Monday, May 2, 2016

ARC Review: Every Exquisite Thing

Title: Every Exquisite Thing
Author: Matthew Quick
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 31, 2016
Source: Little, Brown for Review

Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

My Review

Every Exquisite Thing is the second novel by Matthew Quick that I've read, but it's the first YA book of his that I've actually read. I'd read The Silver Linings Playbook a few years ago, and based on what I thought of that book, I will confess that I had high expectations for this new book of his. I was so happy to find out that my expectations were met, and I found myself so absorbed in this quirky, funny, and emotional novel.

Nanette O'Hare does what is expected of her. She goes to school. She makes good grades. She is a star on the soccer team, and she's being scouted by many different colleges. The one thing that is different about Nanette is the fact that she doesn't enjoy eating lunch in the cafeteria with her peers. This leads her to eating lunch with her favorite English teacher, Mr. Graves, who doesn't enjoy eating in the teacher's lounge. The two have become close, so right before Christmas break during Nanette's junior year, Mr. Graves gives Nanette a well loved copy of his favorite book, The Bubblegum Reaper. This book changes everything for Nanette, and she soon realizes that maybe being the perfect daughter, student, and athlete is just a mask she's been using to hide who she truly is.

Just like The Silver Linings Playbook, I found myself really enjoying Quick's writing style. It's not flashy or flowery. Quick finds a way to tell Nanette's story that really reaches readers. It's easy to follow and entertaining. The cool thing about the writing style in Every Exquisite Thing is that there is a switch about halfway through that reflects what Nanette is going through. Quick goes from first person to third person, and it really helps readers understand and experience what Nanette is going through and how she is dealing with everything that has been thrown at her during her senior year of high school. 

For the most part, I really enjoyed the plot of Every Exquisite Thing. I'm always up for a book about mental illness, and Quick's latest shows the many different faces of teenagers living with some sort of a mental illness. I thought that this book was well crafted, and I think it felt extremely realistic. Even though it's very emotional, I really liked seeing all of the changes in Nanette, Alex, and Oliver. I also thought it was cool to see Quick's book mirror the book that the characters read - The Bubblegum Reaper. There were definitely a few moments of predictability in the book, but for the most part, this novel was highly entertaining. I was only a few pages in when I started thinking about how this book reminded me of two of my favorite books - The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Catcher in the Rye

I also enjoyed the characters in Every Exquisite Thing. Natalie wasn't the typical YA heroine that I've come across in many young adult books because she felt like a character that didn't just relate to females. Her story is also one that could happen to anyone, so it was nice to see a female character that could really be a voice for everyone. She has a lot of reader appeal, and I can see so many readers really enjoying her story and who she is as a character. I also really liked the supporting characters Alex and Oliver. Both of them were good to Nanette, and both of them teach her things that will stick with her.

There are also some adult supporting characters in this book, and I think that Matthew Quick did a great job at writing them. At first, Nanette's parents are a little oblivious to what's really going on in her mind, but it's mostly because Nanette doesn't really know how to express who she truly is. I think Quick did something magical by including parents who learn from the situation they find themselves in with their daughter, and I'm so happy that I've found another YA novel with parents who are actually present. Nanette also befriends the author of The Bubblegum Reaper, and their journey is one that is full of both hilarious and serious moments. 

If you're looking for a great coming-of age novel that is reminiscent of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, look no further than Matthew Quick's Every Exquisite Thing. The book entertains readers with its emotionally realistic story, but it also teaches readers to be careful about emulating fictional heroes. This is one book that you won't want to miss out on this spring.

Matthew Quick is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels, including THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, which was made into an Oscar-winning film. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages and has received a PEN/Hemingway Award Honorable Mention. Matthew lives with his wife, novelist/pianist Alicia Bessette, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

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