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Everywhere Blue

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A brother's disappearance turns one family upside down, revealing painful secrets that threaten the life they've always known.

After twelve-year-old Maddie's older brother vanishes from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. Nothing will fill the void of her beloved oldest sibling. When her parents fly out to Strum's college to search for answers, Maddie is left in the care of her sixteen-year-old sister, who seeks solace in rebellion and ignores Maddie. Drowning in grief and confusion, the family's musical household falls silent.

Though Maddie is the youngest, she knows Strum better than anyone. He used to confide in her, sharing his fears about the climate crisis and their planet's future. So, Maddie starts looking for clues: Was Strum unhappy? Were the arguments with their dad getting worse? Or could his disappearance have something to do with those endangered butterflies he loved . . .

Scared and on her own, Maddie picks up the pieces of her family's fractured lives. Maybe her parents aren't who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting mean she needs help. And maybe finding Strum won't solve everything--but she knows he's out there, and she has to try.

First published June 1, 2021

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About the author

Joanne Rossmassler Fritz

2 books28 followers
Joanne Rossmassler Fritz has worked in a publishing company, a school library, and an Indie bookstore. Joanne started writing in school, but didn't get serious about it until she survived her first brain aneurysm rupture in 2005. She joined SCBWI and kept writing. Her second brain aneurysm rupture in 2017 was worse than the first, but she persevered. Her debut MG novel in verse, EVERYWHERE BLUE, is out now from Holiday House. RUPTURED follows 11/14/23.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 96 reviews
Profile Image for Alysa.
Author 3 books94 followers
April 15, 2021
Lyrical, musical, and heart-wrenching, EVERYWHERE BLUE is a moving portrait of a family coming apart after a loss, and a 12yo girl's quest to keep her heart together.

This beautiful novel in verse begins when Maddie's older brother, Strum-- and her closest ally in the family-- goes missing. With her parents fully consumed by the search and her older sister finding refuge in a rebellion of her own, Maddie is largely left to her own devices to work through her sense of loss, and to try to hold on to hope.

Music is threaded throughout the novel-- in the character's names, in the section titles, and, most importantly in the writing. With sweeping verse and an MC who is bravely determined and wise for her years, the book is a journey through the valley of loss and out the other side.

Fritz's debut novel reads like a concerto to love, family, loss, and the very real urgency of the climate crisis and will make an important addition to any classroom and library collection.

Thank you to Holiday House and Edelweiss+ for the Arc.
Profile Image for Katia.
Author 2 books46 followers
June 27, 2021
While I used to love verse novels and middle grade, I'll be honest, that's not where my brain and heart are at the moment. Right now I want gritty, adult, dark YA, or laugh out loud funny. I want thrillers and weird and spooky and dizzying sci fi.

And yet. This book managed to STILL go ahead and sneakily make its way straight into my soul. This little book did everything a verse novel was supposed to do. It was a song, yet also a story. It was deep and complex, with no easy answers, just like life. Yet, it was also a super quick read. The voice feels light and modern. The novel delves into mental health and family dysfunction in a realistic manner, with a light touch, but without making light.

If you are a kid who cares about the environment, ask your school library for this. If you are a middle school teacher or any kind of a librarian, get this beautiful piece for your collection now.
Profile Image for Sam Subity.
Author 1 book46 followers
April 4, 2021
This novel-in-verse powerfully explores family, belonging, and loss when the main character's older brother simply disappears one day without a trace. I particularly loved how Madrigal's emotions played out as an orchestra in her head as she struggles to deal with ensuing events, using music to attempt to cling to some semblance of order as she feels her life and family coming apart. Part mystery, part coming-of-age, and all heart, I know readers will race through the pages like I did as the story builds toward a crescendo.
Profile Image for Cherlynn | cherreading.
1,565 reviews768 followers
November 9, 2021
Even though this novel-in-verse seems centered on the sudden disappearance of the protagonist's brother, I found it to be a beautiful coming-of-age story. The writing is lyrical, the character development is solid, and I really enjoyed the themes.

