Friday, March 27, 2009

Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center

Everyone Is Beautiful is the kind of book you read in one sitting, the kind of book that makes you laugh out loud, the kind of book that makes you feel like you're not alone. Katherine Center has put into words things I've been feeling for the nearly nine years I've been a mother.

Lanie Coates is a young mother of three boys (ages 4, 2, and 10 months). She's given up her art to stay at home with the kids, and she's just relocated the family from Houston (where she's lived all her life) to the Boston area so her husband, Peter, can work on his music career. She doesn't know anyone, she barely has time to take a shower with two kids running around and a baby on her hip, and she soon learns that her parents are selling their long-time home and moving to Dubai. She runs into a girl she knew (but never really talked to) in high school, Amanda, and the two hit it off, but the new friendship doesn't stop Lanie from worrying about the extra weight she packed on during her pregnancies, the lack of intimacy with her husband, and her need for something to do outside mothering.

Lanie decides to change her life. She joins the gym, takes up photography, even befriends the "Mean Witch" who lives in the apartment below theirs. But just as her life is starting to turn around, the bottom falls out from under her and she realizes she might lose everything. And that's all I'm going to say about the plot.

Center's writing is wonderful, perfectly capturing the fluctuating emotions of motherhood and marriage, coating the more disgusting parts of parenting with a bit of humor, and showing that we can find beauty anywhere if only we stop to look. The characters are well-rounded, and Center takes great care in showing a change in all of them by the time the book ends. I loved them all, from the high-maintenance Amanda and the grief-stricken Nora to the creepy photography teacher Nelson. These characters are unique, but none of them seemed over the top.

I think any woman would enjoy this book, kids and husbands or not, but as I closed the book I realized I loved it so much because I understood Lanie. In many aspects of her life and her personality, I saw myself. I've been asked when my baby's due one week after she was born, I've been puked and pooped on, I've napped on the couch while my daughter colored all over the walls. I've gone a whole day without talking to an adult, I've struggled to find time for a shower, I've been called chubby by my child, and I've lamented the romance my husband and I shared in the early days of our relationship. I also know what it's like to feel like I've lost myself amid the diapers and the toys and the burned dinners, and I've found creative outlets (reading, writing, blogging) that keep me sane. Granted, I don't change diapers anymore, but I remember what it was like to be a stay-at-home mom with an infant, and now I juggle the parenting stuff, the marriage stuff, and the hobby stuff with a full-time job.

Everyone Is Beautiful pulls you from happiness to despair to hope and contentment. I didn't realize how much I needed to read this book until I finished it. As I write these words, I'm looking at things differently than I did yesterday. And that a book can make me see myself and other women in a new light, to me, is beautiful.

Everyone Is Beautiful also was reviewed by:

Peeking Between the Pages
The Friendly Book Nook
You've GOTTA read this!
S. Krishna's Books
Wendi's Book Nook
Maw Books Blog
Booking Mama

If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Everyone Is Beautiful from the publisher for review purposes.


Julie P. said...

I have this on my TBR pile and can't wait to read it. I have heard nothing but amazing things about this book!

bermudaonion said...

Being a woman in today's world isn't easy. I'm looking forward to this book, too.

Serena said...

I don't have this in my TBR pile, but it sounds like another great read! I keep seeing glowing reviews for this one.

thewriterslife said...

Wow, thank you, Anna!

Sadako said...

I haven't heard about this, but I really want to read it now. Great review!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I think I need a copy of this.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a character I can relate to.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've read a few reviews of this book, and was so convinced, I ordered it on audio! I think most of us moms would connect with more than a few of the situations in this book!

Unknown said...

I love your blog and want to give you an award. I'm not sure how to send it directly but you can pick it up at my blog:

Unknown said...

I haven't read this yet, but I think I could definitely relate to it. It took a long time after I became a mom for me to start doing things just for myself again.

Molly said...

What a wonderful review!

