Everything Here Is Beautiful
‟A tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters.”—Celeste Ng, New York Times bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere“There's not a false note to be found, and everywhere there are nuggets to savor. Why did it have to end?” --O Magazine“A bold debut. . . Lee sensitively relays experiences of immigration and mental illness, . . . a distinct literary voice.” –Entertainment Weekly“Extraordinary. . . If you love anyone at all, this book is going to get you.” –USA TodayA dazzling novel of two sisters and their emotional journey through love, loyalty, and heartbreakTwo Chinese-American 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 Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, 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?Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its heart, an immigrant story, and 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.

Everything Here Is Beautiful Details

TitleEverything Here Is Beautiful
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 16th, 2018
PublisherPamela Dorman Books
ISBN-139780735221963
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Health, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction

Everything Here Is Beautiful Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    And then, her worst fear: that the line between her sister and her illness was becoming irrevocably blurred. Lately, I'm really enjoying these quieter family drama books with strong writing, unforgettable characters, and a deep emotional pull. Perhaps I'm a little burned out on tropes and action but, whatever the reason, Everything Here Is Beautiful worked its way into my heart and kept me hooked on the characters' lives until the very last page.At its heart, this novel looks at living with a c And then, her worst fear: that the line between her sister and her illness was becoming irrevocably blurred. Lately, I'm really enjoying these quieter family drama books with strong writing, unforgettable characters, and a deep emotional pull. Perhaps I'm a little burned out on tropes and action but, whatever the reason, Everything Here Is Beautiful worked its way into my heart and kept me hooked on the characters' lives until the very last page.At its heart, this novel looks at living with a chronic mental illness. Lucia is the wild, funny, brilliant, extravagant sister, as the more serious and controlled Miranda has always known. She's also prone to spiralling into cycles of depression and obsessive behaviour, fuelled by her schizoaffective disorder. Miranda knows that, too, and her adult life has mostly been dedicated to ensuring her sister takes the pills that mute the voices in her head. Later, I would be told I had a twenty percent chance of maintaining a full-time job, a twenty-five percent chance of living independently, a forty percent chance of attempting suicide, a ten percent chance of succeeding.I was twenty-six years old. As the two Chinese-American women get older, they build their own lives. Lucia marries a big-hearted one-armed Israeli man called Yonah and Miranda moves to Switzerland, whose clean precision suits her personality well. Lucia's life moves through ups and downs, soon taking her away from Yonah and to a young Ecuadorian called Manuel, who is living in New York as an undocumented immigrant. The story centers around Lucia and her struggle with the "serpents" in her mind, as she takes on motherhood, living in Ecuador, and a career of her own, but Lee develops all the other characters around her so that Lucia doesn't feel like a lab specimen being scrutinized. Miranda, Manuel and Yonah are all intricately-drawn, with their own stories being as important and poignant as Lucia's.The book moves through several different perspectives and switches between first and third person. In other books, I sometimes find such constant movement between characters to be jarring, but they were all portrayed with such love and sensitivity here that I never experienced that familiar dissatisfaction of being with a character who was less interesting than the others.Lee shows all the misunderstandings and misinformation around mental illness. She considers Lucia's fear that her illness is the "reality" and that the pills are numbing it, as well as Miranda and Manuel's difficulty of distinguishing eccentricities from mental illness. Where does a person end and their illness begin? The honest answer is that no one really knows.A beautiful, thought-provoking book with the kind of characters I know will stay with me. I’m human first, aren’t I? Aren’t we all? Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
    more
  • Crumb