It was interesting seeing how different people in Maddie's family reacted differently to the disappearance. Honestly, I felt like everyone in the family was very selfish: Strum for running off without a word, Aria for acting out, their parents for neglecting Maddie.

Of course, all of these is understandable, considering the circumstances.

I would definitely recommend this quick but wonderful read!
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 3 books394 followers
March 16, 2021
Madrigal “Maddie” Lovato’s well-ordered and carefully routinized world is shattered when her older brother disappears, leaving her to handle her own despair alone as her parents become consumed with the search, and her sister retreats into late nights with friends. Coping through both music and climate crisis advocacy with her peers, Maddie begins to make painful but necessary realizations about her family, and about her own need for help.

Joanne Rossmassler Fritz’s EVERYWHERE BLUE quite literally sings. I read this book in a single sitting, unable to turn away from the beautiful music of this story. There are musical references throughout this lyrical novel in verse, from the names of the characters (Madrigal, Strum, Aria) to the musical terms suffusing the story with light, warmth, and hope. Prestissimo. Staccato. Adagio. Discord. It’s all just gorgeous and heartbreaking. Maddie’s voice is so unique and so compelling. She will draw readers in and keep them turning pages as she begins to unravel the mystery of her brother’s disappearance and to recognize – with such poignancy – both her family’s needs, and her own.

Thank you to Holiday House and Edelweiss for the eARC.
Profile Image for Nicole Lesperance.
Author 4 books164 followers
October 6, 2021
This is an incredibly beautiful, poignant novel in verse. The main character, Maddie, is a sweet, sensitive soul whose brother goes missing and whose entire life is thrown into turmoil as a result. Her parents are spiraling, her sister keeps running off and getting into trouble, and Maddie often feels like she's clinging to a rock in the middle of a stormy sea. She sees the world in such a uniquely musical way, and her anxieties about life and her own music play off each other in a complex and powerful way. This is a quiet book, in the best possible way. It's both gentle and deeply emotional, realistic and dreamy. Definitely sad and heavy at times, but balanced with a sense of lightness in all the right places. I loved it.
Profile Image for Tammy.
473 reviews1 follower
March 13, 2023
A tragedy strikes Maddie’s family, as this story opens, when her older brother, Strum, disappears from his college campus without a trace. From this point forward, the story is propelled by the family trying to come to terms with Strum’s disappearance and the impact it has on each family member. Mom goes off to the campus to try and help search, dad eventually joins. Older sister, Aria starts to get into some trouble, and Maddie struggles with OCD tendencies and trying to connect to her family when she feels abandoned and completely alone.

The verse in this story is beautiful, lyrical, and musical but I didn’t always like the characters or where the story was headed. I felt the most empathy for Maddie, just trying to connect with her family and missing her brother. I had a hard time with everyone else. I’m not sure if it was the author’s intention, but I felt angry with Strum for a good portion of this book.

So many important concerns were brought up in this story: climate change, inter-generational communication gap/ dysfunctional family dynamics, and mental health are some. Through everything, I admired Maddie’s resilience and love for her family.
Profile Image for Alexis.
659 reviews
June 6, 2021
Thank you Holiday House, Edelweiss, and Joanne Rossmassler Fritz for sharing this book with me for a review! I chose this book for two reasons-I kept hearing about it on Twitter and it's a book in verse. This book will grab you in IMMEDIATELY and you won't be able to put it down. Honestly, coming up with only three things about this book is really hard because there is so much. There is grief, family, siblings, friendships, music, climate change, young activists, and more. But, I here we go.
3 things about Everywhere Blue:
1-Book in verse
2-Sibling love

I hope you check this book out because it is amazing.
Profile Image for Ellen L. Ramsey.
290 reviews
June 13, 2021
Word Music!
This lyrical novel in verse pulls you in from the opening chords, sustains you as Maddie struggles with brother’s disappearance, her older sister’s indifference, and her parents’ abandonment. The story ends with the perfect finale for a novel about the power of music, friendship, and love, and about the ability of a fractured family to reunite. Maddie’s story is one I will always carry in my heart.
288 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2021
Perfect book for me! Novel in verse, family, friendships! Maddie’s quest to find her missing brother and teen life in general! Loved it - can’t wait to book talk it up in the fall to my sixth graders!
Profile Image for Laura Melchor.
Author 2 books30 followers
May 22, 2021
What a gripping book! I finished it in one day because I could not put it down. Maddie's story instantly draws readers in with the mystery of her older brother's disappearance and the way it cracks her family apart.

