CYBILS REVIEW: Every Day After by Laura Golden
ABOUT THE BOOK
It's been two months since Lizzie's daddy disappeared due to the awful Depression. Lizzie's praying he'll return to Bittersweet, Alabama, for her birthday. It won't feel special without him, what with Lizzie's Mama being so sad she won't even talk and the bank nipping at their heels for a mortgage payment.
Daddy expected her to be the best at any cost. But Lizzie claims "that cost me my top grades and my best friend. It's dumped 'em both square into Erin's hands. She's gone batty if she thinks she's gonna get me carted off to the orphanage."
While Lizzie waits, she gets comfort writing in her journal. As time passes, she can only picture her daddy's face by opening her locket. If others can get by, why did her daddy leave? If he doesn't return, how can she overcome the same obstacles that drove him away?
Life is challenging for, soon-to-be-twelve, Lizzie and her mother. With her father having left and her mother in a several state of depression, Lizzie is left to keep things together. But trying to find money to pay the mortgage as well as doing the cooking and laundry plus trying to find time for schoolwork and her friend, Ben, is stressing Lizzie out. And a girl at school is determined to prevent Lizzie from not only taking top honors at school, but from finding a way to keep her home life together as well. And Ben seems to be slipping away as well. Can Lizzie find a way to persist or will she be forced to concede as did her father?
Strengths: The character development here is superbly done. Each character stands out clearly with his/her own problems. Lizzie is such a dominant character though that she has a hard time seeing anything beyond her own problems. This leads to serious problems some of which Lizzie brings on herself with her refusal to listen or ask for help. The themes of friendship, loyalty, persistence, and the power of a listening ear all shine through very clearly. Beautifully written and beautifully told, Every Day After is sure to be a Newbery contender.
Weaknesses: Lizzie's stubbornness and self-focus were rather frustrating at times. I wanted to jump into the book and shake her a couple of times. Hmm. Maybe not a weakness in the story, just a personal pet peeve.