Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Everything’s Not Fine is a Kirkus 2020 Best of…


I’m beyond honored to share that my Contemporary Young Adult novel Everything’s Not Fine was nominated as a Kirkus YA Best Books of 2020 About Finding Inner Strength.

For most of my formative years, I lived in small Wisconsin towns; these places helped shape me into who I am today. Growing up, I never read a book set in Wisconsin, let alone small-town Wisconsin. That’s a big part of why I chose to set Everything’s Not Fine in Sparta, Wisconsin, and it’s amazing to see it featured on such a highly-regarded list.

I’m a young adult author (my debut was All the Walls of Belfast), but I have also been a school psychologist working in the schools for the past twelve years.

One of my professional areas of focus is around bolstering resilience in children who have experienced trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences. The biggest thing I see impacting children are things happening in their world beyond their control, and one of the most life-impacting Adverse Childhood Experiences is parental substance-use addiction. More than 20 million Americans are battling substance-use addiction. For those suffering, addiction becomes like a car with no brakes, and their children are trapped inside with them.

Everything’s Not Fine centers around a teenage girl trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of her mother’s heroin overdose. I wanted to explore how she struggles to help put her family’s life back together while also making sense of her mom’s choices and their relationship. At its core, Everything’s Not Fine is about a girl discovering her own resilience and the healing power of admitting to those she grows to trust that everything isn’t fine.

Recent statistics suggest that 58% of older teens have experienced at least one Adverse Childhood Experience, and many have experienced more than one. I wrote this book for them.

EVERYTHING’S NOT FINE is officially out in the world


Out now FB

My second young adult novel Everything’s Not Fine is out today.

I started this novel over five years ago while feeling homesick living in Singapore. It’s gone through a lot of growing pains since I first started writing it, cutting an entire point-of-view character, cutting an entire storyline, and re-writing the remaining storyline from the ground up. I still cannot believe it’s now a published book.

Ultimately it’s a story about discovering resilience in the face of things you can’t control.

Here’s the back copy, in case you’re curious:

back cover

You can now buy it on, IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository and many other places. You can alsobuy direct from my publisher and get a discount and instant shipping.

Because of COVID-19, I’m doing my book launch tonight virtually on Instagram Live at 8 PM CST with USA Today best-selling young adult author Kelly Anne Blount. I’ll be giving away a signed copy and some book swag. Join us if you can.

Everything's not fine launch

Goodreads Giveaway for EVERYTHING’S NOT FINE



There’s currently a Goodreads giveaway running for Everything’s Not Fine. If you’d like a shot at getting an early read of an advanced copy, click here!

Here’s a bit more about Everything’s Not Fine.

Seventeen-year-old Rose Hemmersbach aspires to break free of small-town Sparta, Wisconsin and achieve her artistic dreams at Belwyn School for the Arts after she graduates. Painting is Rose’s escape from her annoying younger siblings and her family’s one rule: ignore the elephant in the room, because talking about it makes it real. That is, until the day Rose finds her mother dying on the kitchen floor of a heroin overdose. Kneeling beside her, Rose pleads with the universe to find a heartbeat. She does—but when her mother is take to the hospital, the troubles are just beginning. Rose and her dad are left to pick up the pieces. Now all that matters are her siblings. Rose doesn’t have room to do to her schoolwork, let alone pick up a paintbrush. Until she’s forced to do the homecoming mural with Rafa, a new senior at Sparta High. Rose and Rafa don’t have an ounce of school spirit between them, but Rose discovers her brain still has room to paint. As Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams for the future start to slip through her grasp, she must face the question of what happens when—if—her mom comes home again. And if, deep down, Rose even wants her to.

novel aesthetic 2

It’s hard to believe my second novel comes out in less than two months.

Get on the Early Reader List for EVERYTHING’S NOT FINE


ENF cover

It’s so hard to believe, but a box of Advance Review Copies for my second young adult novel, Everything’s Not Fine, is on the way! It’s really happening…

If you’re a librarians, book blogger, bookstagrammer, vlogger, or frequent reviewer on Goodreads/Amazon/B&N and want a chance to snag an ARC of Everything’s Not Fine, you can submit your name for consideration on the early reader list.

Here’s a bit more about Everything’s Not Fine:

Seventeen-year-old Rose’s world is shattered when her mom almost dies of a heroin overdose. As Rose tries to pick up the pieces, she discovers the power in admitting everything’s not fine.⠀



Memorial Day Weekend R & R, AKA a break from writing


We planned a last minute escape to Door County, Wisconsin for the long weekend. I forced myself to take a much-needed break from planning a possible book trailer for my debut novel, All the Walls of Belfast, and preparing feedback for both my future #WriteMentor mentee and also all the people who trusted me with their submissions. Here’s a few of my favorite pictures 🙂

Feeling refreshed and ready to work.