Book Buzz: Everything Here is Beautiful

A beautiful read, is how I would describe  Everything Here is Beautiful, the achingly touching story of two sisters and their complicated love for each other.Book Buzz: Everything Here is BeautifulWritten by Mira T. Lee, Everything Here is Beautiful delivers a powerful punch with its foray into the mind of a woman with mental illness, and the toll her disability takes on the ones who love her most.

Everything Here is Beautiful

Miranda and Lucia are Chinese-American sisters whose relationship is tested when they become young adults. After their single mother dies, Lucia, the younger sister, begins to hear voices and is ultimately diagnosed with mental illness. Miranda, the older, more conventional sister, feels a responsibility to monitor her sister’s activity even though they are separated by many miles.

Miranda knows that Lucia’s life is on a precipice because of her illness, and she despairs when she sees Lucia making what she things are the wrong choices: leaving her much older but stable boyfriend, going off her meds, getting pregnant. Miranda knows she must walk on eggshells around her brilliant but erratic sister. If she crosses the line and is perceived as being too pushy, Lucia will rebel, and ultimately withdraw.

As children, Lucia saw Miranda as her role model and protector. Now, she both loves her and resents her for interfering in her life. But Miranda perseveres, convinced that without her sisterly protection Lucia’s life will spiral out of control.

The characters are so unique and compelling, characters I am still thinking about, from impulsive Lucia whom you just want to hug and steadfast Miranda, the big sister everyone wants to have, to Yonah, the Russian Jewish amputee who owns a health food store and comes in and out of Lucia’s life, and Manny, the young Latino who is swept away by Lucia’s charms and only becomes aware of her illness after their baby daughter is born.

The minor characters, as well, are fascinating: Manny’s mother and extended family in Ecuador, the patients and staff at the mental hospital where Lucia is kept for several weeks, even the pediatrician whose name is Vera Wang.

With the narrative switching from one character to the next, we see the struggles through their individual lenses which adds depth to the story and gives us a clearer picture of the impact of Lucia’s illness. Lucia’s description of what she calls the serpents, or voices, taking over her life is particularly heartbreaking. Her narrative succeeds in explaining why she acted strangely, why her actions were perceived as crazy but made perfect sense to her.

As with other books I’ve loved, I had to slow down at the end because I didn’t want it to end. That’s how much I adored it. And the ending … well, it was perfection. Total perfection.

 

One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Everything Here is Beautiful. Please click on the Books is Wonderful Facebook page and leave a comment there. A winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.

 

I received a copy of Everything Here is Beautiful from Pamela Dorman Books/Viking for an honest review, which is the only kind of review I write.

 

 

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