Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Everything Here Is Beautiful

Mira T. Lee

Told in alternating points of view, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, the story of a young woman's quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness.

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‟A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters.”—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

“There's not a false note to be found, and everywhere there are nuggets to savor. Why did it have to end?” --O Magazine

“A bold debut. . . Lee sensitively relays experiences of immigration and mental illness,  . . . a distinct literary voice.” –Entertainment Weekly

“Extraordinary. . . If you love anyone at all, this book is going to get you.” –USA Today

A dazzling novel of two sisters and their emotional journey through love, loyalty, and heartbreak


Two Chinese-American sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth.
 
Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again—but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans—but what does it take to break them?
 
Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it’s also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone—and when loyalty to one’s self must prevail over all.


Advance Galley Reviews

Everything Here is Beautiful is a potentially powerful book about mental illness and its impacts that conveys the idea but not its full emotional impact. The narration of the book moves between time periods and narrators, making the story at times difficult to follow and the emotional thread even harder to hold on to. The story line of immigration becomes a second focal point in the book, distracting from and competing with the depiction of Lucia's story. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/03/everything-here-is-beautiful.html. Reviewed for NetGalley & Penguin First to Read program.

This is a wonderful book. I loved the characters and the bond between Lucia and Miranda. It is a story immigrants and sisters and about the impacts of mental illness. Ms. Lee's portrayal of mental illness is heartfelt and honest. It's a beautiful work of fiction. The alternating perspectives gave the story greater depth. I would highly recommend this book. It is very well-written.

Amazing book! I would be as bold as to say this is probably the BEST book written about what a family deals with when someone they love suffers from mental illness. I loved the characters and the dynamics. I enjoyed the roller coaster of a love story that was intertwined. All around wonderful book! Five stars!

I confess I had a little trouble getting into this book because I thought Miranda, who dominates the narrative in the beginning, to be inaccessible. She's difficult to relate to, which kept me at arm's length from what was happening. As you get into the novel other people join the narrative, and this is when things really pick up. They have fascinating stories, and I loved getting swept away in their lives. Everything Here is Beautiful is like a gorgeous jigsaw puzzle, fitting unlikely lives together. The central sister relationship, which is the selling point of the book, never really came together for me, but there's still much to savor here.

I had high hopes for this book, but it just fell short for me. I enjoyed the story about the two sisters, and their family dynamics. Accepting and dealing with mental illness is never easy. I just didn't enjoy the characters themselves. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this book.

A wonderful novel that engaged my full attention throughout! Mira T. Lee deserves accolades for portraying mental illness so beautifully and with such understanding! As someone who suffers from mental illness myself, I particularly identified with Lucia, and I felt touched by the bond she shared with her older sister, Miranda. I, too, have an older sister who is my protector and best friend, and I understand the precarious position she is in of having to watch me struggle internally while, ultimately, feeling utterly helpless herself. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to everyone who has either dealt with mental illness personally or cares for someone who does. I also recommend it highly to anyone who is unfamiliar with mental illness and its challenges and would like to know more about it. One of the best books of 2018! An absolute must-read!

Mira T. Lee's debut novel is gripping and eye-opening. Everything Here Is Beautiful is about two sisters, Miranda and Lucia, and how their lives are affected by Lucia's mental illness. It includes not only their perspectives, but also other insightful characters. Lucia is a fascinating character, and I liked her perspective the most - her identity as a Chinese-American, as a woman, as a writer, as someone with a mental illness. Every character's voice felt distinct and realistic. I know that I'll continue to think about this book for days.

Thank you so much to First To Read for allowing me the chance to read this early. It was such a great book! Sometimes, I felt as if it was slow. But the awesome thing was the rotation between characters in telling their story. Lee wound their stories, step but step, with ease to get all perspectives of the story. It was awesome to see Miranda and Lucia’s relationship as well as those Lucia came in contact with. It truly show s how mental illness touches everyone, both friends and family. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s a wonderful book!

A tale of two sisters told from multiple points of view about how they grow apart due to one's mental illness. "Everything Here is Beautiful" has a genuine tone that makes the story believable and interesting as Lucia descends into a world where she hears voices and suffers paranoia. Through it all, she marries and has a child and moves to foreign countries all the while pulling and pushing away her sister. Miranda, Lucia's older sister, is torn between the love she has for her sister and the weariness of someone who can only help so much. As she navigates her own life which seems more stable compared to Lucia's, she must ultimately find a way to keep Lucia's life close and watched while keeping balance on her own. In dramatic scope, the story unfolds right to the last page where everything comes to together to give the title its namesake. A good, heartbreaking novel.

