Reviews for Every Day After

Booklist Reviews 2013 August #1
Eleven-year-old Lizzie Hawkins has her share of troubles: out-of-work Dad has abandoned the family, prompting Mama's descent into a near-catatonic state; and classmate and bully Erin Sawyer regularly threatens to inform the authorities, which could result in institutionalization for Mama and an orphanage for Lizzie. Convinced her father will return (and that he would not want her to ask for help), Lizzie does her best to manage on her own, even as her family's financial situation continues to crumble. Set in Bittersweet, Alabama, in 1932, Golden's debut brims with local color and colloquialisms ("Kiss my grits"). The characterizations of Lizzie and best friend Ben (who has his own troubles) are particularly well drawn, and Golden is effective in conveying their different approaches to hardships--Lizzie confronts every obstacle with a battle, while Ben trusts everyone, including those he shouldn't. Less nuanced is nemesis Erin; by the time her extenuating motivations are revealed, readers will likely be too disgusted to forgive. Pair with Clare Vanderpool's Moon over Manifest (2010). Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
After her father disappears and her mother retreats into a catatonic depression, twelve-year-old Lizzie fights desperately to retain her top academic standing. Cruel Erin Sawyer schemes to steal Lizzie's place (and her best friend), forcing Lizzie to face her own limitations. Golden spins Lizzie's tale, set in Depression-era Alabama, with lyricism, a strong sense of place, and vivid characterization.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 April #2
The year Lizzie Hawkins turns 12, she loses her father, her treasured locket and her position as best student in her class--but narrowly avoids losing a friend. Times are hard in Bittersweet, Ala., in 1932. Lizzie's out-of-work father has vanished. Her mother has become silent and unresponsive. Determined not to ask for help, the sixth-grader struggles to cook, wash, keep house and garden, as well as doing the outside mending her mother used to take in to pay the mortgage. Worse, a bullying classmate, determined to steal Lizzie's academic standing as well as her friend, threatens to reveal her circumstances. Caught up in her own troubles, Lizzie fails to notice that her best friend Ben's life is even more difficult. As Lizzie tells her story, interspersing it with occasional long journal entries, readers will become more and more impatient with her stubbornness. But, as one of the chapter-heading proverbs preaches, "The greatest conqueror is he who conquers himself," and providentially, she does. There is a clear, pleasing sense of time and place in this debut novel, created through solid details of a difficult daily life. Lizzie's voice isn't always convincing, especially when she writes. But her determination is commendable. Inspired by the writer's grandparents' experiences, this Depression-era story should resonate with modern middle-grade readers. (Historical fiction. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 April #4

Set in 1932 in small-town Alabama, Golden's folksy debut details the struggles and injustices facing 11-year-old Lizzie Hawkins after her father loses his job and leaves town. Stuck with an overdue mortgage and a mother paralyzed by depression, Lizzie believes she just has to hold it together until her father returns, as she is sure he will. Her best friend Ben is supportive but in a similar situation, and he grows tired of Lizzie's single-minded focus on her own problems. Between the pressures of working, keeping up her grades, staying one step ahead of her nemesis at school, and hiding the truth about her home life (Lizzie fears her mother will be sent to an institution and she herself to an orphanage), Lizzie is too busy to see that she may need to reach out for help. The novel's Southern dialect and Depression-era setting are solidly evoked--debut author Golden pulled from her own family's history to create Lizzie's story. If the characters sometimes come across as one-note, Lizzie's innate resilience and determination are memorable and inspiring. Ages 9-12. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 July

Gr 5-7--Lizzie and Ben have a lot in common. Eleven years old, they were born days apart, their mothers were once best friends, and they recently lost their fathers, although Ben's died, while Lizzie's left Alabama for parts unknown. Lizzie's father left her a gold locket that once belonged to her paternal grandmother; the slingshot his dad made becomes Ben's constant companion. These talismans figure in the resolution of the story. Scratching out a living in a small town during the Depression becomes even harder when Lizzie's mother's sadness stops her from functioning. The girl is left to struggle to keep her grades up, maintain daily chores, and handle a rivalry with a mean-spirited girl, Erin. Making matters worse, it seems that Ben has befriended Erin. He is wise beyond his age and recognizes Lizzie for whom she is. He tolerates her selfishness until it escalates, forcing him away. Lizzie keeps a journal with her innermost thoughts and feelings, providing insight into the behaviors she describes in her narration. Erin and her mother, quite unlikable characters, attempt unsuccessfully to further separate Lizzie's family (an orphanage for her, an institution for her mother). The plot is at times tense, with a contrived albeit satisfying conclusion. The characters are memorable. Lizzie is often self-absorbed, unsympathetic, and highly competitive, but as she matures, she recognizes these traits in herself and tries to grow. Often too gentle, Ben can finally articulate his feelings to Lizzie. Readers will likely see parallels between Lizzie's time and personality and their own.--Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

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