Title: Really, Truly, Everything’s Fine
Author: Linda Leopold Strauss
Marshall Cavendish Publishing, 2004
In Linda Leopold Strauss’ YA novel, Really, Truly, Everything’s Fine, the sins of the father are unexpectedly visited on a bewildered teen daughter just when she thought that all was picture-perfect in her quiet suburban world. Although she’s not so innocent as to believe that her parents’ marriage was made in Heaven, the young heroine has nonetheless put her father on a pedestal and is, thus, shocked beyond words to learn he has engaged in criminal behavior. Strauss’ title choice is a good one in that it aptly reflects what I believe people of all ages try to tell themselves when life has served them a less than idyllic situation. Not only must Jill weather the embarrassment of facing her peers at school, the annoyance of well-meaning teachers and neighbors trying to counsel her, and the ongoing frustrations of dealing with her unhinged mother but also the challenges of trying to protect her clueless little brother. Add to this mix a strange new friend whose path might never have crossed Jill’s if the latter had not begun to see herself as a kindred outcast rather than one of the “cool” kids who has everything under control. My only criticism of this book is that professional intervention came along much later than it should have. Nonetheless, it’s a good read for mother-daughter book clubs because of the discussions that its core themes about confidence, integrity and personal responsibility will generate.