I had an issue with my Bluefire Reader and lost this book so I’m unable to review it

This book was a exploration of a family dealing trying to cope with their own lives, while dealing with a family member with mental illness. Two sisters were bound to each other, despite their differences. It was a beautiful story about an important issues, but I felt it moved very slowly at times. By "sticking to it" and wandering through the story, I found a strong wrap-up and reflection on the difficulties the sisters faced.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira Lee. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to read this book as life took over and the download expired before I could read it. I will have to put this on my reading list to purchase and read.

A realistic look at mental illness and the effect it has on not just the victim, but all those that love them. Miranda takes on the stressful task of keeping her sister Lucia on her meds, sometimes at the expense of her own personal life. Lucia, as many suffering mental illness fights the boredom and flatness of life on her meds and longs for the highs and lows of med free living. However, the lows of life bring danger to Lucia and others, so Miranda feels the burden of forcing the meds. With chapters alternating between characters, it is easy to see the conflicts that both sisters have with each other and within themselves.

Told from different view points, this look at mental illness feels true and important. The bond between sisters, the quest to find a life despite extraordinary hurdles, and the wreckage left in the wake of any illness was done in an interesting way.

Mira Lee's novel "Everything Here is Beautiful" is a powerful description of mental illness and its effects on the lives of not only the person suffering from it, but how it touches the lives of anyone else who loves that person. Mira creates characters that are lovingly described and the reader becomes quickly invested in their happiness and pain. I saw the real life struggles of a friend mirrored in Miranda's concern to care for her sister as well as live her own life. Lucia's own battles with recurring schizophrenia and its treatment speak to the very current need for mental health services in our country. This book is a must read for any family member, friend, caregiver or sufferer of mental illness in order to help understand the illness and how it controls everyone's lives.

Everything Is Beautiful is, simply, beautiful. I was honestly expecting an immigrant story, but what I found was what I think of as a "domestic thriller" along the lines of Stay with Me. Both novels explore the devastating effects that a loved one's disability can have on family, friends, and lovers. In Stay with Me, the condition was infertility. Here, it is mental illness.

Lee's portrait of Lucia and those who love her is impossibly honest and full and on the whole, yes, beautiful. Lucia suffers from what's diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder, a mix of schizophrenia and bipolar, or one or the other, or somewhere in between. She's kind and affectionate and passionate and enthusiastic, except when she isn't. Everyone loves her, except when they don't. The three who endure, who stick by her in varying degrees, are her husband whom she left, her lover and partner whom she tried to leave, and her sister Miranda, whom she repeatedly orders out of her life. Miranda feels responsible for Lucia and guilty about her whenever she suffers. The chapters are labeled by their point of view, since it keeps changing, from Miranda to Lucia to Yoni (husband) to Manny (lover), first person to third person, present tense to past tense and back. Everyone is confused. Everyone screws up. Badly. Everyone tries to make the best of everything. Everyone wonders how life might be different if only. There are a number of bigger issues that come up in the course of the story, but in a very reasonable this-is-just-life way, not centrally. Lucia and Miranda are Chinese-American, and their mother immigrated to the US to get away from something a little mysterious until it's fully revealed in the last chapter. Manny is an undocumented immigrant in the US, until he and Lucia and their daughter leave to return to his home country. Yoni is an entrepreneurial immigrant who is enthusiastic but runs into significant problems in his new country. Miranda's husband takes her to his home country of Switzerland. The characters are assembled from all over the world, as you might expect in a New York setting, but they also return to those disparate places, traveling back and forth as they dip into and out of each others' lives. None of this is a significant issue in the story, but it lends a diaspora feel to the whole novel, as if everyone is searching for a home that doesn't quite exist, and Lucia is not the only one who can't find home in herself. Nothing in the book is fast moving or exciting, and it was very frustrating to read at times, precisely because of the confusion and the mistakes. But I recommend it to anyone interested in a great character-based novel, particularly dealing with mental illness. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

This was a diffrent take on explaining mental ilness. Lucia has schizophrenia and over the course of years her sister Miranda is left to help manage her medical care even as they drift apart. Told from the point of view of the sisters and other people in Lucias life.

