Not everything is beautiful, and with my recent track record for not enjoying new books, this was a very welcome change and surprise and all that. Simmone Howell’s Everything Beautiful is everything that a book should be. It’s good. Very good. I raced through it.
It’s Australian, and we don’t read enough English language books from that part of the world. Once I got used to the thought that summer is in the winter (I know, but I keep forgetting), the timings of the tale made sense. It’s a story with quite biblical undertones, finishing ‘On the seventh day’.
Riley is that unusual heroine, a fat girl who we don’t need to feel sorry for. She makes friends with wheelchair-bound Dylan, who is not an object of pity, either. It’s the stepmother syndrome again, getting sent to a religious camp, to be out of the way, and to improve. Hah.
Obviously, Riley hates it. She hates very well, but she’s also incredibly resourceful, and a good friend to those who need friendship.
The ‘Aussie-ness’ of the book is not so much scenery or language, as a sense of freedom. British books are actually very sexually censored and careful a lot of the time. This is more Melvin Burgess meets Jacqueline Wilson, if that makes sense. It gets explicit, and we have it all; sex, drugs, drink, smoking. It’s great.
This is Simmone’s second teen novel. I want more.