Everything Is Just Fine


By Brett Paesel

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$18.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around April 9, 2019. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

In this brilliant, laugh-out-loud satire, named one of Washington Independent Review of Books Favorite Books of 2019, image-conscious parents on a Beverly Hills junior soccer team struggle to keep up appearances as their private lives careen out of control.

“You’ll wince, laugh out loud, relate to, and relish this unsparing satirical send up.”—Wednesday Martin, New York Times bestselling author

Coach Randy is working mightily to keep it together, and not simply with his vaguely unhappy wife, distant child, and a new boss who’s eliminating half the sales force. This season’s soccer parents are a demanding bunch. Diane’s wine-fueled group e-mails are almost unintelligible; team mom Jacqui’s enthusiasm for the league verges on manic; a divorced couple can barely conceal their murderous rage at each other; and another mom is laser-focused on schooling everyone on what constitutes a healthy snack option.

All the secrets and lies bubbling below the surface of their membrane-thin civility threaten to combust when Alejandro, a young, foreign assistant coach refuses to play by the Beverly Hills code, which is to mind your own business and don’t look too deeply into anyone’s soul. Especially your own.

Brett Paesel brings hilarity and huge heart to a world that looks enviable and shiny on the outside but is, in truth, filled with aching for connection on the inside. In the vein of Perotta and Semple, everyday life in Paesel’s deft rendering is anything but.


It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on the battlefield.

William Butler Yeats

Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.


Losing is only ever your third option!

Coach Randy

Monday, November 8, 5 p.m.

THE SMACK OF A WAVE hitting the beach, loosening rocks as it recedes. As if to drag something—anything—back with it. A smooth stone. A crab. A bottle cap. Coach Randy stands on the shore. Not too close, because it’s insanely cold. He bounces up and down a bit and forces himself to contemplate the bigger picture. He read somewhere—or maybe it was in a movie—that there is freedom in understanding how insignificant you are in the universe. He closes his eyes and concentrates on his insignificance. But no dice. In seconds, his mind is dragged back to the unholy mess he’s made of the past few months. He is the stone, the crab, the bottle cap.

Would he be standing on the beach today, alone, if he had made a handful of other choices? How would someone who is not him have handled everything differently? What would Yoda say?

Goddamn it’s cold and windy and getting dark. Not ideal conditions for making a big, life-changing decision. He bends down to pick up a rock and tosses it into the ocean. Watches the waves for a minute, rubbing his hands together.

Enough of this. He straightens up and drops his hands to his sides. No more stalling. He pivots, the rocks crunching beneath his feet, and marches to his car. There are moments that define every man’s life, and this is the moment Randy Tinker will be remembered for.


From: FavoriteCoach@gmail.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:33 pm

Subject: Note from your favorite coach! (kidding)

Dear Parents and athletes:

Hi from Coach Randy! I hope you all enjoyed your last free Saturday before the season begins next week. For those of you who missed the “meet and greet” last Sunday, you didn’t miss a thing. I’m joking, seriously you missed a lot. First off, you’ll have to get your uniform from Jacqui, our Team Mom who worked side by side with me last year. She always wears a visor and is only about 4’11”. I hope that doesn’t offend you Jacqui! Kidding, I know her and she won’t mind!! Anyway, you can’t miss her, she also carries a huge bag. That’s where she’ll have the uniforms and stuff you never even knew you needed!

It looks like we have a mixed group of talent and experience this season (some total beginners up to a superstar or two), which is what the Beverly Hills Jr. Soccer league is all about. Remember everyone plays—absolutely everyone, even if you don’t like it and it’s your just your mom or dad who signed you up! This will be my third year coaching and experience tells me that it’s the most reluctant players who get the most out of it in the end. Just ask my own kid, he can’t wait to get on the field now.

OK, let’s do this!

If you missed the “meet and greet” you might not know that we need a team name that starts with the letter ‘M’. I was hoping not to get ‘M’ because kids always want to start the team name with the word “Magic”… something, Like Magic Ninjas, and, if you know me, you know I don’t believe in magic, just hard work, passing, playing your position, and listening to me, your assistant coach (still finding one), and our private skills coach, Al (or Alejandro, as he also likes to be called)recruited and paid for by some of the dads to keep us sharp.

I don’t want to go on too much here, and seriously would not have to if a whole third of you hadn’t missed the “meet and greet”.

