Book Review: Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center

everyoneisbeautifulTitle: Everyone is Beautiful
Author: Katherine Center
Genre: Modern fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
First line: The day I decided to change my life, I was wearing sweatpants and an old oxford of Peter’s with a coffee stain down the front.

I have seen Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center reviewed on many blogs, and I’ve yet to see a bad review. In fact, most of the bloggers said they absolutely loved it. I am always a little hesitant to read a book that is getting so many positive reviews, because it has been put on a little book pedestal and I’ll be horribly disappointed if I don’t think it’s as wonderful as everyone else did. But then I was lucky enough to win an ARC from S. Krishna’s Books, and then 5 Minutes for Books announced a joint online bookclub discussion on June 2nd, so I knew I had to read it soon.

I am so very happy to say that Everyone is Beautiful is still on its little book pedestal. I devoured this book. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I’m a little tongue-tied (or shoud I say finger-tied since I’m typing?) when it comes to writing a review. Reading this book reminded me of a particularly delightful reading experience last summer, Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. Both authors have a particularly deft way with words, especially when it comes to writing characters.

You probably need a bit of background to understand why this book hit home so hard for me. In November of 2001, on week before Thanksgiving, I gave birth to our fourth child, Josiah. Our oldest, Natalie, was one month shy of 5 years old. So I had a 4 year old daughter, a 3 year old son, a 2 year old son, and a newborn son. The period of time between September 1999, when I had our third child 15 months after our second (and had three in diapers) until our youngest was potty-trained is pretty much a blur of sleepless nights, colds and ear infections and stomach flus, diaper changes and potty-training, doctor’s visits and sippy cups and matchbox cars and fingerprint-smudged walls and diaper bags and…and….and. All of you mothers know exactly what I’m talking about.

Katherine Center has perfectly captured those days of early motherhood. I can remember having the exact thoughts and feelings that Lanie experiences. She is a young mother of three boys, ages 4 and under. She has just moved from Houston, Texas to Cambridge, Massachusetts so that her husband can work toward an advance degree in musical composition. She has left behind in Houston everything that is familiar and safe, including her parents. Her husband, Peter, is consumed with his studies and his music students, and Lanie feels more alone than she ever has in her life. Only she’s not alone; she’s never alone. She’s constantly swarming with three little boys whose needs are constant and demands are immediate.

Lanie decides that it is time to make a change and to try to find the woman that she used to be – if she even exists anymore. The only question is, can she carve out something for herself without hurting her children or her marriage?

There is so much to this book – it is hilariously funny, but not fluffy. It has wonderful female characters that are experiencing loss and grief and changes, and yet are facing them with strength and dignity. I loved Amanda and Nora and Lanie, and I was rooting for each one of them. And it also has an underlying theme of beauty. What is beauty? Is beauty the same as perfection? Can we still be beautiful, strong, vibrant women even after we’ve had one, two, three, four, or more children, changed thousands of diapers, gained weight, lost youth, watched body parts give in to gravity?

I will leave you with the definition of 5 stars in my personal book rating scale: It was brilliant and you should read it immediately – in fact, everyone should.

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15 Responses to Book Review: Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center

  1. Fantastic review Carrie! I’m THRILLED that you loved it as much as I did. I have a special place in my heart for Katherine and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

  2. Wow! Thank you so much for this fantastic review! I’m so glad that you liked Everyone Is Beautiful so much. It’s really a story from the heart.
    And I have to add that I LOVE Marisa De Los Santos! She’s one of my very favorites, and it’s such a pleasure to see my writing grouped with hers.
    Many good wishes to you, and thanks again for all your kind words.
    Katherine Center

  3. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    Very well put, Carrie! I had the same love affair with this novel (I listened to it on audio, which was a treat!). I only had two babies, 20 months apart, but at one point, we had a whole lot of diapering going on. And while mine never did poop on a friend’s white couch, I totally understood the feeling that I’d lost the woman I used to be, that everyone else’s kids seem like angels while you can hear mine from a mile away (no chance in losing them in a store!), and that I needed to do something for me. I have so many books piled up that need to be read, but I do seriously want to read more of this author!

  4. Mary
    Twitter: bookfanmb

    I liked this book as well. In addition to all you mentioned I loved how Lanie remembers why and how she fell in love with her husband. A great reminder to us all, don’t you think? Especially when we’re in the middle of the days described in Everyone is Beautiful. Great book! Great review.

  5. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book so much. And since I love Marisa de los Santos (although I haven’t read Belong to Me yet), you’ve convinced me that I must read this book too! Thank you!

  6. I LOVE Katherine Center’s book as well!

    I didn’t have the same experiences as the character Lanie (my first two – girls – were 3 yrs apart – and my sons WAY after that) – and I’m a “Gammie” now – but Katherine Center’s writing totally pulled me in. You can tell that the book is written from the heart! Anyone hasn’t seen the video trailer for the book..RUN to Katherine Center’s site to watch!! And now I’m going to head out looking for Marisa de los Santos work (a little embarrassed because I never heard of her…) – oooh, love a good book suggestion!

  7. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Natasha – I need to find Bright Side of Disaster – haven’t read that yet.

    Katherine – you’re very welcome – thanks for writing such a wonderful book. 🙂

    Sandy – I’m definitely going to seek out more of her work, too.

    Mary – exactly! I loved how she realized that one of the reasons Peter’s kiss in the airport was so wonderful was because of all their history and their commitment to each other. So good.

    Avis – you’re welcome – I think you’ll really like it.

    Square-Peg Karen – I will definitely be heading over to watch the trailer – thanks for the tip, and for stopping by.

  8. Great review —

    Here’s some of the info about the book club at 5 Minutes for Books. We’re going to have prizes donated by the author, a tweet up and more:

  9. Oh my, this was BEAUTIFULLY written! I love how you point out how she felt so alone, even while she NEVER ever was alone. That’s a feeling that I can relate to at times!

    Your insights and connections with this novel are put together so well here, that I think I’d refer people to your lovely review before I’d send them to mine! 🙂

    Thanks so much for linking up, and I hope you can take part in the tweet up Thursday evening with 5M4B!

  10. CarrieK
    Twitter: booksandmovies

    Morninglightmama – thank you so much! I loved this book. I don’t know if I’ll be able to attend the tweet up, or not, but I plan to try.

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