I lived in Houston the first 11 years of my life and then moved to Connecticut (a hop - skip and a jump from Boston). OH MY -- what a cultural shock that was at the age of 12 --- I simply cannot imagine what it must be like to make the move as a mother to three young children.

You have convinced that I need to read this book - as I am sure that I will connect with the novel on many different levels.

Corinne said...

I've been hearing about this one, it sounds really good. I love that we've been moms for the same amount of time :)

Darlene said...

Great review Anna. This was a really great book. I'm looking forward to reading her first one now.

Luanne said...

Well the cover caught my eye, but your review clinched it - this sounds like a fantastic read - one I'm sure all moms can related to!

ANovelMenagerie said...

You won an award at A Novel Menagerie in my Sunday Salon post!

Literary Feline said...

That's quite an endorsement, Anna! You've written a great review, and I can definitely see what drew you to this book. It sounds like a good one.

Anonymous said...

I totally relate to your review. I just added this to my TBR and I think I'm moving it to the top!

Stephanie said...

Oh, I've got to get my hands on this book! Thanks for the insightful review!

Alyce said...

What a great review! I can relate to all of those things too. It took me about four years of being a stay-at-home mom before I realized that I would go crazy if I didn't get some non-mommy related hobbies that got me out of the house. :) This book sounds awesome.

Jeanne said...

I liked this one too (reviewed it a while back), especially the part where one woman asks another how pregnant she is when she's already given birth...ow.

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this one as well. Great review!

Ladytink_534 said...

I'm not a mother but I know a few whose lives are starting to revolve around their kids so they'd probably love this. Thanks!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Great review! I LOVED this book. I'm picking it for our next book club the next time I host. As a mom, I just loved everything about it!

Jenners said...

This sounds great! Thanks for a lovely and thorough review. I am putting it on my wish list right now! Thank you!

Anna said...

Julie: I can't wait to hear what you think of it. I just know you're going to love it.

Bermudaonion: Ain't that the truth!

Serena: You can borrow my copy. I think you'll enjoy it.

Dorothy: You've very welcome!

Sadako: Thanks! I do hope you get to read it.

Susan: Yes! You need to get this book. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

Carol: I think most moms can relate to her. That's what makes the book so good.

Sandy: I hope you like it. I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

bridget3420: Thank you so much! That really means a lot to me.

Janel: I know what you mean. I think you'd enjoy this book.

Molly: I can't imagine having 3 little kids running around either. I have a hard enough time taking care of 1!

Corinne: Isn't that neat? We seem to have a lot in common.

Dar: I'll have to check out your review soon. I'm really behind in review reading. :(

Luanne: Glad you enjoyed the review. I hope you enjoy the book, too. ;)

ANovelMenagerie: Thank you so much! You're such a doll!

Literary Feline: Thanks! I really enjoyed writing the review. I haven't felt so connected to a book in a long time.

Nicole: I hope you enjoy it. I can't wait to hear what you think.

Stephanie: You're welcome. Hope you enjoy it.

Alyce: I was only a stay-at-home mom for a little more than a year, and I couldn't wait to go to work and just be out of the house by myself for a while. Then I went to work and wished I could stay home. LOL

Jeanne: I had that happen to me. Boy, does it hurt.

S. Krishna: Another review of yours I'll be reading soon. I'll catch up some day, I promise.

Ladytink: I think women who don't have kids could still enjoy this one.

Natasha: Your review was the first one I saw, and then I heard about the tour and knew I had to participate.

Jenners: You're welcome. I hope you enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Anna! I'm so sorry I didn't post a comment about this lovely review back in March when you posted! All I can say is, I was traveling the country on a book tour and doing the blog tour at the same time and things were BANANAS. I thought April would be calmer, but here it is May and I'm just barely taking a breath.
This is a gorgeous review. It is a pleasure to read. Thank you so, so much for all the great things you had to say. I'm so glad the story spoke to you and really meant something. Many, many thanks--and lots of good wishes!
Katherine Center

Anna said...

Katherine: Thank you so much for stopping by. Glad you enjoyed my review.