    January 1, 1970
    This novel was an intense meditation on how mental illness can affect not only the person suffering, but everyone around them. It was about one woman’s descent into madness and a sister who stood by and fought to protect her with every fragment of her being. Although this book was about mental illness, schizophrenia to be precise, it was about so much more than that. It was about love,family, and tenacity. It was also about the bond between two sisters. Finally, it was about perseverance when it This novel was an intense meditation on how mental illness can affect not only the person suffering, but everyone around them. It was about one woman’s descent into madness and a sister who stood by and fought to protect her with every fragment of her being. Although this book was about mental illness, schizophrenia to be precise, it was about so much more than that. It was about love,family, and tenacity. It was also about the bond between two sisters. Finally, it was about perseverance when it seemed that all hope was lost. This book offers a unique perspective on mental illness. We not only see how the protagonist is affected, but we see how everyone surrounding her is affected as well. Miranda, Lucia’s sister, was fighting to ensure and preserve Lucia’s safety and sanity. As a reader, we see the tension between Lucia and Miranda; All Miranda wants is for Lucia to take her medication. Lucia, however, doesn’t understand why she needs medication. From her viewpoint, she isn’t sick. For Lucia, these “serpents in her mind” are her reality. They are her norm. They are as real to her as this window I am looking out of right now. I wanted to scream, and cry, and shout, and shake Lucia, just as Miranda did. I wanted Lucia to understand that she was ill, and to understand why she desperately needs to take care of herself. I wanted to force Lucia to see the light, just as her sister, Miranda did. Of course, that’s not realistic. The only way a person can get better is when they accept that they have a problem and make a decision to seek help, for themselves, and not for anyone else. I also appreciated that this book shined a bright light on the topic of mental illness and opened up a dialogue for an issue that I think has been shrouded in darkness and stigmatized for far too long. When someone is suffering from diabetes, there is no shame in that. When someone has cancer and they survive, they are considered a warrior. Why aren't people who struggle with mental illness viewed the same way? I want to open up a dialogue about mental illness. There should be no shame or guilt surrounding issues involving mental health. I don't think people need to talk about depression or bipolar disorder in hushed tones, behind closed doors. Let's start a conversation.I highly recommend this book. This was a heartbreaking book, but an important one. It was also an impressive debut. Bravo!
    more
  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    There are moments of beauty for everyone when one clears away the fog; the clutter. In nature, in joy. We all experience it- Young and old; heathy; sick. The optimist and sometimes even the pessimist. And for those who suffer from mental illness- The highs; the lows. The instability of the disease and the stability of relationships.But there is a whole lot going on in this story that is not beautiful, but instead very sad and heartbreaking. This is a story of 2 sisters. The younger one who suffe There are moments of beauty for everyone when one clears away the fog; the clutter. In nature, in joy. We all experience it- Young and old; heathy; sick. The optimist and sometimes even the pessimist. And for those who suffer from mental illness- The highs; the lows. The instability of the disease and the stability of relationships.But there is a whole lot going on in this story that is not beautiful, but instead very sad and heartbreaking. This is a story of 2 sisters. The younger one who suffers from mental illness; the older one who suffers from the burden of worrying about her younger sister. The guilt of living her own life not knowing at times where her sister was especially when not getting treatment.It's about living with the illness and the reactions from people not familiar with the disease- another battle on its own.But, there are moments of beauty here too. As heavy of a read this is, it's about a relationship between sisters; between partners; between family. My heart is heavy for Lucia, Miranda and my favourite, Yonah. This is life- in its moments of darkness, heart achingly sad and gloomy; in its light, exquisitely blindingly bright and beautiful. 5⭐️ for an emotional written, although heart hurting, debut.