But over the course of the novel, Maddie peels back the layers of her family and we learn the cracks were already there. In many ways, Strum's disappearance forces the family to confront their differences and learn to accept each other for who they are.

In addition to the gorgeous, immersive poems, I loved the way Fritz weaves in themes of environmentalism and mental health. As an OCD fighter, I can so relate to Maddie's struggles. I highly recommend this beautiful book. Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss+ for an eARC.
Profile Image for Chad Lucas.
Author 4 books73 followers
May 20, 2021
I didn't want to put down this lyrical novel in verse about 12-year-old Maddie and her family's struggles after her big brother walks away from his college campus and disappears. The characters are so well-developed and human, and the family's fault lines feel so relatable and heartbreaking. Music fills every page of this book. Everywhere Blue will stick with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Cliff Burke.
Author 2 books36 followers
June 1, 2021
Within the first few pages I was immediately transported to autumn evenings practicing the saxophone, cracking a reed, and hoping I had another one so I didn’t have to coax my grandma into buying another box.

This is an often sad, incredibly real story of a shy, anxious 7th grader who wishes she was better at the oboe, closer to her siblings, and able to control the many changes her family undergoes in the year of the story.

It touches on environmental anxiety, the pain of watching older brother and sisters turn into adults (and not the kind of adults you’d prefer), and trying to find peace inside swirling insecurity. The poetry is vivid, varied, and places you directly inside the mind of the main character, Maddie, as she moves towards small and large triumphs.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
April 4, 2021
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

This character-driven novel in verse filled with musical references is the story of a girl whose older brother goes missing and leaves his family disconnected and out of tune with each other. Each family member reacts Strum’s disappearance differently, but 12-year-old Maddie is closest to him and feels his absence intensely. Maddie also has to deal with her older sister’s estrangement, who reacts to Strum’s disappearance with late nights and impatience toward Maddie. When Maddie’s parents become preoccupied with finding Strum, she is left to deal with her fears, anxiety, and questions about Strum’s whereabouts on her own.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to read a middle grade book where the main character plays the oboe! As a former oboe player, I loved googling the music that Maddie played and listening to it while reading those sections in the book. I also loved the novel in verse format and the four parts with musical terms related to the plot. The writing was lyrical, especially when describing the seasons to a rhythm. I could relate to Maddie looking for number patterns and craving order to keep her anxious thoughts at bay. I also liked the environmental advocacy theme and its role in the story.

I would recommend this story for Gr. 5-7.
Profile Image for Jessica Vitalis.
Author 3 books147 followers
April 27, 2021
This is a lovely novel in verse that begins when Maddie's older brother walks away from his college campus, leaving his family without any clue to his whereabouts. Maddie is a wonderfully earnest main character who clings to even numbers and her oboe to feel safe. As the story progresses, we see her struggle to process her pain without letting it destroy her friendships or her family, although there may not be anything she can to do fix her broken relationship with her older sister, whose anger is creating chaos in Maddie's orderly world. We're also treated to her awakening awareness of her brother's obsession with climate change––and her father's determination to deny it. This book is short and the mystery of Maddie's missing brother is enough to keep us turning the pages, but it also delivers a powerful and much-needed message about environmental advocacy, along with the opportunity for the main character (and readers) to learn a thing or two about self-advocacy.
Profile Image for Melanie Dulaney.
1,375 reviews66 followers
August 8, 2021
What a perfect book for readers of middle grade lit who love novels-in-verse (NIV), sad/happy heart-warmers, and/or music. Author Fritz combines poetry and music with a story of loss, dysfunctional family, and hope for help like a composer weaves the voices of different instruments into a magnificent symphony. Maddie/Mad/Madrigal has used counting and organization as coping tools for her extreme anxiety, but when her older brother disappears from college and their family begins to come apart, things get even more difficult. Fritz’s NIV format, Maddie’s efforts on the oboe, and the musical terms that are incorporated intensify the emotion and passion felt not only by Maddie, but her parents, sister, and her friend Emma. Key to the plot is climate change and the positive effects that school aged youths can have on the environment. Basically, Everywhere Blue has something for everyone from grade 4 and up with no profanity, sexual content, or violence. Representation: Maddie’s mom is French, school friend Nico presents as Hispanic, and Maddie’s best friend Emma is Chinese-American.

