Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

“I don’t believe in life after death or diuretics or happy endings. I don’t believe anything good can come from this.”

Riley Rose doesn’t want to be at Spirit Ranch Holiday Camp. Riley wants to be partying with her best friend Chloe at the beautiful Ben Sebatini’s house. She has a plan to get away from the jumpsuit-wearing counsellors, the feel-good mantras, do-gooder campers and the monotonous schedule of team-building exercises and outdoor activities.
But Spirit Ranch is not what it appears. Secrets abound — a missing shroud, an abandoned house, a boy called Bird, and why the hell doesn’t anyone want to talk about the accident that landed the mysterious Dylan in a wheelchair last year?

When I think of words to describe this novel, two leap out at me. The first is weird and the second is touching.
I hadn't heard of Simmone Howell before I got this novel, so I obviously hadn't read any of her books. But, I am very interested after reading Everything Beautiful in reading her first novel Notes from the Teenage Underground.
I think that Everything Beautiful takes a little getting into, but when you are sucked into the story you really feel like you need to get a blanket, curl up into a ball and read this novel. It’s a cute read, not too heavy but the story isn’t meaningless.
Riley Rose is the rebellious main character, a little bigger then the socially acceptable weight is thses days and full of personality. I found her a great MC and wonderful person to hear the story from. Even if she was a little odd.

"Mum used to say that anyone who used your appearence as ammo was the worst kind of bully -- weak and unimaginative."

I think that this story had a lot to say about looks being deceiving, especially in sex god Craig’s case. Who you think will be the love interest of the novel -- buff, perfect smile -- does he not suit the stereotype? But you find that the love interest is instead Dylan, the sad looking boy in the wheelchair. Dylan is beautifully wounded and he was the kind of hurt person this book needed to make it not only interesting and memorable.
Everything Beautiful is written very well and set up into intelligently planned sections. The novel revolves around Riley being sent to a Christian camp for seven days and is broken into seven day sections -- get it? I understand that the main character being sent to a Christian camp may turn someone who’s not into novels about religion off this book. However, Howell does a wonderful job of slipping religion into the novel, but not letting it take over the whole thing. The way other minor characters act and feel about religion at the camp is very well put into the novel as well as realistic.

"Sometimes -- usually first thing when I wake up -- I forget. I go to get out of bed and it's like a blind down or a slap around the head."

Riley is very influenced by her best friend Chloe, a total and utter party girl. Throughout the novel we hear Riley speak and think of her best friend in a realistic way that you would a person you admire. How Riley grows without her wildly confident and experienced best friend makes me smile and gives me this odd sense of closure. Riley grows a lot through this novel and I love that, because it was time for her to do so.
Riley and Dylan’s relationship is the kind of cute that makes you smile warmly. I love the way they acted around one another, how completely random and comfortable they were.
Howell does a great job of writing a story that makes you laugh and think, it’s a novel that I would recommend to any teenager looking for a novel that is thought provoking, but gives you room to laugh.

I’m giving this novel four out of five (I’ve given a lot of novels this score recently haven’t I?) it was a good and quick read that was fun and thoughtful.

*Don't forget to email me your thoughts on the novel Just Listen, ASAP.

5 Listener(s):

runa said...

It definitely sounds like something I'd want to read but, quick question, is the religion thing like...shoved down your throat, or can you still enjoy it if you're not religious?

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I know Simmone, but have yet to read any of her work. This does sound like a good book! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

And I'd write you about Just Listen...but I haven't read it, sorry!


Just Listen said...

You can definitely still enjoy it if you're not religious. All the comments and thoughts about religion from the other campers, I found, were very subtle.

Thank-you Lauren! You're amazing!

The Book Muncher said...

great review, i hope i get to read this one soon :D

Ruby said...

Sounds good. I will seek it out :)

Quick note: Do read Just Listen when you get the chance. It faces up to issues that are cautiosly approached, and, when approached, are generally done from a first person point of view (as in, the story comes from the person with the issue). This book's approach is a little different. I loved it :)

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