This book was a very powerful story. Lucia is a creative and whimsical character - but she is also diagnosed with schizophrenia. Miranda, the cautious one of the pair, has always felt it was her responsibility to take care of her sister and ensure that she is getting the right medication and dosage. But this responsibility becomes an even harder burden to bear when faced with Lucia's refusal to comply. I thought that the author did an amazing job of portraying how mental illness can affect an individual and the relationships that person has with others. This story is told from multiple perspectives, from Miranda to Lucia's Israeli husband to the Latino immigrant to Lucia herself. Each offers their own story as they discover their love for Lucia - and discover her diagnosis and the struggles that come with schizophrenia. The author really took the time to show all of the facets of the disorder and the ways in which people can try to handle it. I found the story to be realistic and heartbreaking and beautiful and poignant. More importantly, I thought this novel did justice to the topic through a sensitive and masterful approach. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone interested in mental health and literary fiction. I'm giving this a 5/5 rating!

The story of a young woman’s struggle with mental health was compelling. It is told from other people’s points of view as well as her own. The story allows you to see how others perceive the illness as as a how the person copes with those perceptions.

Lucia Bok has been many people: a globe-trotting Chinese-American journalist, a health food store owner’s wife in New York City, an illegal immigrant’s girlfriend, and a pioneer mother in fairly primitive conditions in Ecuador. Her schizophrenia means that she throws herself wholeheartedly into every role but at some point, as her mind turns against her, finds herself unable to cope. We hear from Lucia herself as well as her big sister Miranda, her ex-husband Yonah, and her boyfriend Manny – in both first-person and third-person passages – over the course of perhaps 25 years to get an intimate picture of how mental illness strains families and how blame gets parceled out. Lucia’s first-person narration was most effective for me: “When Esperanza was born, a pair of serpents lived inside my head. Their job was to warn me of the dangers of motherhood, which boiled down to this: If you touch your baby, she will die. … I take only one kind of medication now. They adjust the dosage. Sometimes I still slosh around, dense and slushy like a watermelon; other times I’m flat, defizzed.” The book has a wide span geographically and chronologically, going from New York to Switzerland to Ecuador to Minnesota. At times I asked myself why; could the same story, condensed into one location and a shorter time span, have been more powerful? But in that it presents the sweep of a life and the cycle of taking pills, going off the pills, and things going wrong, this format works. I was reminded of The Immortalists and The Border of Paradise.

The love for her sister is the main theme in this story. Jie and Lucia are Chinese American sisters who are pretty different from each other. Lucia has schizophrenia and this keeps Jie feeling responsible for her younger sister even as other relationships pull them away from each other. An emotionally-powerful story about the havoc mental illness can wreak on a family.

This book never pulled me in or grabbed me. I found the tale initially very confusing and just didn't care enough to finish it.

This book started out slowly, however, parts of it were simply heartbreaking. Told from differing characters and points of view, it was confusing at first. Once you settle in you discover the impact that manner of writing propelled the story. Two sisters cope with the mental illness one struggles with. It has a ripple effect on others who become entangled with the family leaving wounds. The ending had me in tears. This is an amazing debut novel with a difficult subject manner but handled with respect, tact and compassion. I look forward to reading more by this author.

I was initially hesitant to read Everything Here is Beautiful as it seemed to have such a large scope - so many characters from varying cultures and countries are presented over a period decades. And while the novel did not grab me immediately, I eventually didn't want to put it down. Lee knows her characters so well, and they are so fully formed that the changes in settings and perspectives aren't jarring or contrived. It is a masterful and sensitive approach to telling a believable story about how mental illness effects a group of people, from the points of view of the patient, the caretakers, family, friends, and significant others. Lee skillfully moves the story forward so the reader never feels that any major elements of the characters' lives are missed even when years pass swiftly. The only mild detractor for me was the shift in narration back and forth between first and third person (sometimes even the same character is narrated in different perspectives) - I couldn't find a literary rationale for this choice and it disrupted the flow of the novel. However, the book is extremely compelling and beautifully written, one that I did not want to see end despite that end being a fitting one.