    more
  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    Audiobook.....with fantastic narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Emily Woo Zeller, and others. ISRAELI’S DON’T ICE FISH!...... .....Hello? They live in the desert- ice fishing in Michigan is crazy-thinking to a grumpy Israeli-immigrant. A few times I laughed - laughed hard - as I felt I understood Yonah, ( a character from Israel)...who had no interest in ICE FISHING....Yonah was just one of the complex characters we come to know.But - most of the time - I wasn’t laughing. This is a heart-wrenching - Audiobook.....with fantastic narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Emily Woo Zeller, and others. ISRAELI’S DON’T ICE FISH!...... .....Hello? They live in the desert- ice fishing in Michigan is crazy-thinking to a grumpy Israeli-immigrant. A few times I laughed - laughed hard - as I felt I understood Yonah, ( a character from Israel)...who had no interest in ICE FISHING....Yonah was just one of the complex characters we come to know.But - most of the time - I wasn’t laughing. This is a heart-wrenching - sensitive story focused on two sisters - their relationship - their extended relationships - and the aching hole inside them both. We hurt for ‘both’ of them for different reasons. Miranda has felt responsible for her younger sister, Lucia, since they were young - especially after their mother died. Lucia is not well - lovable - a delightful free spirit - but suffers with a mental illness —-an unclear diagnosis. It’s Miranda that keeps tracks of Lucia’s behavior - knows her history more than anyone - tracks her medications - but she also can never be 100% sure when Lucia is ‘in’ her disease or if her spunky personality is her normal state of being. In other words - she is often walking on eggshells. Miranda makes suggestions - but it’s not her place to control her sister either. The girls are of Chinese descent - and are living in the United States. There is a lot going on in this novel: mental illness- illegal immigration - undocumented Manny (Ecuadorian) - tensions - family tensions - sacrifices - husbands - births - judgements- fears -EVERYONE IS AFFECTED- deaths - loss- grief - guilt - This novel asks us many questions— how do we create a successful relationship with a loved one when the circumstances of their behaviors are beyond our control? How do we best be supportive yet not be so entangled that we can’t separate ourselves either? There are no characters in here who don’t suffer from insecurities - IN RELATING TO EACH OTHER..... but their voices are heard. We hear them. We feel them - have compassion for them. The author’s talents and humanity are both huge! GREAT BOOK!!!!
    more
  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    There are times when everything here really is beautiful, but there were many times when it wasn't. The times when the complexities of a woman's recurring mental illness not only take over her life, but impacts the lives of the people close to her - her sister, the men in her life, her baby daughter. This story is filled with sadness and love as Lucia struggles with her demons, those voices in her head, the ups and downs, while trying to just live out her dreams and desires. It's also very much There are times when everything here really is beautiful, but there were many times when it wasn't. The times when the complexities of a woman's recurring mental illness not only take over her life, but impacts the lives of the people close to her - her sister, the men in her life, her baby daughter. This story is filled with sadness and love as Lucia struggles with her demons, those voices in her head, the ups and downs, while trying to just live out her dreams and desires. It's also very much her sister Miranda's story who is desperate to help Lucia get the right diagnosis, the right medication and puts her life on hold every time Lucia needs help whether she wants it or not . The story is told from multiple points of view - Miranda's and Lucia's, both when she is doing well and the times when she isn't. We also get the perspective of Manny, the Ecuadorian man who is the father of Lucia's daughter, with whom she has a relationship with after her marriage fails. It's hard to read at times as it depicts the difficulties of treatment, the difficulties of compliance with treatment and the difficulties of diagnosing the illness and the things that happen when Lucia won't take her meds. Is it schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, a combination ? I have had no real experience dealing with mental illness with anyone close to me so it's hard for me to tell how realistic the portrayal is but it definitely felt real and it was heartbreaking. There's so much to this story. The sisters' past with their mother who has lost her husband and emigrates from China to the US with Miranda and pregnant with Lucia. Lucia's move to Ecuador with Manny and their daughter, her continuing struggle. Throughout I couldn't help but want things to be better for Lucia and was pulled towards the end in hopes of that it would be. It's about how debilitating mental illness can be, about family bonds that can't be broken. A haunting tale, with characters you care about. I have to give 5 stars to this well written debut novel. I received an advanced copy of this book from Dorman Books through Edelweiss.
