Friday, 23 September 2016

EVERY EXQUISITE THING by Matthew Quick

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. 


This month, I've read some really awesome Hachette books and wanted to keep the momentum going. So when I noticed this one on my bookshelf, I picked it up. This title happened to be one of those surprise books that I received but knew nothing about. So, I started reading it yesterday afternoon, you know, to try it out... an hour later I was still reading.

Yep. Hooked is the word I'm looking for.

Nanette O'Hare outwardly appears to be an average teenager. She's a good student, doesn't skip school, is a good daughter and happens to be one of the best players on the girl's soccer team. But she's really nothing like her peers.

She loves to read, doesn't relate to the other kids, feels disconnected from her parents even though she spends time with them, and doesn't like soccer. Oh, and she happens to have lunch with a teacher! Yep. She's definitely not like other kids, but has managed to cruise through eighteen years by living her life according to what others expect from her.

Well, until her favourite teacher gives her a copy of an out-of-print cult classic he claims changed his life when he was her age. The Bubblegum Reaper (I love this title!) is a thought provoking story that's often shared by teachers with their 'weird' students. And when that happens, their lives are never the same. They develop theories and so many questions, along with the need to rebel.

So when her teacher organises a meeting with the reclusive author, Nigel Booker, she jumps at the chance.

The real story behind the elusive book is stranger than fiction, and introduces Nanette to a new circle of friends she feels more connected to than anyone else. But when the passion of fiction and reality collide, there's no way of turning back...

Wow. This book totally took me by surprise.

The story starts out mainstream enough, but soon unfolds in the strangest, most wonderful and unexpected way possible. 

I love how Nanette, Alex and Oliver become friends even though they go to different schools and one of them is only twelve. I also thought that it was so cool that they all considered an old man to be their friend. Age was no barrier for any of these characters because they had a book in common. They also had their weirdness to share.

Another thing I really liked is how it deals with loners. So often, people who enjoy and choose to be alone are labelled as lonely or lost in loneliness. Almost as if they're this way because others have left them, when in fact that's not always the case. Sometimes, people are actually comfortable enough being on their own to do their own thing. But somehow, they get judged quite harshly because this is seen as challenging convention.

But as any good work of fiction does, this book takes the above concept and spins it on its axis. It introduces us to a bunch of memorable characters, and others who become collateral damage during Nanette's search for herself. They are all different, yet alike. Nanette is determined to learn how to become her own person without conforming. Alex is determined to use brawn in order to make things right and then writes a poem about it. Oliver is determined to be a good kid even though he gets bullied. Booker just wants to connect like minds and make people think.

No matter what each one wants or looks for, the reader is swept up along the way. There are moments of sheer joy, others that fill you with devastating sadness. There are even cringe-worthy moments, like Nanette's disastrous social experiment and the expectations placed on her from all angles.

Every Exquisite Thing is a total gem. It's odd, yet familiar. It's sad, yet full of heartfelt passion. I fell in love with this book almost instantly. It's an unconventional story that challenges the many conventions we all face every single day of our lives. Especially those of us who dare to be different and choose to travel our own path no matter what.

There's so much to love about this incredible book. SO MUCH. And that includes the adorable cover!

Yep. Thanks to Hachette Australia, I've found myself another keeper!

P.S. I also identify with Unproductive Ted. :P

Every Exquisite Thing, May 2016, ISBN 9781472229557, Headline

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