Cover image for An egg on three sticks
An egg on three sticks
Fischer, Jackie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
viii, 309 pages ; 21 cm
In the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s, twelve-year-old Abby watches her mother fall apart and must take on the burden of holding her family together.
Reading Level:
890 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.8 12.0 78761.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.7 19 Quiz: 55909.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Central Library

On Order



Finally Abby is thirteen. A real teenager who only wants to pierce her ears, have a boyfriend, and run her own life. But when her mother suffers a nervous breakdown, Abby faces a life far different from what she hoped for. Set in the Bay Area in the '70s, An Egg on Three Sticks is Jackie Moyer Fischer's emotional, funny, and extraordinarily heartfelt novel about Abby's struggle to hold her family together, find love from a mother who has little to give, and simply try to be thirteen.

With a voice completely fresh and honest, Abby takes us on a journey that is often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, and overwhelmingly hopeful. But a journey no thirteen-year-old should have to take.

Author Notes

Jackie Moyer Fischer grew up in Saratoga, California, and McMinnville, Oregon. She graduated from Oregon State University (English) and Lewis and Clark Northwestern School of Law (J.D). She now lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and too many cats. She has made peace with the rain and now prefers it to sunshine.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

From the moment she catches her mother skinny-dipping alone in a neighbor's pool, 13-year-old Abby senses that something is fishy in France. As her mother Shirley's behavior becomes more erratic, Abby, her younger sister, and her father vacillate between denial and bewilderment until Shirley attempts suicide, spends a year in a mental hospital, and breaks apart again. In Abby's honest, unwavering first-person narration, Fischer wholly captures an early adolescent's voice: the staccato rhythms, run-on sentences, and made-up words ( grossamundo is a favorite) as well as the fact that Abby sees clearly (certainly more clearly than her father) but doesn't always comprehend. Like Karin Cook's excellent What Girls Learn (1997), Fischer's novel describes with astonishing, visceral detail a young adult's pull between the universal struggles of adolescence and the surreal anguish of losing a parent to illness. There is the private, almost comical rage (I'm so mad at Mom I could spit a big spitball right in her eye ) and guilt: I don't know if I want to see Mom. I am the worst daughter ever born. I feel like that girl Regan in The Exorcist. And in the big stomach clench and flat lungs that Abby feels around her mother, Fischer shows how the deepest, most terrifying truths are known before they are understood. An unforgettable debut. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2004 Booklist

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-Abby's mother is acting decidedly strange-skinny-dipping in the neighbor's pool at night, smashing bathroom mirrors, not taking care of herself or her family-but the teen is reluctant to discuss her concerns with her father. The woman's bizarre behavior escalates until, after an attempted suicide, she is institutionalized for an extended period. In her absence, the household rules begin to slip and Abby is confused as to what is expected of her. When her mother finally returns home, she is a different person and Abby desperately wants her "real" mother back. Now 14, Abby starts dating a boy of whom her mother doesn't approve, sneaks out at night to meet him, and has sex. Meanwhile, her mother commits suicide. Told from Abby's point of view, the book is written in almost a stream-of-consciousness style. There is little punctuation and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between her thoughts and her dialogue. The novel is set in the late 1960s or early 1970s, but the only way readers can tell that is by references to the Vietnam War and some of the music that's mentioned. This sad story is truly a tragedy, not only for the mother, but also for the rest of the family members who never discuss the problem, support one another, or seek help. It may be useful as a tool for counselors working with people in a similar situation or as material for discussion.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Excerpt from An Egg on Three Sticks by Jackie Moyer Fischer. Copyright (c) 2004 by Jackie Moyer Fischer. Published by St. Martin's Press. All rights reserved. Chapter 1 So I'm walking home from school by myself because it's Thursday which is my late day because of Girls' Glee Club after school which most other days I walk home with my best friend Poppy Cordesi who lives across the street and which her mom's divorced and no one knows where her dad is. I get to the top of our street which is a little hill and I look down on the ten houses, eleven if you count the Pierces' but they have their own private driveway which goes right out onto the highway. I look down at all the houses and they look normal as day but when I look at our house there's something different. Not a big different, just a little different, almost like how toast smells a little different right before it burns. I look at our dark brown house. We have the only dark brown house on the street. Every other house is white or beige or pale green but ours is dark brown with red trim, whoever heard of that, plus the red is faded to icky pink and which I have one word for that: grossamundo . Which is this sort of language Poppy and I made up but I'll get to that later. I look at the dark brown and the icky pink, and something is not right. It's not just that our car is gone, which it is, and which it shouldn't be on a Thursday at four-fifteen. Everything looks weird, the sun and the sky and the clouds and it's too warm for April which by the way is my favorite month because I just had my thirteenth birthday last week so I am now officially a teenager which it's about time. I walk down the hill and I tell myself I'm just making this up. There's nothing Except there's this thing in my stomach, this thing I get sometimes that I call the big clench only right now it's a little clench and I tell it to shut up, go away, there's nothing wrong. I walk past the Sullivans' house, then past the five peach trees that belong to the Sullivans but we can pick peaches whenever we want because there's just Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan and they can't eat all those peaches by themselves and there are four of us, Mom and Dad and me and Lisa who's seven, but really it's more like three and a half people because Lisa is such a puny little thing and really more like three because Mom hasn't been eating much lately. I get to our driveway and I stop and look at our front yard because even it looks weird. The clench in my stomach gets clenchier but I tell it to shut up. I tell myself it's just our plain old green lawn with the apricot tree and some flowers and six junipers along the fence, which Dad is threatening to take out the whole lawn and put in all junipers because he doesn't want to be a slave to that lawn anymore but then Mom always has to go lie down when he says that, but then she has to lie down a lot these days. I get to our front walk and there's someone in our front window who is not Mom. Which is weirdamundo. Now I definitely have the big clench. It's Mrs. Sierra in the window, Mrs. Sierra from next door who lives in a beige house with nothing but gravel for a driveway and who used to be a nurse with Mom in the olden days before Mom married Dad. Mrs. Sierra is this enormous woman with yellow skin who wears these tent dresses but is awfully, awfully nice , I mean you just have to like her because she's just so nice, plus you have to feel sorry for her because her son Jimmy is at this very moment over in Vietnam getting shot. I mean shot at. Mrs. Sierra sees me and opens our icky pink front door and her little black eyes look at me all serious and concerned , and her forehead goes into a deep V and she says, Oh Abby, and her voice is so low and sad that the big clench in my stomach is turning into a very big clench. 16 Because even though I'm pretending to myself that I don't know what's going on, I really do. No doubt about it. I know. I walk in and I say, Where's Mom? Like I don't know. Mrs. Sierra puts her big yellow arm around me and squeezes real tight and now I know for sure that something is wrong because it's one of those kinds of arm-hugs, the kind where there's something really, really wrong. So now I know for sure, that thing I knew at the top of the hill. Excerpted from An Egg on Three Sticks by Jackie Fischer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.