Author: Matthew Quick
Source: Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Blurb: 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.
When I was younger my brother gave me a keyring that said "You are unique. Just like everyone else." Of course, being kids, we thought it was just a joke. It's only more recently that I've begun to see the truth in the phrase. I am unique. But so is every other person. And that is, perhaps, my main problem with Every Exquisite Thing.
The main character - Nanette - has a habit of seeing herself as special, different, "weird" (in a good way of course) and everyone else at her school is normal and boring and all somehow the same person. And this annoyed me a lot. More and more as the book went on. She has a "best friend" Shannon who Nanette constantly looks down on. Because Shannon is interested in make-up and boys and has a goal for her future that is normal and parent-approved. Shannon definitely had her issues, and she certainly wasn't always the greatest friend but as a character I found her more sympathetic than Nanette whom I just found to be selfish. As one of the characters says towards the end of the book "I feel sorry for you. I've never met a more selfish person."
I liked the plot of the book and some of the over-arching messages, especially some of what June said, were important and are what took this book from one star to two. But it just wasn't enough to compensate for a main character I actively disliked and side characters who were only ever what Nanette saw them as.
I also had a lot of problems with Nanette's relationship with Alex. Some of these were explained as the book went on and the revelations she had in the last chapter were good. It was definitely not a healthy relationship - although it is never portrayed as such which I liked. I did find it very weird that every single one of their conversations was deep and profound. I agree that you need to be able to talk openly to someone you are with - but they never had an ordinary conversation. Not one. It felt very weird and unnatural and so many of their dates and interactions felt more like therapy or a philosophical debate and it makes both characters feel pretentious.
There are a lot of great reviews out there for this book and reading them makes me feel like I missed out somehow. And maybe I did. Maybe I am just not deep enough or "weird" enough to enjoy this book. With a different main character this could have been a book I would love but Nanette and her outlook on life frustrated me and went over my head and so I'm left feeling - nothing towards this book.
I wanted to like Every Exquisite Thing. I enjoyed The Silver Linings Playbook after all and there were a few brief moments where this book seemed to click into place for me. Only to come apart again as Nanette acted selfishly - hurting those around her and excusing it as letting out her inner "rebel".