cover image Everything Is Just Fine

Everything Is Just Fine

Brett Paesel. Grand Central, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-1-5387-4564-9

Actor, producer, and writer Paesel (Mommies Who Drink) sets her snarky sucker punch of a fiction debut in the heads and on the laptops of a bunch of prickly soccer parents in Beverly Hills. Much of the story is epistolary, moving forward through an email chain set off by Coach Randy to the parents of his team of needy, 10-year-old boys. Randy, who has lost his sales job (a fact that his wife doesn’t know), sends inspirational messages that are funny but fraught. Team mom Jacqui weighs in with her own emails, often subtly undermining what Randy has to say, and hers are followed by comments from other moms and dads laden with anger and passive aggression. Diane, a mother who has recently split from her husband, drunkenly emails sassy retorts and then is usually sorry, until Randy begins to confide in her. Meanwhile, the team’s skills coach, Alejandro, seduces a couple of the mothers on the team. It’s all funny until the threats to marriages and lives become impossible to ignore, and one of the boys must use a hidden talent to save the day. Though the reader might wish for more of a sense of place—these soccer fields could be anywhere from Cincinnati to El Cajon—Paesel’s book is compulsively readable, an unforgiving portrait of a spoiled generation of contemporary American parents. (Apr.)