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.