Thanks for the print ARC, Holiday House publishing.
Profile Image for bjneary.
2,383 reviews80 followers
August 4, 2021
Thanks to Donna Compton for recommending this awesome middle grade debut novel in verse! In a musical family each child has an interesting name Madrigal (our protagonist), Strum her older brother who worries about climate change, butterfly depletion, being a meat eater and Aria her older sister who now ignores her. Both parents have fostered this love of music, but was it their love of the music? When Strum vanishes from college, Maddie's family is devastated, why would he do that? The reader soon learns much about this family, the good and the bad, but it seems as they become teens both Strum and Aria have problems with their parents rules, wishes, and it is Strum who leaves each sibling an email which really does not explain much to Maddie. With the investigation going full steam ahead, her parents fight more, her mother is totally devastated, and Maddie is full time trying to figure out what happened to her brother. Will they find him? This is a a gripping novel told from the 12 year old POV and it is a tale of her journey as well---she loves even numbers while odd numbers spell bad luck, does she have more compulsions? Maddie may know more than anyone about Strum, will she be able to help them find Strum. What an awesome book, all readers should devour this one; highly recommended!
Profile Image for Milton Public Library.
495 reviews11 followers
June 23, 2021
When Maddie's brother, Strum, vanishes from his college campus, her life seems to shatter. Strum used to tell her everything, but now he's missing, and she wonders if things will ever be the same again. This novel in verse is a quick read that weaves together music, environmental issues, family, and friendships.

Find it today: https://ent.sharelibraries.info/clien...

Jayme A. / Milton Public Library #CheckOutMPL
Profile Image for Eric Fritz.
302 reviews9 followers
June 8, 2021
An amazing debut novel, and I'm not just saying that because I share a last name with the author. The poetry is moving and Maddie's story is both intense and heartwarming.
Profile Image for Steph.
4,483 reviews48 followers
July 26, 2021
Joanne Rossmassler Fritz’s Everywhere Blue is a novel in verse about family, fear, forgiveness, & courage. This is a one-sitting read and I highly recommend this #mglit.

And loved this line: “Adults are like a foreign country.” Oh… how young readers will relate to that one!
Profile Image for Halli Gomez.
Author 3 books22 followers
May 18, 2021
I was thrilled to get an early copy of this beautiful middle grade novel. This story gripped me from the cover, which brings out all parts of the story in haunting detail. From the instruments to the butterflies, and solitary figures, it is intriguing and will get the attention of both kids and adults.

The story itself is beautifully written in verse and flows lyrically, like the music that is woven throughout. Maddie’s family is a musical family, from their names to their activities, and is a prominent part of the story. Maddie struggles with finding the feeling behind her music, which becomes even more difficult when her brother disappears.

I loved everything about this book. The realistic relationship between Maddie and her family, especially her older sister. I love the friendship between Maddie and her best friend and that it’s not perfect every moment. In fact, the characters in this novel are so well developed, it is clearly their story as well. In addition to Maddie’s relationships, this novel covers several different subjects in great detail. Climate crisis, school subjects, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety. Just as she does with each character, these topics are fully developed from beginning to end.