Oh, and, for those of you who were on my team last year, notice that I’m not using my work e-mail anymore. You guys were cramming my inbox last season and, frankly, I shouldn’t be doing team stuff at work anymore, right?

OK. This Saturday, 9:30 sharp, and be ready to play at 10:00.

Go M team!

Coach Randy

From: Mako@Shakrayoga.org

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:35 pm

Subject: Re: Note from your favorite coach! (kidding)

Hello team parents: If I had known the Meet and Greet was optional and not mandatory (like the invite said) I would have gone to my older son’s academic pentathlon final. As it was, his team came in first and I missed it.


Mako (Mason’s Mom)

Diane Platt snaps the lid of her laptop closed and takes another swig of wine. Isn’t there some kind of regulation about getting the same coach twice in a row? Not that Randy is a bad guy. It’s like T said last season, Randy’s simply over the top in ways that can exhaust a person.

She leans back in her chair and closes her eyes against the memories that threaten to stream through her mind at the mere thought of T. Eight months since the divorce, and she’s still in a constant state of pining and regret. Beyond painful, it’s boring as hell.

She breathes in, opens her eyes, reaches for her glass, and raises the lid of the laptop. There’s no tonic like reading the inevitable stream of Reply Alls to make her feel a little less fucked up.

From: Visorgrl@mac.com

To: M Team list

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:47 pm

Subject: Snack sign-up

Hey team and parents,

I’m Jacqui, the Team Mom. My son is Calvin and this is his second year playing so go easy on him. I’m only kidding. He’s pretty good. You all are. You ALL are superstars!

By now you got Coach Randy’s welcome e-mail. I’m sorry I didn’t meet all of you at the “meet and greet”, but that’s OK, because we all have other stuff going on and I understand that. Speaking of which, please choose a day for snack sign up that works FOR YOU. Other Team Moms just sign people up without asking, but I like you to pick your own day so you don’t feel stressed. Beverly Hills Jr. Soccer is all about fun. The first six games aren’t even competitive, so you can really relax and not worry about your kid crying or hitting players on the other team out of some pretty understandable frustration.

I will have extra health forms in my bag. Diane and Mark, I need new health forms for your kids even though they played on our team last year. Also, for those of you who are new, I have extra sunscreen, water bottles, sanitizer, and a small first aid kit in my bag. Randy says that the kit isn’t that small, but he doesn’t realize how much stuff the other Team Mom’s carry. Seriously, I’m relaxed in comparison. You’ll get to know that!

Remember that we’re still looking for an assistant coach. So any of you Dads who have been dreaming of being a part of this season, I’m talking to you! It could even be a mom, or someone between jobs, or a manny, or even a sibling who’s not going to college right now and is looking for something to do. Now’s the time to get involved. It’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Jacqui Hirshorn

Calvin’s Mom

From: Alejandro.Navaro@Pepperdine.edu

To: M Team list

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:53 pm

Subject: Re: Snack sign-up

Hello boys,

I look forward to working on your soccer skills.

Alejandro Navaro

From: Visorgrl@mac.com

To: M Team list

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:56 pm

Subject: Re: Snack sign-up

Hello Team M:

Seriously, Alejandro is being modest. He’s not just working on your skills—he’s the real deal and played professionally in Columbia before coming to our country to study Forensic Dentistry!

He’s going to be a great asset to the team and the league—and to my son, Calvin, who looks up to you already, Alejandro! The boys loved wrestling you to the ground at the Meet and Greet. You are SO GREAT WITH KIDS!!! Calvin can’t wait to ambush you again.

See you out there, Alejandro!

Gentle reminder: don’t forget health forms and shoelace guards.

Jacqui Hirshorn

Calvin’s Mom

From: FavoriteCoach@gmail.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:55 pm

Subject: No fighting over numbers

I’m sending a quick note about choosing your number. If you are picking up your uniform at the game, you do not get to choose. Choosing happened at the “meet and greet”. Now you get what you get, and that’s it. Like my wife, Missy, says, “Soccer is a life lesson for our kids. We win or we lose, and we don’t get everything we want, when we want it.” I could give you a list of things that I want and don’t get, and I’m still a happy guy!

By the way, Missy said to tell those of you who don’t know that I am Aiden’s dad. He made all-star last year and is an asset to the team.

