Joanne Rossmassler Fritz
Published June 1, 2021
About Everywhere Blue
After twelve-year-old Maddie’s older brother vanishes from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. Nothing will fill the void of her beloved oldest sibling. When her parents fly out to Strum’s college to search for answers, Maddie is left in the care of her sixteen-year-old sister, who seeks solace in rebellion and ignores Maddie. Drowning in grief and confusion, the family’s musical household falls silent.
Though Maddie is the youngest, she knows Strum better than anyone. He used to confide in her, sharing his fears about the climate crisis and their planet’s future. So, Maddie starts looking for clues: Was Strum unhappy? Were the arguments with their dad getting worse? Or could his disappearance have something to do with those endangered butterflies he loved . . .
Scared and on her own, Maddie picks up the pieces of her family’s fractured lives. Maybe her parents aren’t who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting mean she needs help. And maybe finding Strum won’t solve everything–but she knows he’s out there, and she has to try.
A brother’s disappearance turns one family upside down, revealing painful secrets that threaten the life they’ve always known.
When I started reading this book, I was super excited to learn that Maddie plays the oboe! You might remember from my review of AS FAR AS YOU’LL TAKE ME (another book featuring an oboist) that I’m pretty much surrounded by oboe players. I feel like it’s an unusual instrument to play, so I’m really excited that I’ve found two books that include the oboe.
EVERYWHERE BLUE is a novel in verse from Maddie’s point of view. She’s a hard working, super anxious girl who doubts her musical ability but also sees her life in musical terms. I loved her from the first page. Her family relationships are complicated. The person she’s closest to, Strum, her brother, has gone off to college. Her sister is angry and isolates herself from the family. Her father is angry and uses rules to control the household. Maddie often looks to her mother to comfort her and bring the family together.
I think I imagined from the cover summary that the story would be focused on Maddie finding the trail of breadcrumbs to learn what happened to her brother. And she does look for clues and wonder. But the bulk of the story focuses on Maddie and her processing what has happened to her family and her attempts to keep them together. I still enjoyed that a lot– this is a really rich emotional story. Maddie also processes a lot through her music, so I loved all the scenes that showed her practicing or listening to a piece of music that moved her. It made me want to find recordings of the music from the story to listen to.
I think readers who enjoy novels in verse, like ALONE by Megan E. Freeman, or stories about an emotional journey within a fractured family, like GLITTER GETS EVERYWHERE by Yvette Clark will want to add this one to their shelves.
Recommended for Ages 10 up.
Maddie has a counting ritual that she uses to cope with anxiety. She’s not labeled/diagnosed in the story. Maddie’s best friend is Asian-American.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
In one scene, Maddie sees a girl sitting on a boy’s lap.
At one point Maddie says something like, if there’s a god, she hopes he’ll keep her brother safe.
Maddie’s older sister comes home smelling like pot. (Maddie doesn’t specifically identify the smell.) Later, Maddie sees her sister and her sister’s friends drinking beer.
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