Everyone raves about books written by Matthew Quick, but to be shamefully honest – I’ve never read any of his books. I have a few of them for Kindle, but I’ve never really had the time to read them yet. So when I received an ARC of Every Exquisite Thing (thank you, Little, Brown!), which was one of the books on my I-really-have-to-read-this-as-soon-as-possible list, I was pretty darn excited to crack it open and discover this well loved author’s writing.
I wasn’t disappointed! Matthew Quick has a wonderful talent for storytelling, and it really shines in Every Exquisite Thing. This is such a great novel for anyone who has ever felt awkward, left out, bullied, or tired of trying to be perfect and please everyone else.
“‘Sometimes you have to fight against it,” Alex said. ‘If you don’t fight against it, you lose yourself.’
‘Fight against what?‘
‘Everything and everyone who makes you feel small, insignificant.'”
Nanette O’Hare is the perfect student – getting straight A’s, she’s a great soccer player – not to mention that her parents have never had any trouble with her. But after an incident with her teacher, who has also given her an old book that he loves, “The Bubblegum Reaper,” Nanette seems to think a little differently about the world. Nanette develops a bit of an obsession with the book and its characters, reading and re-reading and analyzing it quite a bit, and eventually she meets up with the author of the book, Booker, and the two become fast friends. While the book is now out of print, the author doesn’t want to discuss the book at all, and he makes that a stipulation of their friendship.
When Booker introduces Nanette to his friend Alex, who is also a bit of a misfit who loved the book and is a bit obsessed with it, the two of them hit it off and become fast friends. As that friendship develops into more, the two of them work together to solve a mystery in the book. Together, along with Alex’s friend, who is bullied often, try their hardest to figure out events and people in the book that they believe have a link to real people.
This book was such a perfect read for the time I picked it up. It was quirky, it was witty, and it was beautifully written. It was a book that delivers the message of how important it is to not just be what everyone wants you to be, but to be yourself, no matter what other people think.
Sure, it did have its weird segments, such as the while the first half of the book is told from the first-person point of view of Nanette, the second half switches to third person, with Nanette referring to herself as “Nanette”, “she,” “her,” etc. (which at first I found kind of off-putting, but it didn’t really ruin the book or anything), but other than that the book was quite an enjoyable read.
I enjoyed watching Nanette and Alex bond over the love of a book (it seems so rare that characters in YA novels actually read, so it was a nice treat). I loved how Nanette stood up for herself and decided to do what made her happy, even if it caused those around her to disapprove. Not only that, but her character really changes from the beginning of the book, before she reads The Bubblegum Reaper, until the end of the book, during which she had read it many times, been through a lot of emotions and self discovery, and figured out what’s really important.
Every Exquisite Thing is a heartwarming, brilliant read – perfect for people already fans of Matthew Quick, and great for getting hooked on this fabulous author’s talents!