A lot of readers have said that the book started slowly. I agree and was unable to move forward, it just couldn’t get my attention.

Wow... Everything Here is Beautiful was indeed a beautiful and painful read. It started out a bit slow, but definitely picked up. As someone who majored in psychology, I found the portrayal of someone struggling with mental illness to be fascinating, although occasionally difficult to read. Lucia's life, and the lives of all those who loved her, were of course, so deeply affected by her illness.The characters all felt extremely realistic, sometimes too much so. By the end of the novel, I was so emotionally connected to Lucia, Miranda, and everyone else, that I could not help but tear up when things fell apart and ended the way they did. The cover and the psychological element of the book were what drew me in, but I'm glad I continued on with the story until the end. I did enjoy this book, even though I usually prefer more light-hearted fare.

There were times I couldn’t put this book down. It is very well written and I liked how the point of view changed throughout the book. However, the mental illness that Lucy suffered through was almost unbearable to read about. Great book but went back and forth from difficult to put down and difficult to pick up. I do look forward to reading other books by this author though.

This book was really slow starting out and sadley i couldnt finish it as i couldnt get interested it ive tried many times and couldnt get more than a chapter when i felt like i needed to put it down to tey again later

Summary:    In the end what is owed family?  How far is it, before loyalty becomes interference?  Two very different sisters, Miranda and Lucia, make their way through life after the death of their mother.  Responsible, over-protective Miranda knows she has to look after Lucia who has been diagnosed with a slew of maladies including schizophrenia.   Lucia is free spirited, impulsive, and inquisitive; constantly searching for that beautiful life that will give her perfection and finally silence the “serpents” in her head. Time and again the two butt heads as Lucia jumps head first into crazy situations, and Miranda tries to protect her from the aftermath.  Each woman tries to find love and their way in life, while trying to protect their relationship.  Love, anger, illness and loyalty.  This is a book of emotions and beautiful descriptions. My thoughts: I loved and hated this book in turn.  I wanted to shake each sister, to yell and scream.  The characters were so real to me, so beautifully flawed.  The description from place to place drew me around the world following Lucia.  I loved how the characters interacted to one another, and being allowed to truly see both sides.  I felt deeply for Lucia, even though I rarely agreed with her decision making.  More than anything, the nearly magical descriptions of people and places through Lucia’s eyes kept me turning pages far past my bed time.  The way she saw things and people was unique and beautiful- when she was well everything was beautiful- truly.  The highs and lows, roller coasters of the mentally ill, intrigued me.  My favorite character was probably Yonah with his enormous heart and constant love of Lucia, whether she deserved it or not.  I thought it was very well done, the way you had several different points of views, and the transition between each narrative.    For me, this was a five star book.   On the adult content scale, there was sexual content, and language.  It could, at times get a little explicit, so I have to give it a seven.   I received this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.

Real love is presented here.Let me say for such a positive title there were moments when it was the opposite. The theme of acceptance was fully realized. The ending hurt my feelings and I suppose there was a purpose for it. I must say the depiction of Lucia's illness was handled well. There were quiet moments but I think they were in sync with what Lucia needed. And no boring spots. Not a word was wasted nor the raw emotions. I thought a lot of my life reading the story. It held a great significance in my life. And I would recommend Everything Here is Beautiful.

Everything here is Beautiful is the debut novel by Mira Lee. This book is really good and I really look forward to what she will write in the future. This is a book about sisters and love and mental illness. This is a well written book and is told from each sister's perspective. It gives the reader a look into mental illness and how it affects not only the person but everyone else around them. It's the story of love and sacrifice but most importantly it's a story about family and the lengths we will go to help them.

"People are careless and they die." I received a copy of this ebook from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. This book is a heart wrenching look at motherhood and mental health. What Lee does so well is blend this fictional story to not feel like it's a story about mental illness but rather a story about family and choices and the consequences they face. You can't help but feel for Lucia but also the grief Miranda and others experience trying to do their best for Lucia and live their own lives. The variety of perspectives offered in this book gives us a full view of the characters experiences. We see Lucia descend into her symptoms while determined to keep them from defining her. It's an emotionally charged book that starts with a slow build and blossoms into a complex story of a family trying to stay together. This story touches on a lot of issues and portrays them all in a very real way that brings you along with everything the characters experience.

