Title: Everything Here Is Under Control
Author: Emily Adrian
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Source: ARC audiobook via NetGalley
Length: 7 hours, 35 min.
Publishing Date: 28 July 2020
Amanda isn’t sure what she expected when she brought Jack into the world, but the responsibility for him falling just on her shoulders was not it. At her breaking point, Amanda packs up her newborn and leaves Brooklyn for the familiar comforts of rural Ohio — and her best friend, Carrie. Carrie and Amanda had been inseparable in high school, but Amanda followed Gabe to New York City leaving Carrie (and Carrie’s daughter) behind.
Interspersed with dry humor and flashbacks to when Carrie and Amanda were in high school, Everything Here Is Under Control is a beautiful but heartbreaking story about friendship and motherhood. Told through Amanda’s very sleep deprived point of view, combined with the narrator’s performance on the audiobook, there were a lot of times I was actually laughing out loud or felt like crying (and it’s very hard for me to get outwardly emotional about books). What hit me hardest was how Amanda was struggling with her relationship with her partner, Gabe, and what she thought their relationship would look and feel the same after adding Jack to the mix. Turning to her mom for answers, Amanda’s mom suggests that Amanda loves Gabe less. Then, she reasons, Amanda’s expectations of him won’t be so high and she won’t be so disappointed when Gabe doesn’t help out with the baby — his baby — without being asked.
Amanda tries to run away from her current life, to put distance between herself and her reality, by returning home. She just needs a break from her life, from Gabe, from sleep deprivation and feeling like the worst mother in the world. But what Amanda does is put back the pieces of her life she scattered between Brooklyn and Ohio when she left to begin with.
Heartwarming and hilarious, Everything Here Is Under Control was a book I related to on so many levels despite being kid-free. Amanda is a deeply flawed character, but she knows it (even if she does avoid self-reflection as much as she avoids actual mirrors). As I read her interacting with friends and family, I couldn’t help but compare myself to her: would I be thinking and feeling and doing the same things if I was in her situation? And Amanda and Carrie’s relationship was an important reminder that family is always there when you need them, even if that family isn’t linked to you by blood. Friends are family — if you let them be. Amanda is also a reminder that even if you don’t have things under control, you’re always doing way better than you think you are.