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.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
How do I even begin to describe this book and my reading experience? It was important and inspiring, but in the most unassuming way. It’s the kind of story that slowly burrows its way into the depths of your heart and, before you know it, it’s the only thing you can think about. It was relatable and honest… and one of the best coming-of-age stories that I’ve read so far this year (and I’ve read a lot of beautiful coming-of-age stories this year).
“You can’t live for someone else. At some point you just explode, which is probably why you began spouting curse words like a Roman candle.”
But I don’t think I can adequately tell you what this book is about. We follow 18 year old, Nanette O’Hare, a soccer champion and straight-A student who’s always done what she’s been told to do. Living in the suburbs of New Jersey, she’s always conformed with what everyone else has done but when her English teacher gives her an out-of-print book to read, the fire and rebellion in her is brought to life… I think that’s probably all you should know. It was really the reading experience and the deep connection that I had with Nanette that made me love this book as much as I did. I really felt like I was there with her, experiencing her highs and lows, her confusions and reservations, her imperfections… And it was just impossible not to understand what she was going through because I’ve been through the same thing.
The characters were fantastic and I loved, loved, loved Nanette. She’s determined, strong, and has a good sense of morality. I loved her acts of rebellion, which were more acts of putting herself first than acts of rebellion. I loved that she didn’t know who she was or who she wanted to be but that it was okay. Her journey of self-discovery was just so relatable and interesting, despite sometimes being tragic and dramatic, and (I’m repeating myself a lot here) but I loved it so much. I also really liked the side characters and the role that they played in Nanette’s life. They each had an impact on her growth and I was constantly rooting for them too. I enjoyed and appreciated the role of Nanette’s parents and how they treated Nanette as she was discovering herself. They were supportive, rational and present, and I liked them a lot.
“It’s okay to love people who aren’t perfect. People who still have work to do on themselves.”
This novel is full of beautiful writing. There are so many quotable passages and I just felt so connected to the story, the characters and the messages through the powerful writing of Matthew Quick. It had beautiful flow and was extremely easy to read. There was also a lot of beautiful poetry in this book that really touched and moved me. I just really enjoyed it and finished the book in two short sittings.
If you’re looking for a short but poignant coming-of-age story, I highly recommend this one because it has a beautiful story, beautiful characters and beautiful writing.