Book of the Month: Everything Here is Beautiful

Come hell or high water, I will post the book of the month for September. Yes, yes I will. The book of this month is a novel by Mira T. Lee, which I completed in three days. I am very reluctant to include this fact because sometimes the invisible competition about how long it takes to complete a book that people engage in is not my cup of tea. But this one was special circumstance, and little things like me telling myself I must finish a book and actually finishing it reminds me that if I put my mind to something, then I can most likely accomplish that thing. And I think same goes for most people too; this is of course with reason. Do NOT build castles in the air.

Inspiration over. Everything Here is Beautiful is a story about the relentless bond of two sisters and how they cope with one's struggle with mental illness. In some sense, when you read the book, you will agree though only one person has the mental illness, both of them suffer tremendously. These two sisters are daughters of a  Chinese Immigrant, and because of this we see the role of many poignant themes all through. The most interesting thing about it though is how two sisters born of the same parents can be so different. One sister, Miranda is calm, responsible, has a steady career and marriage. The younger one though (and in real life, it is ALWAYS the younger ones lol) is more headstrong, more of a free spirit, lives life on her own terms, and unfortunately has to deal with mental illness. In fact when we meet her, she is married to a "one-armed Russian Jew". Yup. The pattern and relapse of her crisis shapes both her relationship with her sister and the entire book. Through this book, we see the dynamics of mental illness; its effect on the family and its destructive powers.

"Later, I would be told I had a twenty percent chance of maintaining a full-time job, a twenty-five percent chance of living independently, a forty percent chance of attempting suicide, a ten percent chance of succeeding. I was twenty-six years old."

I'm going to be honest that what sold me on this book was that it was about sisters. That was enough for me. I love anything that celebrates the ferocious and beautiful bond and love of siblings. But I wasn't expecting this type of book. Now, I did not like this book at first. Perhaps because I was rushing but it felt rushed, and I did not like the pace. At some point, it seemed like the author was rambling. This might also be because she told the story from different points of view. By itself, this was actually a genius idea; you know I love this idea.  But just felt like she was trying to get some parts of the story over with. And some of these parts she really could have done away with. There was a lot lot of quotidian events. Like okay, they had dinner and so? But isn't that what a great story is about? The ability to narrate the seemingly ordinary in a way that makes you feel a part of their lives. I also never felt like a part of any of these characters, and this is not because Lee did not painstakingly narrate the ordeals of mental illness; she did. I just could not break through.

Okay Ife if you did not like this book, why is it the Book of the Month?

Because it truly is an amazing book. The themes she explores, the author, and the story. In the last few pages of the book, I actually cried. And a book that gets me to cry is one helluva book. It's heart-wrenching; tells an unusual love story filled with passion, pain, forgiveness. It is insightful, and incredibly complex. What's not to love?

In addition, there was not great attempt to paint characters as either good or bad. In real life human beings are more complex than that binary classification. Sometimes, we are good and kind and forgiving. Other times, not so much. I think you will learn a LOT about mental illness, and the more we can learn about that, the better we can all be.

So anyway check it out, and let me know whether you enjoy it.




  1. So the other half of our book blog really liked this book and I read it because of her and I just lost interest somewhere along the line. Like by all accounts, the premise of the book is so promising and has all the elements I like in a book. I really thought I would be into it but alas.

    1. Hahaha. You know, I know what you mean about the book. That's why I made sure to include the things I didn't like about the book. I can definitely see it going the other way, with someone just not being able to get into it.