Amanda is a new mother, and she is breaking. After a fight with her partner, she puts the baby in the car and drives from Queens to her hometown in rural Ohio, where she shows up unannounced on the doorstep of her estranged childhood best friend. Amanda thought that she had left Carrie firmly in the past, but the trauma of childbirth and shock of motherhood compel Amanda to go back to the beginning and to trace the tangled roots of friendship and family in her own life.
... emotionally nuanced ... From page one, Everything Here Is Under Control is not afraid of talking straight. Looking at the trauma of birth, it enters into a frank conversation with its readers that is thoughtful and heartfelt, humorous and raw. The novel consistently engages with themes of motherhood, yet never forgets about the many forms of love that its characters have. Adrian depicts Amanda, Carrie and Gabe with compassion and precision, making them unfailingly lovable even with their personal imperfections. And while the novel is most interested in exploring the intricate relationships between its characters, it also pays careful attention to the sometimes suffocating, always complex inner workings of rural, small-town America. Warm, generous and outspoken, Adrian's fiction is a thought-provoking delight.
There is so much to examine here, from the harrowing experience of new motherhood to the role of a father in an infant’s first days. Amanda’s complex relationship with Deerling, which includes her own mother, is worth noting, too, and a twist midway through the book adds great intensity to the story. But the heart of the novel is Carrie and Amanda’s friendship, with all its sorrow and joy. A perfect selection for book groups.
Often, in great fiction, the characters’ responses and interactions can prove more interesting than the plot itself. Everything Here Is Under Control—the Y.A. author’s adult debut—is filled with compelling characters, but the first half of the novel fails to elevate them over the events they partake in. There is a thinness to the first 100 or so pages that arises from the book’s desire to continue to withhold a Major Secret; as a result, this part feels flatter and less engaging than the second half, which is so full of texture and authentic human ambivalence that it more fully serves the characters that Adrian has so deftly drawn.