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Everything is Fine (and other lies I tell myself)

By Cathy Brett, published by Headline.

Goodreads Synopsis: Things haven’t been going so well for fifteen-year-old Esther Armstrong. With her brother Max – her closest ally – absent, she’s forced to face everything alone, not least her parents’ heated arguments. As the summer holidays stretch endlessly ahead, she’s desperate for something, anything, to divert her attention.

Then she finds some letters hidden in the walls of her family home, sent by a soldier to his sweetheart from the trenches of WWI. Esther is consumed by the mystery of these lovers – not very much older than herself – and what became of them. Perhaps in piecing together the jigsaw of someone else’s life, Esther can work out how to reassemble her own, and how to make everything fine again…

My review: Having previously enjoyed Cathy Brett’s past books so much, I couldn’t wait to start on this one! I read this in two sittings. It was amazing and seriously unputdownable. The story started off really well, and the pace was great throughout the novel. I really liked the idea of finding love letters from world war one in your bedroom wall, coincidentally as a film crew are shooting a WW1 film in your house. Cathy Brett played out the story really well, and I especially liked that she drew out the suspense a little by revealing the content of the letters every couple of chapters- that really made me want to keep reading on, and also left me wondering what was in the last, unopened, letter at the ending.

as well as the two World War One-based stories in this book, Everything is Fine outlined some thought-provoking issues of grief and loss and how a family can deal with it. Although this read was pretty uplifting, and funny at parts, it maintained some serious notes throughout that really got the whole message of the story across to me.

Esther was a really great protagonist. She was unique and really caring, overall. I fell in love with her personality right away because she was so determined to make sure that both lover’s from the WW1 letters had been okay, and survived the war, even though they had no connection to her and weren’t even in her generation. I could see those caring thoughts again through her emails to her brother Max. I could tell there was a really special bond between them and loved that element of unconditional love. it absolutely broke my heart at the ending, when you find out hat has really happened to Esther’s family. Although there was a lot of great description about Esther’s feelings, I feel that I would’ve gotten closer to the character a bit more is the story was in a first-person narrative.

Overall, Everything is Fine was an absolutely brilliant read, with a strong plot and really special characters. I loved it so much! It was very different to Cathy’s dark-humored previous books, but still so enjoyable. It was really brought to life in a unique way, unlike any other book, with the beautiful watercolor illustrations and the drawings; also by the author. I can’t wait to her more from Cathy in the future!

I received Everything Is Fine from the publisher, for review.

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