EVERY EXQUISITE THING
by Matthew Quick
Grade Level: 10 and up
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown (May 31, 2016)
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.
WOW. What a book. This one pleasantly surprised me. I enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook but it was not one of my all time favorite books. It was a tough story to read. Matthew Quick keeps true to form and does not shy away from hard topics.
This is the story of Nanette O'Hare, a high school teenager simply going through the motions of her life, drifting through each day doing simply what is expected of her. One day, out of nowhere, one of her favorite teachers gives her a copy of a cult classic book, The Bubblegum Reaper. This book ends up changing Nanette's life. She becomes obsessed with finding the author and when she does, they become immediate friends. Nanette also meets a troubled poet and she starts on a journey towards discovering who she really is and her place in the world.
Quick has an uncanny talent for writing and developing amazingly complex and beautiful characters. The characters in this story are what make this story stand out. Nanette is such a misfit and difficult character that I fear not everyone will connect with her. She had so many expectations placed on her that it was suffocating. She had to come out of her shell and figure out what she wanted for herself.
The fact that Quick explored the additional topics of teen bullying, grief, family breakdown and social dynamics and isolation were incredibly refreshing. He talked about privilege being a type of weight around Nanette's neck, constantly being held over her. I can't remember the last time an author chose to take on that topic.
Overall, Quick hit it out of the park with this book. This was a 4.5 star read for me. It was a quick read, but a powerful read. I hope everyone adds this to their TBR if it isn't already there.