A family in crisis; a teen protagonist who’s real, normal, honest and interesting; a real-world drama with genuine characters, powerful emotions, and the sweet touch of hope—what more could a reader ask for? Privileged Irene moves out of town to stay at her grandfather’s farm while Dad tries to find a job and Mom tries to hold onto her way of life. But what about Irene’s way of life? Will she end up as a scholarship girl, a fish out of water amongst her friends? Or will she carve a new life for herself as she slowly learns to make new friends and trust new strangers? It’s easy to lay blame when crisis strikes a family, but events overtake Irene’s anger, and soon blame becomes irrelevant. You live the life you’ve been given, she learns, and the life she’s found has plenty to offer her. Soon the question’s not what will life throw at her next, but where will she make her stand. Beautiful descriptions bring the scenery of Yellowstone and New York to life. Convincing dialog backs up all the characters and their many relationships. Young love and old love bloom. Suspicions aren’t fact. And communication is as difficult for adults as for teens. Everything I Was follows Irene as she learns the new things she can be, and leads teen readers to recognize their complex lives aren’t really out of control, even when they fall apart. An honestly enjoyable, uplifting, fascinating tale of real-world people and real-world hope, this one's highly recommended.
Disclosure: The library was selling off some books and I liked the blurb on this one. I’m glad I bought it.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
After 13-year-old Irene's father loses his high-paying job, her family leaves their penthouse apartment and elegant life to spend the summer on Irene's grandfather's upstate New York farm. Appalled at first by what feels like a lifestyle descent, Irene gradually allows herself to appreciate new freedom--riding her bike wherever she wishes, smelling fresh dirt as she helps her grandfather pot plants, and finding new friends. Demas anchors this quiet, hopeful book in today's headlines of job loss and the surprisingly vital safety nets that support families. Her adult characters are multidimensional: her once powerful father struggles with depression, her glamorous mother fights to salvage her pride, and her charming grandfather falls in love with one of his customers. Irene and her friends are delightful, down-to-earth kids, including Jim, with whom Irene happily--and tentatively--explores first love. Never saccharine, this satisfying offering, with its solid storytelling and memorable characters of all ages, should please fans of Cynthia Rylant and Richard Peck. --Booklist, March 15, 2011