Vince Granata, the author of Everything is Fine, remembers feeling at the age of 4 that the day his triplet siblings were brought to their suburban Connecticut home from the hospital was the best day of his life.  For many years, to all appearances, his was the perfect family.   

Then, while in college, his brother Tim develops a psychotic disorder.  Refusing treatment, he becomes more and more delusional.  He speaks frequently about killing himself and is convinced his mother has raped him.  Announcing that “demons are everywhere” (p.115) he enters his parents’ bedroom and throws salt at them as they sleep. His mother, though trained as an emergency physician, dismisses the idea he could become violent: “Everything is fine” (p.122).  

When Vince receives a phone call that his brother has killed his mother, he rushes home from teaching abroad to find yellow tape surrounding the house.  The immediate, surrealistic concern is to have a company clean the traces of his mother from the rug.   

Over the next few years, Tim is treated to restore him to competency so he can stand trial.  Vince and his father visit Tim faithfully in a facility while two other siblings cannot bring themselves to face him.  A friend insightfully prophesies “I hope you will eventually be able to find some peace and feel whole again…though that might be your life’s work” (p. 149). Indeed, while his brother recuperates, Vince goes through his own healing process. He dedicates himself to understanding schizophrenia and the shortcomings in our mental health care system, and, finally, writes this book.  


Grenata is frank about the struggles he endures in the aftermath of his mother’s murder. He reveals his feelings of guilt that he might have saved her had he not been out of the country and how his visits to Tim put him in conflict with his siblings. He talks about how he goes through a period of alcohol abuse and at one point dysfunctionally dates a psychologist who works with families like his.   

The author also attempts to make sense of anosognosia, the denial and lack of self-insight that is a hallmark of schizophrenia, and a phenomenon that is by nature incomprehensible.  In Tim’s case, even after treatment, his understanding of his illness is “I don’t have a chemical imbalance in my brain…I was targeted by demons.  That’s over now” (p. 213).  Anyone who has ever tried in vain to persuade a psychotic individual to stick with treatment will identify with this.  

Everything is Fine is a well-written and honest memoir. It is a tribute to Vince Grenata’s love for both his brother and mother, and it attests to his ability to reconcile his conflicting emotions and to forgive.      


Atria Books

Place Published

New York



Page Count