on May 31st 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Girls & Women, Romance, General, Social Themes, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Young Adult, Love & Romance, Social Issues
Reading Challenges: COYER Summer Vacation
Buy on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks
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 Bubblegum 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 but 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.
A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.
“Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”
Every Exquisite Thing was a different kind of read for me, as I usually don’t read contemporary novels. What drove me to picking it, was that it’s written by Matthew Quick, who wrote Silver Linings Playbook. I’ve been wanting to read that book for ages now, and love the film, so I decided to give this one a try. The story centers around a teen named Nanette O’Hare whose life changes when her favorite teacher gives her an old copy of his favorite book – The Bubblegum Reaper. This cult classic completely changes Nanette’s world view, causing her to go from all-star athlete to rebel. Her obsession with the book leads her to forging a friendship with the author, and a young troubled poet.
I really enjoyed Quick’s writing. It kept me invested as he wove this coming of age story of teen rebellion. I also loved that the characters are obsessed with a book, because I know the feeling. I have a few books that I’m completely obsessed about. I loved the idea of a novel bringing people together and changing their lives, even if it wasn’t necessarily to make it happier. Nanette learned some pretty important life lessons that I feel were important to learn, even though they were also quite painful. This novel made me think about life, and contemplate how I view the world. However, it also made me contemplate Nanette.
“Far too often people are woefully predictable. And I know many things. It’s a curse. Here’s something else I know. You are not doomed to be your parents. You can break the cycle. You can be whoever you want to be. But you will pay price. Your parents and everyone else will punish you if you choose to be you and not them. That’s the price of your freedom. The cage is unlocked, but everyone is too scared to walk out because they whack you when you try, and they whack you hard. They want you to be scared too. They want you to stay in the cage. For once you are few steps beyond the trap door they can’t reach you anymore, so the whacking stops. That’s another secret: they’re too afraid to follow. They adore their own cages.”
Nanette’s rebellion seemed kind of annoying once I got right down to it. She’s a privileged, upper middle class, white girl who has everything any kid could want. Great talent as a soccer player that has universities scouting her for a full ride scholarship. Not just for sports, but she’s an A+ student who also can get an academic scholarship. Her parents had good jobs, she has plenty of food, and even gets a car. While I can identify with a lot of this, I can’t identify with being white. Usually that’s not a problem for me in my reading, but I couldn’t understand what she was rebelling about. As her ex-best friend pointed out, Nanette isn’t any better than the kids she’s looking down on for being sheep. Like them, she’s a privileged, white kid who knows nothing about struggle. And all of the things she stressed about where the same things everyone else in her grade stressed over. If she hadn’t been so self-involved and selfish, she might have noticed. While reading the novel, I kind of felt like she was only rebelling, because she could.
Other than Nanette, I really liked the characters. They were all well-developed and complex. The novel is filled with many awesome quotes, and I enjoyed the story overall. I love books, and it’s always fun meeting a new person who does as well. Especially if we share favorite books. Literature can bring people together, but just because it does, doesn’t mean you’re exactly the same. A lesson Nanette learned the hard way. If you’re looking for a good read, then you may want to check this out. Maybe you’ll be able to identify with Nanette more than I could.