from picking. 
“Mommy!” Vi launches at her and crushes her slight frame into a hug. 
Even from across the kitchen, I can smell the stench of her dealer Jeremy’s secondhand smoke. 

“Hiya, Vi Pie.” Her voice has a slight slur. Mom’s fingers fumble into Vi’s lopsided pigtails. Her blue-green eyes have an unfocused glaze to them, and her pupils are practically the size of periods. Yup, she’s high.


Sarah  Carlson

Sarah J. Carlson writes contemporary YA that delves into complex, real-world problems. Professionally, she is a school psychologist with a professional focus around supporting the success of children with behavioral and mental health needs and helping to promote resilience in children who have been exposed to trauma and adverse childhood experiences. Sarah lives outside Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two young children, and an energetic terrier.

We'd like to thank Sarah for being awesome enough to reach out to us about this and for letting us share this excerpt! 

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