Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick

10 May

29325757Format: e-ARC, 272 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

To Be Published: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 9781472229557

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: From the bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes a heartfelt and unexpected novel in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working 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—the 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 sometimes rebellion 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.

My review: I hadn’t read anything by Quick before, but really enjoyed the Silver Linings Playbook movie so was keen to get my hands on an ARC. This started off a bit like The Fault in Our Stars without the cancer: teen reads book, becomes obsessive about it, and tracks down author, who doesn’t ever want to talk about it again. He does, however, encourage Nanette to question her life, in particular why she plays soccer – a game she is good at but doesn’t particularly enjoy. Like the hero in his book, she decides to quit, and thus begins a journey of – ultimately – isolation and loneliness. She meets Alex, another fan of the book, who writes poetry and becomes her boyfriend, but his choices have tragic results and leave Nanette pretty much on her own.

I enjoyed this book a lot until Part Two when Nanette became more isolated. While I appreciated what Quick was trying to do, portraying a privileged girl questioning her blind acceptance of her parents’ choices for her, as a parent myself I was just concerned for her mental health. I didn’t much like her once she started talking in the third person, and her experiment with the cool kids had me horrified. The themes here are serious and not for younger readers; there is teen pregnancy and drinking, bullying, death, and some quite strong language. There is also Pat Benatar, so it’s not all bad. Overall, not quite what I was expecting – no swoony boys – but quite a lot to think about.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Writing for the Pop Culture Literate.

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