Review: Everything Here Is Beautiful

Everything Here Is Beautiful Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started reading this book in late December and found it hard because it begins with two sisters, Miranda and Lucia, losing their mother. (My own mom died in late 2016 and there is always unresolved stuff, and those stories of family that you turn over in your memory and want more of...) I set the book aside for a time and ultimately listened to the audiobook in small doses.

Having been raised in the United States after their mother emigrated following the death of their father, Miranda and Lucia are, as their mother often chides them, quite American in their perspectives about life and happiness. Very close as children, their different dispositions and interests find them growing apart in myriad ways as they become adults. Miranda, ever straining to be emotionally contained and responsible, struggles to help her effervescent, changeable and unstable younger sister Lucia in the decade following their mother's death. Lucia's descent into an illness that often steals the sister that Miranda loves is but one of the stories in a powerful novel.

Alternating between the sisters' voices and that of Lucia's significant others, Yonah and Manny, along with flashbacks of stories their mother told them, Everything Here is Beautiful paints a poignant picture of sisterhood, love, life, marriage, parenthood, heartbreak, and mental illness. Giving us cultural overtones as disparate as Chinese, Israeli, Ecuadorian, and Swiss, Lee ultimately looks at the universality of love and loss, of hope and despair, of the frustrations of the mentally ill and those who love them. Lucia's descent into her psychotic breaks is rendered with searing insights into the fears and resentments of the mentally ill. Miranda's struggles, both with the inadequacy of the mental health system in the US and the complete lack of a system in Ecuador are painful to read, as well.

A powerful and quite memorable novel.

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