Everywhere Blue

Holiday House. Jun. 2021. 256p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780823448623.
Gr 4-7–Musical and poetic, this is a brave, rich debut novel about mental health and climate change. Maddie, short for Madrigal (like everyone in her family, she has a musical name) likes sameness. Whenever Maddie is stressed, she counts things and hopes they come out to an even number; this calms her. There’s a lot to be worried about these days—the quality of her oboe playing, her dad’s strictness, her sister Aria’s increasing distance, and her older brother Strum’s sudden disappearance from college—and lots of her counting comes to odd numbers. There’s a dissonance in this musical family, and no one can figure out where Strum has gone or why. Maman, who is French, flies to Colorado to search for him; Daddy follows and leaves Maddie home with Aria, who is even more determined to break the rules now that their parents are gone. Knowing Strum’s increasing concern with ecology and conservation, Maddie joins Eco Club with her best friend, Emma, and lands a solo in the upcoming school concert; she experiences common middle school concerns like fitting in while navigating intense family struggles at home. The book is written in verse, and the plot is broken into four narrative segments and utilizes musical terminology like diminuendo in the beginning and crescendo at the end. The imagery of blue morpho butterflies swirling with the conflict and connection in Maddie’s life during her oboe solo is particularly beautiful.
VERDICT Libraries need more titles featuring young people who care about climate change and live with undiagnosed mental illness, and this fresh novel in verse fits the bill.

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