    more
  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
    January 1, 1970
    Lucia is a schizophrenic and Miranda tries everything she can to help her sister. She did the best she could. The author shows how each person close to Lucia is touched by this mental illness. This book is so heartbreaking. I am not sure who struggles the most, the family or the one with the mental illness. I don't think anyone knew the severity of Lucia's illness but her sister did. Lucia seemed to need people on her side to tell her its O.K not to take her medication and be hospitalized, when Lucia is a schizophrenic and Miranda tries everything she can to help her sister. She did the best she could. The author shows how each person close to Lucia is touched by this mental illness. This book is so heartbreaking. I am not sure who struggles the most, the family or the one with the mental illness. I don't think anyone knew the severity of Lucia's illness but her sister did. Lucia seemed to need people on her side to tell her its O.K not to take her medication and be hospitalized, when of course both is needed. She is a danger to those around her, to her baby, to those she lives with, and to herself, yet she doesn't see it and no one can make her. Not unless she takes her medication. She loves Yonah, because he let's her be herself, and he doesn't care if she takes her medications.Miranda has to be the strong one. She doesnt show weakness or show emotion. No one takes care of her, but she takes care of everyone. She tries the best she can to get the help her sister needs. I think the author gives us a powerful message. I loved how the author has taken us into the mind of Lucy and let's us see and feel what is going on in her mind. It really showed how frightening and fearful the mental illness is and what Lucia went through with her thoughts. To live with psychotic episodes, the hallucinations both auditory and visual has to be terrifying. I think if she took her medications she would of been able to manage her life better.Manny, in the beginning didn't seem to be informed as he needed to be about her illness. He then finally made sure that Lucia took her medications, seeing that she was a danger for him and his daughter.He had to be responsible. I loved how the author has provided us with an insight into each characters thoughts. This book is a heart wrenching family drama about relationships and tough choices-how much we're willing to sacrifice for the ones we love and when its time to let go and save ourselves. All of the characters were so well developed. The author did a really good job bringing the book to life with the characters. I really did get to know each character. Some parts of the book has difficult subject matter and can be so heartbreaking. I really loved this book.I highly recommend it.This was a Traveling Sister read and loved reading this with them. It was a very fantastic discussion.I want to thank Edelweiss, the publisher and the author for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    5 Stars for this heartbreaking story of a young woman named Lucia with mental illness, who struggles with the “serpents” inside her. A story of how this mental illness impacts her relationships with her very close older sister, and then later her husband, lover, and child. We are taken to many locations in this book as Lucia changes her life course.. from New York, to Ecuador, to Minnesota. Also covered in this story are immigration, and Mental Health Care. This was, surprisingly, a debut novel! 5 Stars for this heartbreaking story of a young woman named Lucia with mental illness, who struggles with the “serpents” inside her. A story of how this mental illness impacts her relationships with her very close older sister, and then later her husband, lover, and child. We are taken to many locations in this book as Lucia changes her life course.. from New York, to Ecuador, to Minnesota. Also covered in this story are immigration, and Mental Health Care. This was, surprisingly, a debut novel! Well done!Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Viking for the ARC
    more
  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Mental illness and the huge toll it takes on family, friends and the sufferers themselves. We meet two sisters, Jie, the responsible one, the protector and Lucia, creative, whimsical, impetuous. Two very different women, trying to have stable lives, but find many impediments in their paths. Stable lives built on an unstable foundation. We hear many different viewpoints, from different people, see and feel many different sides as those close try to help Lucia, keep her stable, taking her meds 4.5 Mental illness and the huge toll it takes on family, friends and the sufferers themselves. We meet two sisters, Jie, the responsible one, the protector and Lucia, creative, whimsical, impetuous. Two very different women, trying to have stable lives, but find many impediments in their paths. Stable lives built on an unstable foundation. We hear many different viewpoints, from different people, see and feel many different sides as those close try to help Lucia, keep her stable, taking her meds.How this drains them, often not knowing what to do, nor how to help or even cope.It is Lucia's story, her thoughts that bring the reader into her very being, her inner core. She tries so hard, wants only good things for those she loves, which eventually includes a young daughter. She is at times so much fun, imaginative, a hard worker, but sometimes she doesnt know what is real, what is not. She is in and out of different facilities, diagnosed with different mentasl illnesses, given medications, some with horrible sdide effects. We see the toll this takes on all.It is also as novel about the alienation, the fear people feel when they don't know how to fix things. The strain and stress of always watching, waiting. The different health care facilities in other countries, or lack thereof. This is a very emotional read, and the ending is as well. I became so invested in these characters, their lives, felt their struggle, their desperation at times. This is a very character driven read, and one in which I became emotionally involved. Beautifully written and extremely well done.ARC from Edelweiss.