Another ‘by the way’: I like to write my e-mails to parents and kids as if you are all the team, because really you all are—we can’t do it without the parents! It’s your choice about what e-mails you share with your kids or not!

Go Aiden and M Team!

Coach Randy

From: MSonnenklar@GSachs.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:57 pm

Subject: Re: No fighting over numbers

What numbers are left? Ben couldn’t make it because it was his mother’s weekend and she forgot. He shouldn’t be penalized.


From: MSonnenklar@GSachs.com

To: M Team list

sent Tues, Sept 7 3:57 pm

Subject: Re: Snack sign-up

Are we playing on the north field or the south? Please be clear this year.


From: Visorgrl@mac.com

To: M Team list

sent Tues, Sept 7 4:08 pm

Subject: Re: Snack sign-up

That’s a good point about the fields, Mark. Coach and I will try to tell you which field, WHEN we know which one it is. We don’t always KNOW ahead of time. So it’s good to get there early anyway. This Saturday will be North.

The numbers that are left are 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13. The Woo’s already contacted me about getting the number 7 for luck. Which is easy enough. Mark, do you want 10 like last year? Ben did pretty well with 10.

We’re still looking for that special dad (or Mom or older sibling who’s looking for something meaningful to do) who wants to be assistant coach. You don’t even have to go to the clinic. Coach Randy will get you up to speed.

Go Team M!

Jacqui Hirshorn

Calvin’s Mom

From: JWoo@DesignX.com

To: M Team list

sent Tues, Sept 7 4:14 pm

Subject: Re: Snack sign-up

Patrick would not be at the “meet and greet” for his violin concert. He can be early and will bring health forms. Also his idea for ‘M’ title.

Jung-ah Woo

From: FavoriteCoach@gmail.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 4:14 pm

Subject: Re: No fighting over numbers

Coach Randy, here. I’m at work and don’t have time to get into a big thing. I shouldn’t even be on my personal e-mail, but I’m just writing to say, that’s enough! No more numbers will be reserved.

Coach Randy

From: MSonnenklar@GSachs.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 4:17 pm

Subject: Re: No fighting over numbers


#10 is good for Ben.

Thanks for hanging onto it. Ben’s mom will be coming early to pick up the uniform.


From: ParadiseB@gmail.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 4:19 pm

Subject: Re: No fighting over numbers

Hi, I’m Dashiell’s mom. Did I miss something? I thought that we weren’t allowed to reserve a number if we hadn’t gone to the Meet and Greet. My apologies for not making it. My schedule changes all the time and I didn’t want to send the Nanny because it was specifically about meeting and greeting!

Since it appears that people are going ahead and choosing numbers, may I request 5 for Dashiell because it’s a prime number. He loves primes.

Beth Paradis

Diane’s hands hover over the keyboard. To jump into it or not? How can anyone give a serious fuck about jersey numbers?

She reaches for her wineglass. What she should do right now is get off the computer and not read any more e-mails. That would be the totally responsible, grown-up thing to do. She should pour her wine into the sink, get into some street clothes, and take a brisk power walk through the neighborhood. Then she should come home and read something intellectually stimulating before getting some tasty snacks ready for the kids when T drops them off tonight. That’s exactly what she should do.

She looks out the window at her possible power-walking path. The sidewalk running in front of neat lawns across the street. She gazes at the geometrically precise hedges that mark each lot. Then downs her wine.

From: DPlatt@ca.rr.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Tues, Sept 7 4:23 pm

Subject: Re: No fighting over numbers

Well, hell. What was the point of going to the Meet and Greet if everyone gets to choose their numbers anyway?

Joking. I’m joking.


From: FavoriteCoach@gmail.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Fri, Sept 10 8:41 am

Subject: Let’s pump it up for the big day tomorrow

Hey M Team!!!

OK, I guess that number thing got handled. Whatever, I can bend. Sometimes you can’t control everything. Jacqui, did you get all that about the numbers?

It’s a good thing I don’t have to handle the small stuff because I’m totally a big picture guy. I’m the guy with the vision that gets implemented. I mean, seriously, you should see my sundeck. It was just a dusty heap of nothing when we bought our place seven years ago, and now you can’t get people off of that deck. It’s like you’re on perpetual vacation out there, and it was totally my vision. Of course, hats off to my lovely other half, Missy, who drew up the design and had the idea for the stone fireplace in the middle. We went totally over budget, but when you are thinking about the rest of your life in front of that fireplace, you know you have to have it and you make it happen.

