Tag Archives: everyone is beautiful



Everyone Is Beautiful, by Katherine Center, is an enjoyable, light book about Lanie, a thirtysomething mother of three who moves with her husband from Houston to Cambridge, MA for him to attend graduate school. As the book opens, she has just arrived in Massachusetts, and meets another mom on the playground who asks her when she is due. Problem is, she’s not pregnant. This question sets into motion a series of self-improvement steps Lanie takes to try to reclaim her pre-kid life, and Everyone is Beautiful is about the repurcussions of those actions.


Everyone Is Beautifulis a compelling portrait of modern day parenthood and marriage, at least from the mom’s perspective. It’s funny and briskly paced and easy to read. I found it a bit simplistic at times – I don’t think relationships are as clear cut or tidy as some of those portrayed in the book – but I still enjoyed reading it. I could definitely relate to many of Lanie’s frustrations and observations about parenthood.

Here is one passage I really liked. Lanie is watching some old videos of her childhood and feeling very wistful:

It had not occurred to me to mourn losing those things until now. I had done each of those things, somewhere along the way, for a last time – without realizing it was the last time. And even after I knew that I was no longer a child, somehow I’d assumed those things could have come back to me. Or that I could have gone back to them. But watching the movies on this day, I became aware of infinite losses. Before I knew it, I had sunk to my knees.

I loved that.

One little quibble with the writing – there is too much foreshadowing. I would have preferred to have the plot unfold naturally, without little clues throughout signalling what was to come. They were distracting and made me suspect that Center didn’t trust that her readers would stick around long enough to see what happened without being enticed by little spoilers. Her plot was more than compelling enough to keep her readers interested.

Everyone is Beautiful is a fun read that ends on a very positive, affirming note. I’m glad I read it.

The Books That Came In The Mail Today

I got three review books in the mail today. They make an interesting group – very different from each other.

Tunneling First, from Ecco/HarperCollins: Tunneling to the Center of the Earth, a collection of stories from Kevin Wilson.  From Amazon: "Kevin Wilson's characters inhabit a world that moves seamlessly between the real and the imagined, the mundane and the fantastic. 'Grand Stand-In' is narrated by an employee of a Nuclear Family Supplemental Provider—a company that supplies 'stand-ins' for families with deceased, ill, or just plain mean grandparents. And in 'Blowing Up On the Spot,' a young woman works sorting tiles at a Scrabble factory after her parents have spontaneously combusted. Southern gothic at its best, laced with humor and pathos, these wonderfully inventive stories explore the relationship between loss and death and the many ways we try to cope with both."

I don't usually read short stories but I will give these a try sometime.

Next, from HarperCollins: The Lie, by Chad Kultgen. I hadn't heard of Kultgen before, but he wrote a book called The Average American Male, which apparently got a lot of attention. Here's what Amazon says:

Lie With the publication of The Average American Male — and the release of the shocking viral videos that made it a water-cooler sensation — Chad Kultgen became one of the most talked-about authors of recent years. Now, with The Lie, Kultgen returns with an even more salacious — yet also more searching — novel that reaches deeper into the craven inner workings of some of most depraved minds in America: college students.

His subjects are Brett, the rich hedonist whose appetite for sex is matched only by his contempt for women; his best friend, Kyle, the brooding science geek whose good intentions lead him to one disastrous decision; and Heather, the social-climbing sorority girl who has the power to destroy them both. As this devil's triangle plows through four years of college, Kultgen offers a astonishing take on the wild and amoral universe of college today: a frathouse world where sex is social currency, status means everything — and winner takes all.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

Ok, where have I been? I hadn't heard of The Average American Male or its accompany viral videos, but I am intrigued.  (If you are too, try YouTube – I just watched one of them). I flipped through The Lie and it appears to be nonstop sex.

Finally, I was lucky enough to win a copy of Everyone Is Beautiful, by Katherine Center, from the Does Mommy Love It blog.  I wrote about Center's book The Bright Side of Disaster earlier this month, and I am excited to read Everyone is Beautiful. Center left a nice comment on the blog and I am looking forward to trying out her books. From Amazon:

Center When Lanie Coates moves from Houston to Cambridge, Mass., with her musician husband, Peter, she loses her support system and quickly becomes overwhelmed by her three small boys and a self-image that's sagging both literally and figuratively. In this agreeable mom-lit entry, Lanie, a former painter, finds beauty in everyone but herself, and especially adores Peter, even though the two of them seem to be drifting apart. The early chapters nearly sink beneath the weight of routine housekeeping details and scenes describing the children's bodily functions and fascination with their body parts, matters most parents have experienced, but which don't necessarily make for great fiction. However, as Lanie begins to find herself through a newfound passion for photography, the story gains traction, and the tension grows as her photography teacher turns out to be a smitten kitten. Like real-life marriage with children, this book offers enough sparkling moments to compensate for the tedium.

I must enroll in a speed-reading course.