    more
  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 Deeply moving, honest stars to Everything Here Is Beautiful!May all books about mental health challenges be this honest, this realistic. From the start, I was enthralled with Miranda and Lucia’s characters. These sisters had an interesting beginning in the United States after moving with their single mother from China. Family stories are always my favorite, and this one delivered “family” on every level. The story follows Miranda and Lucia throughout their lives, including Lucia’s development 5 Deeply moving, honest stars to Everything Here Is Beautiful!May all books about mental health challenges be this honest, this realistic. From the start, I was enthralled with Miranda and Lucia’s characters. These sisters had an interesting beginning in the United States after moving with their single mother from China. Family stories are always my favorite, and this one delivered “family” on every level. The story follows Miranda and Lucia throughout their lives, including Lucia’s development of a mental illness and thereafter. What ensued is a true-to-life account of a sister who tried to advocate, save, support her sister, while also trying to find the balance and living her own life. When Miranda wasn’t there, it was Yonah (oh, what a loveable character!), Lucia’s first husband. And when not him, it was Manny (equally loveable in different ways), her second husband and the father to her child. Each person had his/her own way of helping Lucia, and the manner in which the story was told added layer upon layer of perspective from each voice. A side benefit to book was culture- Chinese culture, Israeli culture, Ecuadorian culture, and the culture of mental health. All of that led to empathy. My biggest hope is that this book will help in gaining insight into the area of mental health (we all have mental health! 😊), perspective-taking, and through that, empathy. It would be typical and easy to feel sad for Lucia and her family members. Anyone would. They went through so much trying to live life while taking care of her. But what’s more important, and most definitely harder, is to move past the sympathy and sadness, which disconnects you from the pain of others, and feel connected to others through empathy- by walking in Lucia’s/Miranda’s/Yonah’s/Manny’s/Essy’s shoes. Through empathy there comes true acceptance, and I think that’s what many facing difficulties with mental health want more than anything. I’m passionate about mental health, and I’m so grateful that this book was written with truth, heart, and complete realism, even though I will always wish/hope for better outcomes. Everything Here is Beautiful is what my huggable bookshelf is all about.This was a Traveling Sister read that I joined in late, once everyone else had finished. My sisters are awesome and came back to the thread to discuss with me throughout. I think it shows how much we all cared about this book and its characters. 💕 Please visit Brenda and Norma’s blog for sister reviews: http://twogirlslostinacouleereading.w...Thank you to Mira T. Lee, Pamela Dorman Books/Penguin, and Edelweiss for the complimentary copy of this deeply moving book.
    more
  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars, rounded up.I'm not crying, you're crying."But it was impossible to know the truth of another's interior life. Wasn't it?"Miranda has always looked after her younger sister, Lucia. When Miranda and her mother first emigrated to America from China, her mother was pregnant with Lucia, and Miranda considered it her responsibility to protect the baby, even before it was born. And so it went throughout their childhood, as their mother strove to provide them a better life. Miranda was the se 4.5 stars, rounded up.I'm not crying, you're crying."But it was impossible to know the truth of another's interior life. Wasn't it?"Miranda has always looked after her younger sister, Lucia. When Miranda and her mother first emigrated to America from China, her mother was pregnant with Lucia, and Miranda considered it her responsibility to protect the baby, even before it was born. And so it went throughout their childhood, as their mother strove to provide them a better life. Miranda was the sensible, sturdy one; Lucia was creative, dreamy, emotional.After their mother died, Miranda knows her sister is still her responsibility. When her sister starts behaving erratically, becoming paranoid, hearing voices, Miranda steps in, ensures she gets the treatment and the medicines she needs to keep her life on course. But since Lucia is an adult, Miranda doesn't have the control, can't make her do what is best, can't keep her safe if she doesn't want to be.Impetuous as ever, Lucia meets and marries Yonah, an older Israeli man who runs a health food store in New York. He is devoted to Lucia and has no idea of the tumult she keeps at bay. When she becomes ill again, it is Miranda who comes to the rescue, but once again, she must stand by, powerless, as Yonah heeds Lucia's wishes and releases her from the hospital. But when Lucia decides she wants something different, and leaves Yonah and their life behind, all Miranda can do is wait until everything falls apart again.How much can one person be expected to sacrifice for a loved one? How