Like other books by Matthew Quick, Every Exquisite Thing explores what it is to be an outsider of sorts. In this case, the narrator is contemplating the life she lives for others versus the life she wants to live for herself. I loved the idea – we are all forced to wear masks if we want to fit in. However, Quick’s writing can be a bit more demanding than the average YA. This isn’t a beach read, and it will ask too much of many readers, but for those who want an intense, thought-provoking story that refuses to follow the rules, this is your book. I gave it five stars.
Every Exquisite Thing publishes Tuesday, May 10, 2016. CORRECTION: the publication date was moved to May 31, 2016. I should have double checked against NetGalley.
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.
I think that many high school readers will connect with this book and its narrator. The central theme is one that many YA’s spend time considering: Do I conform or do I fight to be an individual? Nanette’s journey to decide that question is fraught with a realistic look at what society does to those who go their own way. It is at times contemplative, ridiculous, confusing, insightful, heartbreaking and heartwarming. You know, like real life inside your own head, but a little more dramatic. Matthew Quick has a knack for taking outsiders and easing audiences into an empathetic understanding of their perspective. I think this perspective is easier to embrace because who hasn’t played the joining game just to avoid grief? The plot was refreshingly unexpected and the characters were well drawn. I enjoyed it, and readers who don’t mind actually thinking about what they are reading will as well. Folks who just want a mindless YA contemporary need not apply. Language and situations are most appropriate for grades 10+, and adults will find it compelling as well.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.