Review: Everything Grows by Aimee Herman

Title: Everything Grows by Aimee Herman
Publisher: Three Rooms Press
Genre: Historical (’90s), Young Adult, LGBTQ
Length: 239 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Fifteen-year-old Eleanor Fromme just chopped off all of her hair. How else should she cope after hearing that her bully, James, just took his own life? When Eleanor’s English teacher suggests students write a letter to a person who would never receive it to get their feelings out, Eleanor chooses James.

With each letter she writes, Eleanor discovers more about herself, even while trying to make sense of his death. And, with the help of a unique cast of characters, Eleanor not only learns what it means to be inside a body that does not quite match what she feels on the inside, but also comes to terms with her own mother’s mental illness.

Set against a 1993-era backdrop of grunge rock and riot grrl bands, EVERYTHING GROWS depicts Eleanor’s extraordinary journey to solve the mystery within her and feel complete. Along the way, she loses and gains friends, rebuilds relationships with her family, and develops a system of support to help figure out the language of her queer identity.

Through author Aimee Herman’s exceptional storytelling, EVERYTHING GROWS reveals the value of finding community or creating it when it falls apart, while exploring the importance of forgiveness, acceptance, and learning how to live on your own terms.


Everything Grows by Aimee Herman is an introspective young adult novel.

Eleanor Fromme’s reaction to the news that her classmate who bullied her, James, committed suicide leads to unforeseen consequences. Her best friend Dara’s shocking comments serve as a catalyst to a realization that Eleanor has struggled to articulate for quite some time.  In the midst of this uncertainty, she is also still grappling with her mother Shirley’s suicide attempt and Eleanor’s fears that she will try again.  Her journey to understand herself is viewed through a class assignment in which Eleanor writes diary format letters to James.  By the end of the assignment, Eleanor has a better understanding  of herself, yet there are still layers she has yet to explore.

Eleanor’s voice is quite engaging as she ponders the shifts within herself.  Her hurt at Dara’s rejection is tempered by her unexpected friendship with new student Aggie.  Her lingering concerns about  her mother’s mental health issues are realistically depicted and rather poignant.  With her oldest sister Greta off at college, Shirley’s best friend, Flor, provides Eleanor with a steadying influence and someone to confide in as she becomes more comfortable with who she is. Meeting James’s mother, Helaine, gives Eleanor access to James’s diary where she learns she and her bully have more in common than she thought possible.

Everything Grows is a thought-provoking young adult novel that is insightful and reflective. The characters are well-developed and likable.  Aimee Herman deftly handles sensitive subject matter in a forthright and realistic manner. The novel ends on  a positive note, but Eleanor’s journey is not yet complete since she is still wrestling with other parts of her sexual identity.

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Filed under Aimee Herman, Everything Grows, Historical (90s), LGBTQ, Rated B, Review, Three Rooms Press, Young Adult

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