I enjoyed this book much more than I expected I would. Having dealt with depression all of my life, I feel that there are very few books that get it right. While Lucia suffers from manic depression, with a touch of schizophrenia, I still felt a connection with her.

When Miranda was a young girl, her pregnant and widowed mother made a bold decision by leaving China and heading to America for better opportunities. Miranda always felt protective over her younger impulsive sister, Lucia, especially after their mother died. Mental illness begins to take hold over Lucia and Miranda fights to get her sister the help she desperately needs before she is lost forever. This is a story of the sad reality of how mental illness not only affects the person suffering from it but loved ones as well. I thought this book did a fine job in showing how frustrating and devastating mental illness can be for families. Miranda and Lucia's relationship felt realistic as it went through many ups and downs. While the main theme of the book was mental illness there were a few other things presented in the book including illegal immigration and cultural differences that really enhanced the story. I also loved how the story switched back and forth between the main characters and their perspectives. Thank you First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

Everything Here is Beautiful is a quiet and thoughtful book about mental illness and the toll it takes on the relationship between two Chinese-American sisters. Miranda is the older, responsible one, who's spent her life looking after her younger sister, Lucia, impetuous and free-spirited. Throughout her adult life, Lucia grapples with an undefined mental illness (doctors are unable to determine if it's schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or something in between), and Miranda struggles with the guilt of never being able to help her sister quite enough. What's particularly striking about this book is how Mira T. Lee balances an array of perspectives, which serves to challenge the reader's perception on a single issue. We flit back and forth between Miranda, Lucia, Manuel (Lucia's young Ecuadorian lover), and Yonah (Lucia's husband), and we stay in each of their heads long enough that they genuinely feel like real people, each with their own strengths and biases and shortcomings. We hear from Lucia both when she's lucid and when she's wrestling with what she refers to as the 'serpents' in her mind, which provides us with a hard-hitting and candid exploration of how 'real' Lucia's paranoia and delusions feel to her. Lee also highlights the sad truth that there are often no easy answers when it comes to addressing severe mental illness - at different times in her life Lucia tries medication and hospitalization, and while I'm happy to say that this is not a narrative that maligns medication in any way (it's ultimately a rather pro-meds message), the reality of medicating doesn't provide Lucia with a simple solution, which is often the case. It's an important narrative that I think will resonate with anyone who's grappled with mental illness at some point, and I'm hoping that books like this and Chemistry will succeed in starting some conversations about the stigma surrounding mental health in our society. But back to the narrative - I do have a few complaints. (1) It was too long by about a hundred pages. The plot stalled at about a third of the way through, and though the pace eventually rectified itself, there was still a lot of filler. I was initially sure I was going to breeze through this book, but for a while there in the middle picking it up was kind of a drag. (2) I'm not a fan of first and third person being used together in novels. I've seen it done well (e.g., Burial Rites by Hannah Kent) but for the most part it doesn't work for me. Here it felt arbitrary and stylistic. The effect Lee created with the multiple POVs could have been easily achieved with exclusively either first or third person. (3) The timeline was occasionally unclear - there would be big time jumps between two chapters with hardly any indication. But all that said, I mostly really loved this. Everything Here is Beautiful is a powerful and moving novel. Mira T. Lee comes out of the gate strong with this debut, taking on issues of mental health, immigration, familial duty, motherhood, and national and cultural identity. I'd highly recommend this to fans of Celeste Ng, Min Jin Lee, and/or Weike Wang. Thank you to First to Read and Mira T. Lee for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Everything Here is Beautiful will be published on January 16, 2018.

I really wanted to like this book. However, it was SO slow paced and the story really didn't keep my interest. There was little plot movement and I didn't feel connected to any of the characters. I kept on reading in hopes that I would like it more, but unfortunately, it never really won me over.

