Tag Archives: Sisters

Book Buzz: Everything Here is Beautiful

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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Book Buzz: Under the Harrow

If there is a season for good reads, it is certainly summer. Have I got a juicy one for you.

Book Buzz: Under the Harrow

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry starts off, as all good psychological thrillers do, with a sense of normalcy. Nora, the narrator, is boarding a train in London to go visit her sister Rachel in the countryside as she often does. Her mind wanders as she muses about the mundane: her job, old conversations, the sisters’ vacation in Cornwall, the scenery out the window.

She reaches her destination and finds that Rachel and her dog are not there waiting. Nora figures Rachel has been stuck at work and sets off for the house by herself.

What awaits her is a ghastly scene. Rachel is the victim of a brutal murder.

Under the Harrow

By definition, under the harrow means distressed and in peril. In the aftermath of her trauma, Nora struggles to gather her wits so she can be helpful to the police. She is skeptical that they are on the right track, however. Rachel had been the victim of an assault years ago, a case that has gone unsolved. Was this perpetrator the same? Was it the married neighbor, a handyman, who had done work in Rachel’s house and was the last one to see her alive? Was it any one of the townspeople whom Nora regards with suspicion? By obsessively tracking down the killer she finds a way to work through her grief.

This is Berry’s debut novel, and she is a gifted writer and storyteller. Her prose is spare and powerful, and as the story unfolds we learn much about the tender, fiercely loyal, complex relationship between the sisters.

Under the Harrow is an emotional, suspenseful story that is as much a study of the bond between sisters as it is an absorbing murder mystery.

Who doesn’t love a page turner? Slap on your suntan lotion and enjoy this engrossing summer read.


One of my lucky readers will receive a copy of Under the Harrow. Please leave a comment and a winner will be selected randomly. USA addresses only, please.


I received a copy of Under the Harrow from Penguin for an honest review,
which is the only kind of review I write.

If you love my work, please share it!