If you want to cleanse your… brain? palate? brain-palate? of the hellstorm that was 2017, this book is an excellent way to kick off the new year.
Everything Here Is Beautiful is the story of two sisters, Miranda and Lucia. Since childhood, Miranda has been the careful and responsible big sister, Jie, while Lucia has been the cheerful and impulsive little sister, Mei. But Lucia occasionally has episodes where she has violent mood swings, hears voices, and becomes increasingly paranoid. Miranda, frightened at what could happen to her baby sister – and, perhaps, what her baby sister could do to others – stresses the importance of medication. Lucia, however, stubbornly refuses to let her mental illness affect her life. But as she makes a series of sudden decisions – a marriage to an older man, a baby with an illegal immigrant, a family move to Ecuador – the question of what is due to her personality and what is due to her illness arises. Her bond with her sister also begins to fray as Miranda wearies of coming to the rescue and she becomes resentful of Jie’s interference. You will race to the end to discover what happens.
A deeply compassionate story told engagingly from multiple perspectives, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, simply, beautiful. If you enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere or Stay with Me, I highly recommend you pick up this book.
(A thank you to Penguin Random House/First Reads for allowing me access to a digital galley. I really hope this book does well!)