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  • Published: 2 March 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775539
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $36.00

Everything Changes




'a fabulous read'

Buying a rundown motel to start a new life — what could possibly go wrong? In this funny and moving novel, prize-winning author Stephanie Johnson turns her wry eye on us.

‘What a fabulous read. Stephanie Johnson’s characters choose an old motel with little to offer except an amazing view in order to start a ‘new life’. Their first guests are a classic cast of the sorrowful and dysfunctional that every-day life throws at us these days. They are joined by their pregnant daughter, a mysterious young criminal from next door and a dog that knows more than all of them put together. The story is fast paced, and unpredictable, it’s smart, contemporary and heartbreaking all at once. And, just when it was about to make me cry, Johnson startled me into wild laughter. This is her best book ever, and I loved every page of it.’ – Fiona Kidman

  • Published: 2 March 2021
  • ISBN: 9780143775539
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $36.00

About the author

Stephanie Johnson

Stephanie Johnson is an accomplished writer whose work includes plays for stage and radio, poetry, scriptwriting and novels. She was shortlisted for the 1999 Montana Book Awards for her previous novel, The Whistler. Her novel The Hearts Wild Surf was a great success in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. She is co-founder of the Auckland Writer's Festival and the 2000 Katherine Mansfield Fellow.

Also by Stephanie Johnson

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Praise for Everything Changes

What a fabulous read. Stephanie Johnson’s characters choose an old motel with little to offer except an amazing view in order to start a ‘new life’. Their first guests are a classic cast of the sorrowful and dysfunctional that every-day life throws at us these days. They are joined by their pregnant daughter, a mysterious young criminal from next door and a dog that knows more than all of them put together. The story is fast paced, and unpredictable, it’s smart, contemporary and heartbreaking all at once. And, just when it was about to make me cry, Johnson startled me into wild laughter. This is her best book ever, and I loved every page of it.

Fiona Kidman

Its momentum aided by short chapters and changing points of view, Everything Changes is tragi-comic in its tone and delivery. Its litany of social issues as well as generational chasms, parental failure and loss; marital delusion and disenchantment, form a fraught emotional topography. The occasional absurdities of the novel's action and populace provide welcome respite and the result is something of a literary macchiato, a blend of bitter darkness lightened by a dash of soft steamy froth.

Rachel O'Connor, NZ Herald

The tone of Stephanie Johnson's latest novel tends towards the acidly funny. She is an insightful writer but also quite a cynical one, and when she turns her lens on New Zealanders, she is both amusing and merciless . . . In Stephanie's trademark salty-vinegary style, the author explores all their relationships and the way they spark off each other. This is a very contemporary novel, satirising much about the way we live today, with a brisk pace and a lot of wry humour. Everything Changes is a fun, fast read, although I found it difficult to like anyone much. even Muzza the dog!

Nicky Pellegrino, NZ Woman's Weekly

No one familiar with this Kiwi writer’s novels, plays or short stories will approach her latest work expecting a dull time. Stephanie really outdoes herself this time with a dysfunctional family who leave Auckland to turn a Northland motel into a luxury retreat. There’s a pregnant daughter back from LA, a dog who’s just eaten the neighbour’s $1000 cat and a rich American determined to kill himself at their retreat. Brilliant.

Sharon Stephenson, Woman (NZ)

The hard-won, capacious love in Stephanie Johnson’s newest novel, Everything Changes, is an antidote to the last year—and, for that matter, to the last 30 or so years. It’s been clear for some time to anyone who cares to pay attention that the world as we know it is falling away, as are the scales from our collective eyes. . . . The braided narrative makes it all the more poignant to witness each character attempting to translate their rich inner lives into halting communication with those around them. These characters’ interactions with those they love are, in the end, often just so much shadow boxing. They talk around each other, skirting difficult feelings, shunting complicated connections. The novel is a crazy quilt of interwoven stories by means of which we come to root for these complicated, flawed, endearing characters as they fumble their way toward lasting connection in a world turned upside down.

Maggie Trapp, Kete.co.nz

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” In Everything Changes, a black comedy that will keep you hooked to the last page, Stephanie Johnson takes Tolstoy’s immortal words and adds the rejoinder that unhappy families can complement each other’s sadness in the most unexpected ways. . . . The intersection of these seven disparate lives is dramatic and transformative, breaking some and remaking others in surprising and satisfying ways. Although told entirely in the first person, the narrative switches from character to character, providing alternative perspectives on events and hinting at backstories redolent with violence, grief and loss.

Cushla McKinney, Otago Daily Times

These may not be the most likeable characters but they are certainly fascinating and engaging; Stephanie Johnson is at her best as she reveals them in all their sad, funny, awful humanity. . . . Johnson takes a risk with both character and point of view. I was at first unsure of the wisdom of the brisk chapter changes from character to character and the use of first person for each character but she manages it beautifully. The pace rockets along with the reader caught up in the fast-moving, always surprising narrative. At the same time this choice of point of view slowly reveals the truth and nuances of character. . . . While there is violence, death and grimness, the novel also offers transformation and hope. . . . I loved the book. It's beautifully written with evocative descriptions of the landscape which holds them in all the chaos. It is funny and clever and sad. The pace takes you up and spins you along, while, at the same time you are caught up in the cataclysmic lives of those of us living in the 21st Century. Perhaps it will be all right. Perhaps they will be able to "regroup, rethink and start again." Perhaps, after all, this place of hill and heavy bush and clouds is "where we all belong."

Paddy Richardson, newsroom.co.nz

What a fantastic read. It made me laugh, it made me sad, and it made me think. . . . The story is told through multi characters and cracks along at a fantastic pace. You just never know what's going to happen when you turn the page.

Linda Hall, Hawke's Bay Weekend

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Everything Changes book club conversation starters

Stephanie Johnson shares discussion points and questions for her new book Everything Changes in this book club guide.

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