Every Exquisite Thing - Matthew Quick

Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking 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--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

You may call this melodrama, but I call it hormones, angst, and trying to discover a place in the world... basically an average teenage experience! Nanette goes from being a star soccer player, a popular girl, and a conformist, to a tortured rebel and self-aware individual. Of course, along the way she makes mistakes, alienates friends, brings new people together, hurts others, and loses some entirely. And all of this comes about because of Mr. Graves, Nanette's teacher, who gives her an out-of-print copy of Nigel Booker's The Bubblegum Reaper.

This book has a lot going on, and I don't want to spoil anything, so this review will be brief. Needless to say, this book contains Quick's signature writing, consisting of fully constructed and broken characters, celebrations of life through examinations of literature, and discoveries about what it means to be a human being in a messed up world. Nanette is a character who readers will sometimes love, and sometimes not--she is at times infuriating, and at other times completely sympathetic. Alex is tortured and rebellious, also having been influenced by Nigel Booker's novel, but to a much greater extreme than Nanette. Oliver, Alex's "little brother," helps Nanette to discover more of her potential, but does not simply serve as a crutch. He is a fully developed character all his own.

This is not a simple read, and it's not a super happy fun romp (though there is a lot of humour), but a beautiful and multi-layered experience that readers will hopefully appreciate with the same open mind that I did. I would definitely recommend this for teens and turtle lovers alike. It's certainly a book you won't be able to easily forget!

Highly Recommended


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