Kit Grindstaff's Reviews > Every Day After

Every Day After by Laura   Golden
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it was amazing

“Trouble has rained down on Lizzie Hawkins. Her daddy has deserted the family, her mama is silent with sadness, and the bank is after their house…”

(From the Goodreads blurb).

From the blurb’s first sentence, I was hooked. I don’t know whether the author wrote it herself, but I suspect so, since the voice inside the pages—written in first person from Lizzie’s point of view—is just as strong, if not stronger. It was in my head from page one, and never let go throughout this Depression-era story set in the especially hard-bitten south. This book has an innocence to it, yet is full of the fire of its main character, as well as the grit of the unimaginably difficult situation facing her: holding her life together, and her mama’s, after the breadwinner—her adored daddy—has left. You can bet that situations like this were not uncommon at that time, which makes the book all the more poignant. This is real stuff, folks, which according to the author’s bio, she gleaned firsthand from elder friends and family who lived it.

Lizzie is feisty and headstrong, admirable in her determination and resourcefulness, which makes her very likeable—a good thing, as at times, she’s also downright annoying, and yet still manages to be likeable. We as the reader see her flaws and witness the reasons her friendship with the lovely Ben begins to fall apart, while she blithely tells events the way she sees them—often very differently from our view, (except when it comes to the horrid Erin Sawyer). This dichotomy is hard enough for an author to pull off in a third-person narrative where there’s the benefit of external cues and/or narrative interjections, but I think is even harder in a first-person narrative. Yet Laura Golden somehow manages to make us see Lizzie as she is, even though Lizzie herself is blind to the faults that keep leading her into hot water.

While Every Day After tells the story of the overlying drama in Lizzie’s life, it’s also woven through with deeper currents and issues which are as relevant to teens today as they were then: poverty, bullying (including an understanding of why this book’s bully is as she is), abandonment, mother-daughter role reversal (Lizzie having to fend for her mom, who’s become almost comatose with grief). Yet for all the emotional weight in this book, it never becomes heavy, and for and all Lizzie’s flaws, one thing she can’t be accused of is being self-pitying, or dull, or pessimistic. She remains likeable even in her worst moments, and I was rooting for her all the way.

Which of us sees ourselves clearly? We like to think we do, which is precisely one of Lizzie’s flaws; but it’s only when realization dawns—as with any of us—that she’s able to pull together a positive ending (without, however, being sappy—some circumstances don’t change, after all) and make the most of her strengths. Lizzie is a character who will inspire readers her own age to begin to look at themselves and find similar flaws—and, more importantly, gifts.

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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 12, 2012 – Shelved

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