Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Everything Here Is Beautiful

Author: Mira T Lee
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
First Published: January 16, 2018
First Line: "A summer day in New Jersey."

Book Description from GoodReadsTwo sisters: Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister's protector; Lucia, the vibrant, headstrong, unconventional one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts to hear voices, it's Miranda who must fight for the help her sister needs — even as Lucia refuses to be defined by any doctor's diagnosis.

Determined, impetuous, she plows ahead, marrying a big-hearted Israeli only to leave him, suddenly, to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. She will move with her new family to Ecuador, but the bitter constant remains: she cannot escape her own mental illness. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until inevitably, she crashes to earth. And then Miranda must decide, again, whether or not to step in — but this time, Lucia may not want to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans, but what does it take to break them?

Told from alternating perspectives, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its core, a heart-wrenching family drama about relationships and tough choices — how much we're willing to sacrifice for the ones we love, and when it's time to let go and save ourselves.

My Rating: 3.5 stars

My Review: This is a raw yet sensitive look at mental illness. The reader is introduced to two sisters, Lucia and Miranda, but it is Lucia's struggle with mental illness throughout her adult life, that is central to the story.

It's soon evident how her mental health influences Lucia's life and the lives of her family and close friends. Readers will cheer when Lucia overcomes some of the obstacles that her illness presents, fear for her as her demons keep trying to bring her down and sympathize with Lucia's family and friends' feelings of love, frustration, concern and often impotence as they struggle to help Lucia.

Lee gives a clear description of a life with mental illness and I applaud her for not glossing over the difficult parts. Life is often about the gray areas in life, the complicated decisions, the little moments of clarity and the regrets.  Mental illness can be an all-encompassing struggle and I appreciate the realism that Lee brought to her story and characters.

But I had some issues with the book. I wasn't fond of the pacing which often lagged and the back and forth between the viewpoints feeling disjointed much of the time. Also, based on the book's blurb, I was expecting a much closer relationship between the sisters. Instead, they were apart much more than they were together with little page time devoted to Miranda. Readers are told of their bond but don't witness much of it.

Overall, this was an impressive debut that sensitively deals with the topic of mental illness. It isn't a happy read but the issues are important and more prevalent than many imagine. I hope this book raises sympathy in those untouched by mental illness and I think people who have experienced mental health issues in their family will empathize with some of the characters' experiences. 

Disclaimer: This ARC was generously provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. 


thecuecard said...

Nice job with this review. I just finished this novel and I'm still thinking what I feel about it. I agree that I thought there would be more interaction between the sisters and I wanted more about Miranda's life. But I did feel it showed that heartache & efforts & destruction mental illness causes on people's lives. It was quite an involved read!

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

I also liked how it showed mental illness and how it influences people's lives. I wasn't as invested in the story as I would have hoped. It certainly was eye-opening.

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