Life Isn’t Easy

All That I Can Fix by Crystal Chan

Publication Date: June 12, 2018

Summary from NetGalley:

A teen boy’s world gets turned upside-down when a zoo of exotic animals takes over his small town in this wickedly funny, heartbreakingly honest novel that’s perfect for fans of Shaun David Hutchinson.All that I can fix

In Makersville, Indiana, people know all about Ronney—he’s from that mixed-race family with the dad who tried to kill himself, the pill-popping mom, and the genius kid sister. If having a family like that wasn’t bad enough, the local eccentric at the edge of town decided one night to open up all the cages of his exotic zoo—lions, cheetahs, tigers—and then shoot himself dead. Go figure. Even more proof that you can’t trust adults to do the right thing.

Overnight, news crews, gun control supporters, and gun rights advocates descend on Makersville, bringing around-the-clock news coverage, rallies, and anti-rallies with them. With his parents checked out, Ronney is left tending to his sister’s mounting fears of roaming lions, stopping his best friend from going on a suburban safari, and shaking loose a lonely boy who follows Ronney wherever he goes. Can Ronney figure out a way to hold it together as all his worlds fall apart?

From acclaimed author Crystal Chan comes an incisive tale of love, loyalty, and the great leaps we take to protect the people and places we love most.


ARC provided by Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing via NetGalley for an honest review. 


“It was a  Thursday when the squirrels fell from the trees.”

This is my favorite opening line so far this year.  I was instantly drawn in by it and had to find out was going on here.  As I read the next few pages I was amazed at how quickly I got into Ronney’s head and completly understood him.  Due to the circumstances in his life he had to grow up fast and basically become the responsible adult of his family, and he is only 15.

Ronny was an incredible character.  He is smart, sarcastic, angry at life but he is always there for his little sister and his friends.   He has had a rough few years, having to deal with his father’s depression and his mother’s anxiety.  As the adult’s in his life simply struggle to make it through the day, Ronney is fixing the house and taking care of his sister.  He carries a lot of responsibility and a lot of anger especially at his dad.  Ronny has some quirks too, like Thursdays are always bad days, if someone asks him to do something they have to ask 3 times before he agrees to do it.   School is not important to him right now, but he does try when he is able to get there.  Being a kid of mixed race also comes up a few times in the book, especially when a friend of his sister’s disappears. But through it all Ronny manages to mostly keep it together. 

Ronny’s relationship with his sister is so very wonderful.  He helps her with her homework, he soothes her fears about the wild and dangerous animals roaming their town and tries to help her understand their parents health issues.  His relationship with his father is strained, but through flashbacks we see that things were at one point good between them.  Ronny often lashes out at his father and does not really help him, but I think some of his comments do get through to his father. 

The plot and feel of the book is dark, but humorous.  Some of Ronny’s comments made me smile, but his life is crap and and getting crappier as the loose animals start attacking and killing people, the gun rights and gun control people take over the town and then some animal rights people also join in the fight.   All of this is going on in the background as Ronny deals with his sister’s anxiety around the animals, helps Sam find his missing brother, is betrayed by his two best friends and still has to deal with fixing the roof and the wall of his home.  There is a lot of issues brought up in this book, and some are dealt with better than others, but overall there is a feeling of hopefulness and heart.

There is a lot going on in this book, maybe too much.  Some issues were a little bit washed out because of this.  The overall feel of the book was good though and Ronny’s voice felt honest and true for a kid in his situation.  The ending was a little bit on the sunny side compared to the rest of the book, but I liked that because it gave you hope that maybe things would get better for Ronny and his family.

One comment

  1. Ronny sounds like a great big brother, even if the circumstances surrounding his need to be so aren’t ideal. I like that the author manages to combine both dark and light elements. I think for a lot of people humor is a way to deal with rough stages in life. Interesting sounding novel!

    Liked by 1 person

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