I highly recommend this book. It’s perfect for classrooms and home libraries.
Profile Image for Jaime Berry.
Author 3 books35 followers
August 19, 2021
This powerful and gripping novel in verse will grab you from the first page and not let go. Lyrical, breathtaking prose drive this heartbreaking tale of a family struggling to find their footing after a tragedy. Maddie is a main character I won't soon forget and her story will stay with me for a long time to come.
Profile Image for Sirah.
1,176 reviews8 followers
March 27, 2023
Madrigal took up the oboe when her older brother, Strum, suggested that a particular musical piece was his very favorite. Years later, he disappears, and Maddie's only hope of getting him back is to play the piece perfectly in her school recital. But while Maddie is doing her best, the rest of her family seems to be falling apart, and soon Maddie is left wondering if everyone is going to leave and if her obsessive counting will be enough to bring them all back.

This story is told in free verse that sometimes makes it feel lonely and melancholy and other times warm and thoughtful. The themes of climate change and mental health are woven carefully throughout the story to create a heartbreaking realization that leaves lots of room for healing and hope. I loved the musical references throughout this book.
Profile Image for Bonnie Grover.
787 reviews8 followers
July 6, 2021
When twelve-year-old Maddie’s older brother goes missing from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. As Maddie tries to solve the mystery of whether his disappearance is related to arguments with their dad or his compulsion with the climate crisis, painful family secrets come to light. Maybe her parents aren’t who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting means she needs help. This beautiful novel in verse addresses some of the issues of today’s youth- climate change, inter generational discourse, and anxiety. “Sometimes all you need to do is keep quiet and listen. And you will hear deep inside yourself the tiny whisper of truth.”
I think this definitely has a place on middle-grade shelves for many reasons.
Profile Image for Kimberly Sabatini.
Author 1 book374 followers
September 5, 2022
So many feels, reading EVERYWHERE BLUE by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz 💙 It is a stunning debut novel and must be on my list of #poppinspicks

This novel in verse created the butterfly effect inside of me. With the gentlest flap of wings and its musical, poetic words—I was moved and changed for having read it. Maddie and her story beautifully illustrates the moment in time where the safety of routine collides with out-of-control chaos, creating a chrysalis that hatches something new and different. Everyone should be reading this novel.

Profile Image for Sandy Brehl.
Author 8 books131 followers
September 1, 2021
This novel in verse reveals a single Point of view, framed by a sensitive, somewhat OCD middle grade girl within a family filled with love and angst. The driving incident is the disappearance of her college age brother, but it is very much Maddy’s inner workings within a family of tightly-wound individuals, all of whom have their own obsessions and coping mechanisms.
Well written poems, with a compelling story line.
Valuable for readers of many types.
Profile Image for Kip.
Author 14 books218 followers
August 27, 2021
Such a lovely novel-in-verse! Perfect for middle-grade readers undergoing big changes at home or school.
July 8, 2021
When Maddie’s older brother Strum disappears, her rule-bound life becomes chaotic. Maddie wonders whether Strum’s disappearance had to do with his fears about climate change or his conflict-ridden relationship with their father. But as trouble in Maddie’s family becomes apparent, and as her obsessive-compulsive symptoms worsen, Maddie learns that there might be more to solving her and her family's problems than just finding Strum. I should disclose that the author of this story, Joanne Rossmassler Fritz, is a fellow book blogger whose book debut I was quite excited for—but I want it to still be clear that I genuinely loved this novel in verse, regardless of my familiarity with its author. Maddie is a compelling protagonist for this novel—despite stress, she really does rise to challenges despite her fears, standing up for what she believes in and even for what she herself needs to thrive. As someone with diagnosed OCD, I can confirm that Maddie’s obsessive-compulsive symptoms are depicted thoughtfully and realistically. Music is interwoven into this story in many ways, from Maddie’s own life as a dedicated oboe player to her family’s musical interests and even references to classical music pieces and terminology throughout the story. Climate change is also a theme of the story—not only was Strum deeply concerned by it before he disappeared, but Maddie learns more about the issues and what individuals can do. This book’s exploration of family is also quite powerful—the book explores what happens when conflict and bitterness begin to take over both the individuals and the relationships in a family, and what happens when this goes on for so long that it seems like nothing can be done about it. On that note, I loved Maddie’s sister Aria in particular, both because she ultimately grows in some really meaningful ways and because she acts as a thoughtful depiction of how sibling relationships can be strained or changed as people grow and develop. Fritz’s truly beautiful verse, most of which is free verse but some of which is packed into formats like the villanelle, adds an enormous amount of feeling to this novel.

