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Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
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Everything Here is Beautiful

by Mira T. Lee

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2732564,448 (3.95)19
"A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters."--Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. A dazzling novel of two sisters and their emotional journey through love, loyalty, and heartbreak. Two sisters--Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister's protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. But Lucia impetuously plows ahead, marrying a bighearted, older man only to leave him, suddenly, to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. She moves her new family from the States to Ecuador and back again, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally ill. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until, inevitably, she crashes to earth. Miranda leaves her own self-contained life in Switzerland to rescue her sister again--but only Lucia can decide whether she wants to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans--but what does it take to break them? Told in alternating points of view, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, the story of a young woman's quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her illness. But it's also an unforgettable, gut-wrenching story of the sacrifices we make to truly love someone--and when loyalty to one's self must prevail over all"--… (more)
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If you want to cleanse your... brain? palate? brain-palate? of the hellstorm that was 2017, this book is an excellent way to kick off the new year.

Everything Here Is Beautiful is the story of two sisters, Miranda and Lucia. Since childhood, Miranda has been the careful and responsible big sister, Jie, while Lucia has been the cheerful and impulsive little sister, Mei. But Lucia occasionally has episodes where she has violent mood swings, hears voices, and becomes increasingly paranoid. Miranda, frightened at what could happen to her baby sister - and, perhaps, what her baby sister could do to others - stresses the importance of medication. Lucia, however, stubbornly refuses to let her mental illness affect her life. But as she makes a series of sudden decisions - a marriage to an older man, a baby with an illegal immigrant, a family move to Ecuador - the question of what is due to her personality and what is due to her illness arises. Her bond with her sister also begins to fray as Miranda wearies of coming to the rescue and she becomes resentful of Jie's interference. You will race to the end to discover what happens.

A deeply compassionate story told engagingly from multiple perspectives, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, simply, beautiful. If you enjoyed [b:Little Fires Everywhere|34273236|Little Fires Everywhere|Celeste Ng|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1490351351s/34273236.jpg|52959357] or [b:Stay with Me|32969150|Stay with Me|Ayobami Adebayo|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1481563711s/32969150.jpg|52027766], I highly recommend you pick up this book.

(I forgot to thank Penguin Random House/First Reads for allowing me access to a digital galley! I really hope this book does well!) ( )
  doryfish | Jul 31, 2019 |
Lucia has a mental illness. Her story was intriguing. The author helped the reader understand her personality and her relationships with her family and friends. The story from her sister's perspective fell flat. Honesty, the other characters weren't as well developed. The only other character I cared about was Yonah. The story is centered around Lucia, so overall, very enjoyable. ( )
  Beth.Clarke | Jun 28, 2019 |
Story of two sisters life when one of them is diagnosed with bi-polar/ schizophrenic disorder. it was interesting to read about the mind of a person with schizophrenia. I learned how difficult this disease is to control because the medication has so many side effects, the afflicted do not wish to take these medications for very long. Families struggle with this when a loved one has mental health issues. ( )
  janismack | May 23, 2019 |
Heartbreaking story of two Chinese immigrant sisters, one of whom struggles with mental illness makes a compelling story. ( )
  brangwinn | Mar 30, 2019 |
This book will stick in my mind forever (a place where surprisingly little sticks). I'm amazed that this is a first novel - not a single wrong note for me. I love the way the author slowly builds an understanding of the characters by seeing them through various eyes as well as their own - and it happens gradually, just the way you get to know people in real life. It must be so hard to write idiosyncratic characters without making them annoying stereotypes, but that is definitely not the case here. Ditto for writing about mental illness without sinking into melodrama. There is a lot to think about in this book, and I think two key deep dives are to examine the title, and to think about one of Lucia's favorite portuguese words, saudade, which Wikipedia defines as "a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves. Moreover, it often carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return".

I can't really point to examples of great writing because all of it is so seamlessly well done. But having personal experience with a loved one with mental illness, I was especially struck by Miranda's thoughts about her sister Lucia - that mental health advocates stress that a person with mental health struggles are more than their illness and shouldn't be defined by it, but there comes a point at which you wonder whether the illness hasn't swallowed them whole, and the person you loved is no longer there. "And then, her worst fear: that the line between her sister and the illness was becoming irrevocably blurred."

Last but not least, I didn't expect this to be such a compulsive, unputdownable read. I'll be on the lookout for Lee's next book. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
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For the families
Empathy: because the commonality among human beings is emotion, and the only way we can bridge our vast discrepancies in experience is through what we feel. Let us be humbled in the knowledge that one may never fully understand the interior lives of others--but let us continue to care.
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A summer day in New Jersey.
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There's a word for this in Portuguese: saudade. It's not exactly nostalgia, there's more of a longing in it, for a feeling or way of life that may be impossible to recapture--that may or may not have even existed in the first place. "An indolent dreaming wistfulness" is how I've seen one writer describe it. Now that's a great word.
In the density of the city, she feels alone. In the open space of the campo, she feels constricted, the eyes of the family ever upon her.
There is a word for this, a beautiful word that unfurls from the tongue: velleity. The weakest form of volition. A mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.
But now, like this, I think love is just romantic way of explaining selflessness.
This was a brief encounter, tender, yet strained. They would part knowing what they'd always known: that they had each loved Lucia. And this was enough, for now, neither was ready for more. In grief, the future seems impossible.
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