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 big-hearted, 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.
"Two sisters face the consequences of one's mental illness in Lee's insightful debut novel. With their parents dead by the time the sisters reach early adulthood, the two young immigrants from China depend on each other. Conscientious older sister Miranda and free-spirited Lucia manage well until Lucia begins exhibiting signs of what is variously diagnosed as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, for which she is hospitalized several times. Lee follows the sisters through their forties, broadening out the story to take in the points of view of the gregarious Yonah, Lucia's Israeli immigrant first husband, and hard-working Manny, the Ecuadorian father of her child. While at times the novel loses focus and momentum, it also avoids oversimplifying Lucia's life or turning into a case study, and the tense but loving relationship between the sisters provides structure when the story begins to ramble. The interaction of cultures, with the inevitable misunderstandings that accompany it, forms a vibrant subtheme, and as the novel branches out from New York to Ecuador and then Minnesota, its sense of place deepens.--Quamme, Margaret Copyright 2017 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"At the opening of Lee's promising debut, Chinese-American Lucia Bok marries a coarse yet charming Russian-Israeli Jew named Yonah. The newlyweds quickly settle into a life in Manhattan's East Village, where Yonah runs a health food store and Lucy writes features for a Queens newspaper. But then, in quick succession, a mental illness Lucy thought had been cured returns and she realizes she wants a child. Those catalysts launch the rest of the novel's sprawling turbulence as characters deal with love, duty, the medical establishment, heritage, and the difficult choices that shape a life. Lee tells the story from several points of view, and the section from Lucy's perspective is the stand-out: Lucy is funny, observant, and emotionally intelligent. Her descriptions buzz with the unexpected: "They said I 'suffer' from schizoaffective disorder. That's like the sampler plate of diagnoses, Best of Everything." The other sections are staid by comparison, and the prose is occasionally marred by awkward, clipped constructions, as well as some distracting overreaches. But Lee handles a sensitive subject with empathy and courage. Readers will find much to admire and ponder throughout, and Lucy's section reveals Lee as a writer of considerable talent and power. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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