Sunday, 25 December 2016

Every Exquisite Thing - Matthew Quick

I took so many pictures of this book
In better lighting
But this is where I finished reading it
Near 2AM on Christmas night.
'And I thought about my parents being maps who lead me to places I didn't want to go -- and it made a shocking amount of sense, using the word maps to describe parents. It almost made you feel like you could fold Mom and Dad up and lock them away in the glove compartment of your car and just joyride for the rest of your life maybe.'

Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick's newest young adult novel that came out last summer. Since I really liked The Silver Linings Playbook and since I've been casually piling up the rest of his novels in my book shelf, I convinced my boyfriend to buy this one for me. ♥ And I finally finished it now that I'm back home for the holidays, hooray!

So. Nanette O'Hare, 18, has always done what's expected of her. She's never acted up, and she plays in her high school football (soccer as the Americans in the book insist on calling it) team and she's really good at it. She doesn't even like it.

Then she reads a book given to her by a teacher she really likes, a long ago out-of-print novel called The Bubblegum Reaper that ends up transforming her whole life like a parasite. She befriends the reclusive author of her new favourite story and he in turn introduces her to Alex; another troubled young soul that got something real out of the novel. Together, they want to solve the mystery of the novel, but also the mysteries of themselves. Also, they talk about books and poetry and life. There's also a lot of side stuff definitely worth getting into, but I won't describe that because finding out is part of the fun.

I never liked Alex much as a character. He was probably okay and really not badly written but just not my cup of tea in the slightest. He was too violent and too off the handle. He was also broken and really needed help and it should have probably made me sympathise but it didn't. Nanette I liked. She knew she wasn't the same as other people in her football team, but she never thought it made her somehow superior to the others, and that was really cool. I really liked the way Nanette's parents were written. At first they were a bit absent but when they realised Nanette needed them, they were very attentive and really did their best to help. I don't think we get enough of parents acting like parents should in ya novels these days.

When it comes down to style, this book is easy to read. The chapters are short and interesting and provided enough variety to keep me interested, much like how I remember finishing The Silver Linings Playbook three years ago in a hotel room in Vienna because I could not put it down and I had to know more and everything right now. The style of this book wasn't too heavy or too light, and it flowed nicely. The Bubblegum Reaper itself is also a very interesting story and I enjoyed that. It's pretty cool when you have a book in a book that's made to sound so good that you want it to be real. There's also some cool poetry within the pages of Every Exquisite Thing and sometimes I felt like I was studying more than one piece of art at the same time.

Like I said when I read Sorta Like A Rockstar by the same author, I was a bit annoyed by how American this book was. Less so than the previous example, thankfully. That one had USA coming out of my ears by the time I was 2/3 of the way through. But like, I suppose I lost some degree of enjoyment I would have had if this book wasn't set in Generic American High School That's Like Every Other American High School Ever #67548392045. I'm bored. I know why people complain about high school stories so much. I love reading about youth but the high school, it's all the same. Also!! Unlike Sorta Like A Rockstar, this one doesn't have an eye roll-causing ending. Awesome!

By the by, my mum always says about some movies I like that they're affectionate songs about the freedom and the insanity of being young. I feel like this book is one of those too. It celebrates how no one seems to know where they're supposed to be and how that's okay. It celebrates the recklessness and the insanity of losing yourself, only to find something new. At some point it felt almost hopeless, like the book was never going to amount to anything but endless depression, but that's part of it too. That's life, that's youth. You don't have to know where you're going just yet.

I suppose it is most likely Mr. Quick will never write another novel I'll love quite as much as The Silver Linings Playbook (though I do think it would help if he wrote more for adults and less for the me of right now), but I'm surprisingly okay with that. All in all, this one was a solid, thought-provoking read that I'll be delighted to give a 4/5.

Also, Merry Christmas!
I really really want to read more Finnish stuff in the upcoming year since it's a hundred years for this fine country, so wish me luck!

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