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 but 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.
A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.
The power of the written word is on full display as junior Nanette O'Hare upends her privileged, "normal" life after discovering an out-of-print cult classic. Countless rereads of The Bubblegum Reaper lead her to question her place in the world and everyone's expectations of her. She rebels by quitting the soccer team and distancing herself from her classmates in favor of befriending Booker, the book's elderly author, and Alex, another teenage Bubblegum Reaper fan. Alex is a talented poet but a troubled young man, and their ill-fated romance leaves Nanette struggling to move forward; halfway into the novel, she begins to speak and think of herself in the third person at the suggestion of her therapist, June, in an effort to "See self as someone else." Quick (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock) continues to excel at writing thought-provoking stories about nonconformity. As June says at one point, "Sometimes you just have to pick a direction and make mistakes." Through Nanette's eyes, Quick paints a compelling portrait of a sympathetic teenager going through the trial-and-error process of growing up. Ages 15 up.
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There is something beautiful in this book that stays with you for a long time after you've touched the last page. Nanette, Alex, and Wrigley are just names now as you read this review, but Matthew Quick has the strangely wonderful ability to write people. Real lovely people who become your friends no matter how one sided the conversation is. He has the ability to understand humanness in a way that gives me hope for the rest of us.