Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Tag Archives: Young adult

Opening a box of Advance Review Copies for EVERYTHING’S NOT FINE ❤️


This is my second book, but opening the first box of ARCs was just as magical. I worked on writing (and rewriting and rewriting) Everything’s Not Fine for about five years. Getting to see and hold it as a printed, bound book is the most amazing feeling. And they are beautiful inside and out ❤️.



Meet Rose, the heroine of my second YA novel Everything’s Not Fine

Seventeen-year-old Rose Hemmersbach aspires to break out 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 taken 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 her schoolwork, let alone pick up a paintbrush. Until Rose is 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.

A Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams for the future start to slip from 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.

I’m so excited to share the cover, which was designed by Rebecca Lown. I love LOVE the roses. Rose, the main character, is a painter who draws inspiration from Frida Kahlo, and the roses on the cover totally look like something Rose would paint. The girl’s body language on the cover communicates tension, but her slight smile offers hope, which to me is so critical because Everything’s Not Fine is a story about discovering resilience in the aftermath of trauma.

ENF cover

Check out the book trailer.

Everything’s Not Fine (Turner Publishing Company, May 26th 2020) is near and dear to my heart for many reasons. As a school psychologist, I feel exploring the topic of parental substance abuse is critical in today’s world. Also, it’s set in my high school hometown.

My first novel, All the Walls of Belfast, is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland and explores the lingering impact of the Troubles on two teens who don’t even remember the conflict. Writing this required years of research and three trips to Belfast to learn about setting, culture, dialect, history, etc.

For Everything’s Not Fine, I consciously tried to capture setting and culture with the same care, which challenged me to examine a world much closer to home through an outsider’s lens. I love Wisconsin, and I’m excited to share a bit of it with the world.

If you’d like a chance to read it early, I’m giving away an Advanced Reader’s Copy right now. Enter here! Also, stay tuned for another opportunity to get early access to Everything’s Not Fine. Otherwise, it’s available for pre-order.