So the deck is like the team, and I’ve got a big-picture plan of how it’s going to look, but I need a Missy, or in this case, a Jacqui to actually implement it!

So, this is my big picture for tomorrow: We will get there early, get uniforms, pick our ‘M’ name, and get our heads in the right mindset to dominate.

Then Al will take us through drills, and if you want to pitch in for Al’s fee, see Jacqui. It’s totally worth it. We had a Brazilian semi-pro helping us last year and made it to the tournament. We would have had Paco again this year if Dan Majors hadn’t swiped him. As luck or fate, or whatever-you-call-it would have it, we’ll be playing Dan’s team for our second game this season. So that’s one you might want to focus your voodoo energies on. Just kidding!

When your kid gets up tomorrow morning, I would like you to read the following poem that was read by Morgan Freeman in the movie about the South African Soccer team who took a mediocre group and won the world championship. Words inspire!!!!

“Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.”

—I could not say it better myself. Go Team!!! Remember! There is more to winning than plain luck.

Coach Randy

From: MSonnenklar@GSachs.com

To: Beverly Hills Orange 10 M

sent Fri, Sept 10 7:20 pm

Subject: Re: Let’s pump it up for the big day tomorrow

North field. Still. Right?



COACH RANDY STANDS ON HIS deck wishing he were the kind of guy who smoked cigars. He should have a snifter of cognac too. That would complete the picture of a man at home, on his own deck in front of the outdoor fire pit, the sun sliding behind the row of trees that marks his property line, watching his younger wife play horseshoes on the recently mowed lawn with their ten-year-old son. But cigars make him nauseous. And cognac makes his throat burn so much that his eyes water and he looks like he’s crying. Instead, he has poured himself a glass of red wine from one of the leftover bottles in the kitchen. Make that two of the leftover bottles. He combined the remnants of both into one glass since no one was around to see him do it.

“Maybe Daddy wants to play,” Missy says loud enough for him to hear.

He twitches with annoyance, but checks it almost immediately. After all, he tells himself, the request is reasonable. Dads on decks should want to play with their sons in the yard. Especially so they can show their wives how great they are with kids and how athletic they are and, on top of that, how relaxed they can be when they’re not thinking about work or the bills. He watches Missy bend over to pick up a horseshoe, her tight, pale thighs ducking into her shorts; her shiny straight hair swinging.

“Be right there,” he says, setting his glass on the blond wood railing that Missy first showed him in an issue of Dwell. Seeing the gleaming oak rail has an almost medicinal effect, dissolving vestiges of irritation at the base of his neck. Now smiling big, he hops down, ignores the twinge in his knees, and runs over to clap Aiden on his shoulder blades. “Let me show you how it’s done, son.”

“Great,” says Missy, handing him her three horseshoes.

Randy stiffens. “I thought we were all playing.”

“I have to marinate pork.”

“Now?” he says, before he can soften his tone. He quickly tousles Aiden’s hair to keep it casual.

“It takes three hours,” she says, and turns to go. “You want to eat dinner at nine?” she adds over her shoulder, like it’s a preposterous thought and he’s an idiot for suggesting it. Randy looks down at Aiden, who peers back. Does the kid even want to play horseshoes? Randy sure as hell doesn’t. He feels the moment when each of them could acknowledge this and do something else slip by.

God damn it. He keeps missing his moments. He used to be a moment-grabber. But now, because of work, not hitting his numbers, the reorganization, and because of Missy not touching him lately, he’s off his game.

He watches Aiden turn his head toward the tree line.

All right. Shake it loose. Randy tosses two of the horseshoes aside and brings one up to his face like it’s a mustache. Squinting his eyes and pulling his lip back over his top teeth, he says in his best Chinaman, “I am Mr. Fu. World horseshoe champion. I here to give you great secrets of the toss.” And bows.

Aiden turns and looks at him, bringing his hand up to shade his eyes.

“Mr. Fu’s first secret: Keep wrist straight. Not floppy like that woman does.” He nods toward the house, then back at Aiden. “Mr. Fu say, that woman your mother, yes? She very beautiful.” Aiden shifts his weight, smiling or squinting. Randy can’t tell. “Tell me, honorable young man. Your mother. She is single, yes?”

