Everything’s Not Fine Blog Tour Interview + Giveaway

Thank you to Fantastic Flying Book Club for letting me participate in this tour! Check out FFBC’s website to sign up to be a tour host!

About the Book

Everything’s Not Fine

by Sarah J. Carlson
Publisher: Turner Publishing
Release Date: May 26, 2020

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
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.

As Rose fights to hold everything together, and her dreams of 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, if Rose even wants her to.


  1. How much of your professional life as a school counselor went into the story of Everything’s Not Fine?

(I’m actually a school psychologist, but we’re often confused 😉 ) In my professional life as a school psychologist, the biggest struggles I see kids facing are things beyond their control wreaking havoc on their lives. Parents struggling with substance use issues is a very common adverse childhood experience. I wanted to write a book exploring a teen finding her resilience in the aftermath of a traumatic experience beyond her control.

  1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you come into it later?

I’ve loved writing since I first picked up a pencil. I remember how powerful and exciting it was in fourth grade to be chosen to represent my school at a writing competition, and to see my short story “published” in a bound book with other stories. From there, I went on to write what we’ll can Stephen King fan fiction on hundreds of pieces of loose-leaf paper before we had a computer, then lots of other novels after that. Writing has always been a hobby, an escape, for me, even during college when I was studying psychology. I don’t think my brain could NOT create stories. It’s still so unreal—and amazing—that my stories are now out in the world and people I’ll never meet have read them.

  1. How was your writing experience different from your debut All the Walls of Belfast? Did you find it easier or harder to write another book?

I actually wrote both of them simultaneously. I started them while living in Singapore; honestly, one of the catalysts for setting Everything’s Not Fine in my hometown was a bit of homesickness. All the Walls of Belfast is set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and took years of research into history, current events, dialect, culture, and setting. Obviously, I didn’t need to do all that for Everything’s Not Fine, but I wanted to treat my second book with the same lens, to capture small-town Wisconsin’s culture and dialect. I enjoyed taking trips to Sparta to research specific elements of setting. All the Walls of Belfast took a lot more research, but capturing the emotional landscape of Everything’s Not Fine took more crafting.

  1. Everything’s Not Fine tackles substance abuse, what kind of research did you do while writing it and what drew you to writing about such an important topic?

For Everything’s Not Fine, as the story was evolving, I interviewed police officers, lawyers, and social workers, and also did research on addiction and recovery. I read stories of families ravaged by addiction. I also hired an authenticity reader whose parent struggled with heroin addiction. This reader offered tough feedback and help guide me to the story that was mine to tell.

I was drawn to write about it because, as a school psychologist, I’ve worked with children and teens whose parents struggle with addiction, and I’ve seen how it ravages their lives, even as one or both parents are fighting to try and keep it all together. Everything’s Not Fine is not based on the story of any child I worked with, even in the slightest, but I wanted to capture what it’s like, the shame and guilt and anger and fear and love that comes with being stuck on the sidelines watching your parent do the things they’re supposed to tell you not to do. And, most importantly, I wanted to show a teen fighting to find her own resilience, focus on what she can control, and find the people who can help her carry the emotional burden. I wanted to show a teen discovering the power of starting to define her own life narrative in the face of things she can’t control. Those messages, I hope, can help teens coping with stress, even if their struggles are different from Rose’s.

  1. What are you currently working on?

Nothing official, but I’m playing around with something set in the biggest tourist trap in Wisconsin. I’m drawn to setting 😊

About the Author

Sarah J. Carlson writes contemporary YA that delves into complex, real world problems. Professionally, she is a school psychologist who works primarily with a diverse, mostly low income population. Her professional focus is around supporting the success of children with behavioral and mental health needs and helping to promote resilience in children who have been exposed to trauma or toxic stress. Sarah lives outside Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, two young children, and two energetic terriers.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


  • 1 copy of EVERYTHING’S NOT FINE by Sarah Carlson
  • US Only
  • Please be aware that delays due to COVID-19 may occur on the shipping of the prizes
  • Visit any stop to enter!!

Enter Rafflecopter HERE

Follow the Tour

May 18th

Ya It’s Lit– Review & Favorite Quotes
Kait Plus Books– Guest Post

May 19th

May 20th

I Heart Fictional People– Review & Favorite Quotes
@momfluenster– Review/Promo

May 21st

Wishful Endings– Interview

May 22nd

The Clever Reader– Interview
amy_janereads– Review

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