I generally dislike the idea of “women’s fiction” as a literary genre. I do not understand why literature written by or about “everyday men” is fiction, but anything by or about “everyday women” needs to be sub-categoried. I realize I made up that part of speech for that word…I stand by it. But really, this, like any other story about men or women, is a story about life. And like any good literature, it fictionalizes many of the challenges and relationships that we all recognize and can relate to, while providing insight for those who haven’t lived these types of experiences. Miranda and Lucia are sisters. They moved from China to the United States, with their mother, as young children (or as a fetus, in Lucia’s case). As time goes by, the sisters get married (or don’t), have children (or don’t), separate from their partners (or don’t) and move around the world. Although they have been close since their youth, very close, something happens that changes everything. Lucia suffers a (non-specific diagnosis) mental break and must be hospitalized. Throughout the years that follow, this experience colors the relationships, jobs and decisions Lucia makes and, with the changes in guilt and responsibility that Miranda feels, irreparably changes the connection between the sisters. This story was told in alternating viewpoints and we get to see the events through the eyes of Lucia herself, Miranda, and Lucia’s two serious partners, Yonah and Manny. The voice changes slightly as the narrators change, but the one that really felt the most alive was Yonah’s. His accent and personality came through so strongly, while the others, at least stylistically, blended together for me. The writing itself was short, almost staccato. Thoughts and moments jumped quickly paragraph to paragraph, without long exposition or flowery extra language. It’s a style I don’t mind, in general, though at times I felt that perhaps it was a little too disjointed here. And as the story went, the descriptive language got a little longer and more present, so the style lost a bit of consistency there. But the overall pacing and feel of the story was nicely handled and very emotionally present. The way mental illness was considered here, which was the main plot point that moved the story forwards and which all the characters revolved around, was skillfully handled. Lucia’s narrative sections gave some superb insight into the inner perspective of a person dealing with a mental health disorder. And Miranda, Yonah and Manny’s sections brilliantly exemplified the struggles faced by family and friends of those suffering from mental illness and the treatment of it. The general impotence felt by everyone, the strain and guilt and confusion and frustration spread all around, is heartbreaking to read. And will provide anyone who has experienced anything similar with justification and relief that they are not the only ones who feel helpless and discouraged. The exploration of the feelings of loss, loss of sense of self and self-control and decision-making, to the illness both for Lucia and her family/friends is also very important. More than once Lucia mentions a lack of awareness of what is real anymore, while Miranda/Yonah/Manny speak about how they start to forget what parts of her are Lucia and what parts are her mental illness. The pressure that puts on both the person and the ones who love them is beyond difficult. In general, I felt that this was just a really respectable chronicle of the struggles of mental illness. As an added bonus, the story is wonderfully multi-cultural. With a very diverse cast, both regarding characters and locations, from China to Israel to the US to Ecuador to Switzerland, the way everything came together to create unique and specific cultures was fascinating. And of course, as this is the main billing for this story, the sister-sister bond between Miranda and Lucia, with both its ups and downs, will be recognizable to anyone with siblings. Some small extra notes. I loved the detail that Lucia assigns an animal/vegetable essence to everyone she meets (i.e. – elk, avocado, porcupine). It’s such a fun and evocative representation of a personality and I loved that touch. On the other hand, I was less impressed with the ending. I felt like the writing for the ending dropped off from the rest of the story and I wasn’t super satisfied with that. However, I did like where/how the story ended as far as the plot and relationships go, which is the important thing. Keep an eye out for this one, official publication date on January 16, 2018! This ARC was provided to me courtesy of First to Read and Pamela Dorman Books in exchange for an honest review. Quotes I enjoyed (about relationships, culture, and, particularly, about the realities of mental illness): “But the truth is, I’m still not sure how to tell what’s real – because when you’re inside it, it’s your reality, and if your own perception of the world isn’t valid, then what is?” “These days were forever, life pouring into me all think and spicy and I was bottomless.” “But what would it be, I wonder, to conduct one’s life as a Chinese life instead of just a life? I speak Chinese, I cook Chinese food, practice tai-chi on occasion and drink oolong tea, but to flaunt one’s authenticity seem terribly gauche. I’m human first, aren’t I? Aren’t we all?” “Saudade. A vague longing for something that cannot exist again, or perhaps never did.” “Divinely blessed, my thoughts popped like firecrackers, my heart swelled with happiness, my body exuded a magnetic energy.” “And then, her worst fear: that line between her sister and the illness was becoming irrevocably blurred.” “I think love is just a romantic way of explaining selflessness.” “But it was impossible to know the truth of another’s interior life. Wasn’t it?” “In grief, the future seems impossible.”

