Lerner Publishing Group and Carolrhoda Lab have been extremely gracious as to allow me to review an ARC of this novel, via Netgalley, prior to its release date of April 1, 2011. The synopsis is as follows: “‘My walls were stripped, and all that was left in the room was a pile of boxes and my mattress propped against the wall.’ So begins Irene’s journey from an Upper West Side penthouse to—well, she’s not entirely sure where. Irene’s investment banker father is “downsized” when his company merges with another. When he can’t find work, her family’s lifestyle—and her socialite mother’s spending—quickly catches up with them. Eventually, they’re forced to move in with Irene’s grandfather in the big family farmhouse upstate. But what begins as the most disastrous summer of her life takes a surprising turn when she meets a most remarkable family. Everything I Was is the story of a young woman deciding what she wants for herself after she thought she’d lost everything.”
This was a very cute coming of age story, and Demas does a wonderful job showing the difficulties children face in this uncertain time. Although never explicitly stated, this novel takes a hard look at the current economic situation with which the world is struggling, an aspect we don’t see very often in fictional novels. Irene’s father loses his job as his corporation merges and downsizes, effecting his family’s life of luxury. As the money wanes, Irene finds herself uprooted from her extravagant lifestyle and living on her grandfather’s farm. What I really love about this novel is that it takes a detailed look at the effects of our economy on children. Because children aren’t the breadwinners in the household, and because they tend to live more carefree lifestyles, they are often overlooked in terms of thoughts and feelings as they deal with the constant changes happening around them. Told from the point of view of thirteen-year-old Irene, Demas does a wonderful job exploring Irene’s disposition as her life constantly changes. I really enjoyed this novel and it forced me to stop and think about life, and how we are all affected by change. I highly recommend this novel for all young adults and anyone with children. Four stars.