Published by IVP on September 26, 2023
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Memoir, Parenting
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Sometimes the world knocks us flat on our butt.
We feel stretched further than we ever thought physically, emotionally, or spiritually possible. And though we are torn up inside, we feel like we need to keep our chin up and put a good face on things. So we pretend that everything is fine, even though it's not.
Even in the hardest times, strength from God rises from deep in our soul to keep us going. In this honest, inspirational, and humorous book, Katie Schnack goes deep into the hard stuff of life with no sugar coating or toxic positivity to find sustenance she could not imagine. Faced with a child's medical challenges in the midst of a global pandemic, having strength to get up in the morning and actually enjoy the day was so unlikely that she knew it had to come from God. Schnack's plucky authenticity shows us how when life is complicated, self-compassion and humor can bring healing and life.
Everything Is (Not) Fine looks at the hard realities of life, but also gently reminds us of the good. Even in dark times, we can get glimpses of light.
Katie Schnack writes with humor and heart about challenges she has faced, showing that it’s possible to admit that you’re not fine and still find hope, humor, and light in difficult circumstances. Parts of the book focus on her experiences caring for her medically complex son, and she validates the anxiety and trauma parents experience while also showing how her faith has helped her make it through difficult times. I appreciate her vulnerability, and I like how she focused on her own emotional and spiritual journey without sharing too many personal details about her young son. Schnack also writes about a variety of other life challenges, such as making it through the pandemic, dealing with the daily grind, and struggling with feelings of comparison and discouragement.
Everything Is (Not) Fine: Finding Strength When Life Gets Annoyingly Difficult is full of amusing anecdotes and heartfelt reflections. Schnack is honest, funny, and encouraging, and even though I finished this book weeks ago, I still regularly think about different things she shared. However, this book has a much more specific audience than I originally realized. The marketing makes this sound like a general Christian living book about dealing with life’s challenges, but this is mainly for other Millennial moms of young children. Women in different circumstances and male readers will often feel that when Schnack addresses her readers, she isn’t talking to them. This is best for women in the author’s life stage.
This book made me laugh out loud multiple times. However, I sometimes felt that the humor was over-the-top. I can relate to laughing about dark situations, but some of Schnack’s jokes about her son’s medical issues and the pandemic seemed too flippant to me. At other times, I felt like she was trying too hard. She sometimes packed too many silly, random punchlines into limited space, and her jokes would have landed better if she had been more selective.
Also, it disappointed me that Schnack made so many jokes about wine. Towards the end of the book, she acknowledges that it was unhealthy for her to rely on wine to take the edge off daily life challenges, and she writes about the process of making better choices for her body and her mind. That helps balance out some of her previous jokes about alcohol, but I don’t see why she was normalizing mommy wine culture when she already knows that it’s a problem.
Everything Is (Not) Fine is a funny, honest, and encouraging book. Katie Schnack shares memorable stories to illustrate important spiritual truths, and she shares practical wisdom to help people navigate difficult emotions and cope with anxiety. People’s mileage with this will vary based on how much they connect with the author’s sense of humor, but I would recommend this to Millennial moms of young children, and especially to mothers who have dealt with trials related to a child’s health problems. Schnack’s warmth, candor, and helpful perspectives will encourage women in similar situations, and the book offers laughs and wisdom without platitudes.