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T Lee follows two sisters,Lucia and Miranda, after Lucia is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Miranda is trying to take care of her sister from a continent away, while Lucia is simply trying to live the best life she can with her diagnosis and medications (and their side effects). I feel for both sisters in this story. Miranda wants to help her sister, but doesn’t know how. She feels that it is her duty to make her better, even though she knows there is no cure. Lucia is trying to balance her diagnosis with motherhood and a job. There is a lot of representation. All of the main characters are immigrants: Miranda and Lucia from China, Manuel from Ecuador, and Yonah from Israel. The book features mental illness (of course), and one of the featured characters is disabled. Multiple points ov view was the best way to tell this story. As Lucia moves from place to place, the narrator changes to best convey the story. Each character has a distinct voice, making it easy to keep track of who is speaking. I especially like that each narrator had several chapters in a row. It gave us more time to get to know each character and provided a more solid arc. My only wish is that we had more time from Lucia’s perspective. I liked how this book examined how relationships can and do change with mental illness. Miranda has always been Lucia’s caretaker because of their age difference, but it continues into adulthood after Lucia’s diagnosis. Manuel questions whether their relationship is love or a partnership as he also must monitor Lucia’s behavior for symptoms. They both see her diagnosis first and Lucia second Yonah is the only one to treat her the same way after she is diagnosed, but also doesn’t encourage her to take her meds. I don’t think any of the get it right, but they are all trying, which is the important part. This is Ms.Lee’s debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what else she comes out with next.

Everything Here is Beautiful is lovely and heartbreaking. It's the story of two sisters, one of which has a mental illness. It's about motherhood and love and family, belonging and not belonging. It's hard to write about mental illness in a way that feels real, but Mira Lee succeeds. Lee portrays the grief and devotion of Miranda, Manny, and Yonah wonderfully. My heart broke for Yonah.

Everything here is Beautiful is the debut novel by Mira Lee. This book is so good that I really look forward to what she will write in the future. This is a book about sisters and love and mental illness. Two sisters - Miranda, the older responsible sister and Lucia - the younger unpredictable sister move to America with their mother. When their mother dies, it is up to Miranda to help her sister navigate life. When Lucia has a mental breakdown, Miranda is the one who gets her into a hospital and works with her to get better. When Lucia decides to marry an older man and then quits taking her meds, it is Miranda who steps in to help. And then after Lucia decides to move to Ecuador with her younger lover and her new baby, Miranda is once again called in to help. But Lucia no longer wants her help and wants to live her life on her own. How much of Miranda's life needs to be given up to help her sister or has she sacrificed enough and now deserves her own happiness? This is a well written book told from each sister's perspective. It gives the reader a look at mental illness and how it affects not only the person but everyone else around them. It's the story of love and sacrifice but most important it's a story about family and how to protect those that we love the most. Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I found it unusually accurate with regards to mental illness. The dilemmas that family members face when trying to lead normal lives despite being repeatedly drawn into the depths of despair and frustration by the individual obliviously unaware of the havoc they are inflicting on others is all too real. In some respects the illness extends tentacles into the lives of those closest to the individual with a mental illness and often prevents full expression of their own lives causing a muting of their realities. I felt this was overwhelming portrayed in the book. As a result, I feel that there was much more to be known about the remaining characters that is left unexplored. The symbolic meaning of a spider and web is duly noted. I felt that it was mostly written with the perspective of the mentally ill individual attempting to live a full life despite the interruptions of their disease. The interjections by other individuals during exacerbations of the disease are invaluable to the story. I felt it was a fairly realistic view of the ambiguity of mental illness overall, but not an uplifting story, because these outcomes are rarely so with this subject.

I enjoyed the story and am happy that I got an advance copy. The book focuses on two sisters over the span of their life. They come to America as children with their Chinese mother and even though they are different, they are intertwined throughout the story. The book switches perspectives from various characters, including both sisters and spouses. I was a little confused about the flow of perspectives and how it was chosen, but it was good to get a variety of points of view. It’s hard to write from a range of character views and maintain a consistent flow of the story. I think the way the writing goes into different perspective lets the story get a little lost. The consistent theme throughout the book is the younger sister’s mental health struggle. The story is centered on this and includes brief flashbacks to the sisters childhood and coming to America with their mother. The story spans over decades, revealing characteristics about the sisters as it goes. Overall, it was an enjoyable read, well written, but I would’ve liked the story to flow better and more character development from Miranda, the older sister.

 


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