Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell

Riley Rose, atheist and bad girl, has been tricked into attending Spirit Ranch, a Christian camp. There she meets Dylan Kier, alumni camper and recent paraplegic, who arrives with a chip on his shoulder and a determination to perfect all of his bad habits. United in their personal suffering and in their irritation at their fellow campers, they turn the camp inside out as they question the meaning of belief systems, test their faith in each other, and ultimately settle a debate of the heart.

My Review

I really wanted to like this book.  It was the first Australian novel that I picked up for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge 2011 and it was supposed to inspire my new-found appreciation for Australian authors.  However, I can't say that I was a big fan of this novel and neither have I been inspired to embrace Australian novels as I had hoped.  I didn't hate the book but nor did I really enjoy reading it.

This is a coming of age novel about an overweight teenage girl, Riley, whose mother has died and father is estranged.  Riley copes with her pain using sex, drugs, food and a false bravado.  Throughout her time at camp she makes some unexpected friends and learns more about herself than she had ever expected.

The messages of positive self esteem and true kindness throughout this novel are encouraging but not enough to make for an enjoyable read.  I found the writing and flow of this book quite frustrating.  The chapters were far too short to really engage me: just as I began to enjoy a chapter it would end.  Also as much as I tried to warm to the characters, I couldn't: they keep making decisions that I either couldn't relate to or didn't understand. 

Unfortunately, I'll need to find another Australian author to inspire my reading of Aussie novels. 


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