Every Exquisite Thing
Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers
Available May 31, 2016
It starts with a book. A beloved teacher gives Nanette his copy of an out-of-print novel called The Bubblegum Reaper, about a Holden Caulfield-type boy who falls in love with a girl who shares her secrets with a turtle. As Nanette reads and rereads the novel, she becomes impassioned. She reaches out to the author and discovers another boy who loves the book, and in him, a potential soulmate. But when his vigilante attitude takes him too far, Nanette must learn find the courage to be herself despite the expectations of others on her own.
Part The Fault in Our Stars and part The Bell Jar, Nanette’s journey follows two misfits struggling to find a way out of the parts of life they find so smothering, a story sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been bullied or felt out of place. As Nanette slips closer to the edge of her own sanity, it’s easy to feel her fragility and desperation. Though not quite as dark as his earlier novel Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, this tale lacks none of the emotional punch and wry quirkiness that readers have come to expect from Quick.
While I’m kind of a sucker for this kind of story, I find I’m often left kind of wishing there was more of a triumph at the end of the tale. I did feel that way here, but in a way, it’s kind of the point that I think the author was trying to make. In life, we don’t always get those big moments where things snap neatly into place. Every Exquisite Thing isn’t without its victories. But it’s definitely one of those stories whose goal is to force you to think more deeply about situations in your life rather than to scratch the happily-ever-after itch.
Fans of Belzhar should give this one a try.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used with moderate frequency. Much of the profanity was in the latter half of the book. There’s also some crude language about sex and male genitals. In one instance, Nanette and her friends are talking about boys and her friends ask about the size of Nan’s boy’s parts. She responds with an exaggeration that’s meant to point out the stupidity of the conversation, but the joke goes over the girls’ heads.
Kissing. Nan invites a boy to touch her boob. (Afterward, her mom comments on the “nice show”.) At one point, Nan decides to have sex with a boy. It’s briefly described. At one point, Nan visits an adult friend only to discover that he and a lady appear to be in the middle of a romance. She doesn’t see anything wholly inappropriate. (I think one character wears a robe when answering the door.)
Nanette and Alex talk at length about God. At one point they list reasons they don’t believe in God (disasters, pain, negative things like that) and reasons they do believe. Nanette comments that it’s clear they both wish the list of reasons to believe would outnumber the reasons not to.
Alex tells Nanette (via his poetry) about being bullied at school. Later, he fights bullies picking on another kid and punches a man in the face.
Nanette goes to parties where her friends get drunk.