Conflict and contradiction make for a page-turner, Sarah Meyer
Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong
Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue starts off really normally. There is a drifty, relaxed vibe as Caleb enters year 13 in a Wellington school. Things kick up a notch as Caleb struggles to keep up with school work, fit in with friends, and understand family. In this dark gloom, Caleb makes a friend called Casey. She is the one bright spot in his life. However, there are many secrets lurking in the dark and things are certainly not as they seem.
A small note to be taken into consideration is the fact that there are some severe mental illnesses in this book and none of them are romanticised. A mental hospital is featured in the book, and let’s just say that they don’t put happy, health people in it. Most of the characters in the mental hospital are teenagers, and it is sad to say that we do have a real issue around mental health in New Zealand.
Throughout the book there are many plot twists that I would have never seen coming. Donohue is constantly keeping the reader on their toes. This is what makes the book so entertaining to read, simply because you are never bored. Caleb is a bit of a normal clichéd character until you hear about his backstory.
But my favourite character was Casey. Casey has a mischievous streak a mile wide. She is the kid that does what she wants to do and doesn’t really care what others think. She is filterless and unapologetically herself. However, like all good characters, she has a dark side that comes into play later in the novel and this definitely puts an interesting spin on what happens to Caleb. Casey is pretty much the complete opposite of Caleb. He is a quiet, reserved person who prefers to follow the rules even if they bore him. Because of their complete oppositeness they contradict and challenge each other’s every move. This conflict between the two of them was one of the reasons that I had to keep reading this book. The pages could not turn fast enough at times.
This book has some subtle New Zealand Kiwi vibes, but it isn’t overdone. The main characters aren’t living on farms with their wild sheep, wearing their gumboots and eating pies for lunch everyday. Local place names and NCEA are mentioned, but everything else in the book doesn’t scream “this is a Kiwi book and if you haven’t lived in New Zealand you will never understand it.” This would make it easy for someone anywhere around the world to read this book and understand it, as long as it was in their preferred language.
I would rate this book an 8/10. The reason I wouldn’t rate it higher is because it didn’t end well. In my opinion it was too perfect and there were no loose ends for the reader to pick at and think more about. The book wrapped up and that was the end of it. I would definitely recommend reading this book, though it’s not your typical teenage romance; in fact, there is minimal romance in this book and no science fiction, making it one of the better dramas.
Sarah Meyer is 14 years old and from Wellington.