Aiden looks down at the ground and says, “That’s so racist.”

Randy stares at the kid for a second, then drops his horseshoe mustache. “It’s just a joke.” He waits for Aiden to look up and give him a sign that he understands. But the kid only digs the toe of his shoe into the grass. “Okay. Okay. All I was trying to say was to keep your wrist straight as you toss.” He pulls back his shoe, keeps his wrist straight, and throws. It thuds onto the ground halfway to the stake. “Ha. Not like that, right? But you get the idea.” He hands Aiden a horseshoe. “Straight wrist.”

Aiden narrows his eyes at the stake, pulls his arm back, and underhands the horseshoe high into the air above him like a leaden pop fly. He looks up, standing under the soaring horseshoe, unmoving.

Split-second, Randy sees the horseshoe crest. And reverse. He grabs Aiden by the arm. Jerks him backward as the iron shoe plummets to the ground, right where Aiden had been standing.

“What the hell?” Randy yells.

“You said to keep my wrist straight!” Aiden screams back.

“Yeah, but you threw it way up into the air. You weren’t even throwing it at the stake.”

“Yes I was!”

“Aiden. The stake is way over there, for Christ’s sake!” he yells, pointing.

Aiden balls his fists, screeching, “I don’t even want to play this dumb game!”

“Well, neither do I!” Randy yells back. They face off, both breathing heavily. The boy glares at him, a bubble of snot inflating with each exhale, then disappearing on the inhale, only to blow up again. The kid is a mess. He needs a damn Kleenex. Randy kicks the horseshoes. “Forget it, then,” he says. “We’re not playing.”

“Fine.” Aiden turns and runs into the house. The kitchen screen door slams.

Randy imagines the scene inside. Aiden burying his face in Missy’s lap. Should he go in? No. That’ll make things worse. It’ll only result in more yelling, and he lets the thought go.

Instead, he goes over to the deck to retrieve his glass of wine, his pulse still jumping. He takes a sip. What the hell is it with Aiden? Randy bets that half the soccer team wishes he were their dad instead of the boring one they actually have. At the end of last year’s season, kids came up to him crying and hugging. Giving him Starbucks gift cards. That’s how much they were going to miss him. His Mr. Fu routine would have gone over gangbusters with those kids. They would be falling all over themselves to get horseshoe lessons from him.


  • "Paesel's book is compulsively readable."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Everything Is Just Fine is riveting, from Coach Randy's first hilarious e-mail to its stunning conclusion. Paesel is one of those rare writers who can make us laugh out loud while delivering a gut punch of truth at the same time." —Jill Soloway, author of She Wants It
  • "Everything Is Just Fine is wonderfully entertaining storytelling. There's pain at the core of the best comedy, and the yearning and falling short of these characters is put to great use in this comic epic. Maria Semple meets Almodovar, with the funniest e-mail exchanges ever. I loved it."—Bob Odenkirk, actor and author of A Load of Hooey
  • "An epistolary novel about life, love, and parenthood in shiny, sunny Beverly Hills, where everything isn't as Instagram-perfect as it seems."—Wednesday Martin, New York Times bestselling author
  • "Everything Is Just Fine is both laugh-out-loud funny and achingly astute. Brett Paesel has created a satirical masterpiece that's entertaining and suspenseful but also compassionate and wise, capturing the complexity of modern life."—Lori Gottlieb, New York Times bestselling author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
  • "I know Brett as an actor and a wit extraordinaire, and she brings the same caustic bite and joy to her writing. No observational stone is left unturned. Get ready."—Kathryn Hahn, actor and author of My Wish for You: Lessons from My Six-Year-Old Daughter

On Sale
Apr 9, 2019
Page Count
432 pages

Brett Paesel

About the Author

Brett Paesel is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestseller, Mommies Who Drink: Sex, Drugs, and Other Distant Memories of an Ordinary Mom (Warner Books, 2006). Her work has been published in numerous collections and national publications including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and Salon.com. In Hollywood, she has been a consulting producer on Amazon’s television series, “Transparent” and “I Love Dick”. She has developed and written shows for HBO, ABC, Fox, Comedy Central, WB, Lifetime and Nick at Nite. As an actor, she was a cast member of “Transparent” and HBO’s, “Mr. Show with Bob and David”. She lives in Los Angeles, with her husband and two sons.

Learn more about this author