Monday, May 3, 2021


A version of this review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is republished here with permission.

Vince Granata was four when his parents brought triplets home from the hospital. As the family legend goes, thrilled to have siblings, Vince stuck his head in his father's open car window and declared, "This is the best day of my life." Granata was 27 when he got the call that his brother Tim had killed their mother.

Granata's heartbreaking memoir, Everything Is Fine, recounts the years leading up to Claudia Granata's death at her son's hands and the aftermath that left Vince, his siblings and his father with differing scars from the same horrific wound. It is the story of a warm, loving family, yet also one of American tragedy. Granata demonstrates how woefully inadequate mental health care and historically deadly clashes between law enforcement and the mentally ill left his mother fighting for her son's life, yet afraid to call authorities for help.

Granata deals with his traumas through the memoir, but also uses it to educate readers on a misunderstood disease process. Signs of Tim's schizophrenia began in high school, "on an atomic level, a single cell, something misfiring, an electron hitting the wrong synapse, a chemical imbalance slowly putrefying his brain." The progression to demonic delusions is harrowing in hindsight, but in order to inform readers about the terror of the disease, Granata had to "show... the horror it wrought" and the boy it swallowed. Painful on a multitude of levels, Granata's work is thought-provoking and important. It elegantly humanizes a man who has done the most inhumane thing to those he loves most. 

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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