Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Tag Archives: ya book

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.