Review of Then Everything Happens at Once

Then Everything Happens at Once Then Everything Happens at Once
by M-E Girard
High School    HarperTeen    432 pp.
1/23    9780063206687    $18.99
e-book ed.  9780063206700    $12.99

A teenage girl’s identity crisis coincides with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Girard’s (Girl Mans Up, rev. 11/16) latest novel, set on the outskirts of Toronto. Baylee is a thoughtful yet highly self-critical young woman who struggles with body image after years of being bullied about her weight. Her once-strong friend group is filled with tension as romantic pairings emerge or fall apart, while Baylee believes she will never find a significant other. Gradually, she relaxes her defenses and affirms the feelings she has or develops for her best guy friend, a new female friend, and her one-time bully. Her emotional rollercoaster is intensified by caring for her twelve-year-old sister, who has severe cerebral palsy, and by the daily news about people getting sick from COVID-19. She is faced with decisions about exploring newfound romance during lockdown and putting her sister at risk. Baylee and her family, both blood and chosen, model how life’s mistakes can be survivable with support from loved ones. Girard’s strength as a writer is in giving Baylee voice as an outwardly strong person whose inner thoughts exist in a state of turmoil. The character and story are highly relatable and potentially validating for readers who are figuring out their identities as well as those who could benefit from their own tumultuous teenage experiences—especially during the pandemic—being externally validated.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Nicholas A. Brown

Honduran-American librarian and arts producer Nicholas A. Brown is acting co-CEO and chief operating officer for communication and outreach at the Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, an adjunct faculty in library and information science at The Catholic University of America, a District of Columbia Library Association past president, an ALA Rainbow Round table member, and a former Library of Congress music specialist.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.