Click here to see my full review of this book on my blog!
Profile Image for Linda .
3,704 reviews42 followers
March 1, 2022
This is the Cybil's winner this year in poetry.
Everywhere Blue by Joanne Rossmassler Fritz, a novel in verse, brings the story of a family’s complexities as the youngest of the family, Maddie, begins with her favorite kind of day, “a symphony of sameness”. That day does not stay. It is the day she learns that her brother, away at college, has gone missing.

Through ups and downs in the family’s relationships, the blues of music, nature, and moods interact as that “sameness” forces Maddie and the rest of her family to see themselves through different eyes and to begin to make changes. In the book, the parents are musicians, naming their children from music, Maddie is really Madrigal, then there is Aria, older sister, and Strum, older brother, the oldest. And, from the beginning, that sameness does not stay.

Poems bring an undercurrent of music, in the happy and the sad parts. As a detective who is starting an investigation about Strum talks with Maddie, he asks about the dog, Gizmo, thinking he was hers.
“Gizmo stands and barks.
Woof! Woof! Woof!
I murmur into his ear and stroke his head,
warmth humming under
my hand,
until he stops barking.

“He’s Strum’s dog,” I say, my voice
wavering, a tremolo.
“But he sleeps
in my room now.”

In still another musical thread, reading of Maddie's struggle and triumph with the oboe shows her growth of self-confidence, touches on all the ways she is growing up. Maddie’s voice is genuine and clear, and amidst her confusion and angst and suffering, her earnest and loving essence shines through.

In her book, divided into three parts, Joanne Rossmassler Fritz entwines the music, each one beginning with a musical metaphor or simile. Part three begins with “January is a staccato, disconnected and feeling attacked.” The music continues, including a combination of it and climate change, the conflict between Strum and his father. The earth is not in harmony, and neither is Maddie’s world, but readers will love her faith that her missing brother was somewhere out there. Seeing her work things out even when there wasn’t a lot of support will be inspiring for middle-grade readers who might also be feeling alone in the world.

Maddie’s voice telling us all her side of things will find readers who think “That’s me (us)” as far as personal friendships and then family, the good and the bad. It is a tense mystery holding the many shades of blue in every poem, lyrical and conversational.

July 1, 2021
I could not put this down! I've been struggling to find middle grade reads that I enjoy, and Everywhere Blue sounded right up my alley: a beloved older brother who’s disappeared, “painful secrets” (as per the blurb), musical themes... And it did not disappoint. At all. The characters are well-drawn, the story engaging. I love too that one of its main themes is the climate crisis, which Ms. Fritz weaves in seamlessly as an obsession of MC Maddie’s best friend, with a good amount of info to engage young readers and inspire their interest. She also slides in other “educational” goodies: for example info about butterfly species; Maddie’s mom being French, which offers the chance for a smidge of spoken français; and music. Often such themes can feel superimposed and didactic - but in this case, not in the least, which leads me to imagine that as well as being a terrific book in its own right, it could also find a healthy market in schools.

I’d pre-ordered the book (I like to support a newbie novelist when I can), but was NOT expecting when it arrived on June 1, its release date, that I’d finish it by the next day. That never happens - I’m not the fastest reader ... but in this case, found myself to be a very eager one, snatching a few pages at any available moment. It’s awesome enough that an author can write a novel in verse, but to create such a layered story in that style is, IMO, gobsmackingly brilliant. Fritz’s verses are poignant, written with obvious ease and skill - I was not surprised to find out that she’s also a poet. A great read for any age!
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