Cover image for Anything but okay / Sarah Darer Littman.
Anything but okay / Sarah Darer Littman.

First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, 2018.
Physical Description:
343 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"Author of Backlash"--Dust jacket.
Life has suddenly turned chaotic for high school student Stella since her brother, Rob, got home from his second tour of duty in Afghanistan: her school is on edge with ethnic tensions and her brother seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress but will not talk about it. But when Rob's anger finally spirals out of control, Stella realizes she has to find the courage to take a stand against the forces of hate in her hometown.


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LIT Book Junior Collection

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Stella and Farida have been best friends forever, but lately things have been tense. It all started when Stella's brother came home from his latest tour with the US Marines in Afghanistan paranoid and angry. But Stella won't talk about it, and Farida can tell she's keeping something from her.
Desperate to help Rob, Stella thinks she just needs to get him out of the house. She definitely didn't expect going to the movies to end with Rob in handcuffs for assaulting one of her classmates after his anger spiraled out of control.
When a video of the fight goes viral, everyone has an opinion of Stella and her "violent vet" brother.

The entire school takes sides, the media labels Rob a terrorist sympathizer, and even Farida is dragged into the mess despite not being there. As the story continues trending, Stella will have to decide just how far she's willing to go for the truth, even if it means admitting her own failures.

Author Notes

Sarah Darer Littman is the critically acclaimed author of In Case You Missed It ; Backlash ; Want to Go Private? ; Life, After ; Purge ; and Confessions of a Closet Catholic , winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award. She is also an award-winning news columnist and teaches writing as an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University and with the Yale Writers' Conference. Sarah lives in Connecticut with her family, in a house that never seems to have enough bookshelves. You can visit her online at

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sixteen-year-old Stella Walker's brother, Rob, hasn't been the same since he returned from his second tour in Afghanistan. Their parents, themselves veterans, tread on eggshells, unsure what to do about Rob's PTSD, and Stella feels invisible within their family. At school, Stella and her best friend Farida-whose parents fled Iraq after the Gulf War-confront sexist and bigoted views among a few of the students, sentiments that are fanned by the town's mayor, who is running for governor on an anti-immigrant platform. When the mayor's son Chris announces his candidacy for class president, Stella decides to run against him. Rob is caught on video punching one of Chris's friends for taunting a Sikh boy at the mall, a moment that turns both public and political, and Stella must decide if she should try to win or run a campaign that reflects true issues. Told through Stella's first-person narrative, Rob's letters to a veteran pal, and police interviews, this novel by Littman (Backlash) tackles the current sociopolitical climate with multifaceted, redeemable characters. Unfortunately, Farida, the book's lone protagonist of color, is employed as little more than a moral compass who must educate her friends about white privilege. Ages 12-up. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.