much abuse can you tolerate being hurled at you by someone you are trying to take care of, even when you know they don't mean the things they say? Miranda's life is lived in stops and starts as she waits for the next crisis to emerge.Lucia then meets Manny, a young Ecuadorian immigrant, and has a baby with him. But after her illness rears its head again, and she pushes Miranda away, she realizes that perhaps moving to Ecuador will make everything better. For a while it does, but Lucia can never escape the fact that she lives with mental illness, no matter how she tries to fight those who want what is best for her. Meanwhile, Miranda must decide whether she should continue to be her sister's keeper when needed, constantly disrupting her own life.Told in shifting points of view, Everything Here is Beautiful is a poignant, powerful, beautifully written account of living with mental illness and the toll it takes on everyone around the individual. It has an almost epic feel at times, traveling through continents and through time, but at its core, this is a simple, moving story about the relationship between two sisters, the push-and-pull of familial obligations.At times I thought the pacing felt a little slow, but Mira T. Lee tells her story so skillfully, and makes you care about characters even as they aren't entirely sympathetic. It is hard to believe that this is Lee's debut novel, because everything feels true and flows smoothly.There are many books, both fiction and nonfiction, which chronicle the effects of mental illness and the sacrifices required of caregivers and loved ones. Everything Here is Beautiful is an important addition to that canon, but it never feels heavy-handed or preachy. And darned if you won't wipe a tear or two away at the same time!See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
    more
  • Julie
    January 1, 1970
    Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee is a 2018 Pamela Dorman Books publication. Both breathtaking and heartbreaking-This is a novel about the bonds of sisterhood, of familial duty, of love, all tested by the drain and strain of debilitating mental illness. While the story is exquisitely painful and is not a book I’d recommend for someone feeling depressed or who may be in a bad place, it is also a beautifully written story, very powerful, and realistic, yet poignantly sensitive, without b Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee is a 2018 Pamela Dorman Books publication. Both breathtaking and heartbreaking-This is a novel about the bonds of sisterhood, of familial duty, of love, all tested by the drain and strain of debilitating mental illness. While the story is exquisitely painful and is not a book I’d recommend for someone feeling depressed or who may be in a bad place, it is also a beautifully written story, very powerful, and realistic, yet poignantly sensitive, without becoming maudlin. The reader is given insight into Lucia’s thoughts and feelings, which are often free spirited, determined, and all told, relatively normal… until they are not. When the illness takes over, she loses the ability to function and being inside her mind during the throes of a schizoid episode is a very scary place to be. It is both incredibly sad and horrifying to watch the metamorphosis. Miranda is Lucia’s sister, her caretaker and the decision maker when it comes to making choices about her health. Miranda feels powerless, suffering as much as Lucia, but in an obviously different way, since she is left making very painful choices about what is best for her sister. Lucia is often bitterly resentful of Miranda’s role, disrupting the balance and nature of their relationship, as Miranda struggles to live and enjoy her own life. While Miranda takes a traditional, stable path in life, Lucia’s relationships are more complicated, as she copes with the challenges of living outside her own country, motherhood, and the shadow of her illness haunting her and her loved ones. But, her fierce determination to live life to its fullest, and to be a good mother, are inspiring, despite the odds against her. The drain mental illness takes on the family is emphasized, as even those who start out being involved and supportive, lose their tenacity, and fall away, like casualties or collateral damage. The health care system is flawed, as are our many misguided and misinformed concepts of mental illness. It’s hard to understand. It’s not like a physical disability where people can see the obvious effects on the body. Having to cope with the stigma associated with mental disease and the treatments which are often difficult to adhere to, can impede progress or completely shut it down. While watching the family dynamics morph from a typical sisterly relationship into one of obligation and bitterness, it’s hard to miss the sinister hold such a serious disease has on the lives of these characters. But, mental illness is not the only subject addressed as the author quite adeptly paints a realistic portrait of immigration from different perspectives. The time Lucia spends in Ecuador, is as telling as Manny’s in America, with the pressure to assimilate, which also adds rich cultural details and diversity to the story. This book is grave and somber, with a moderately upbeat epilogue, and I admit, I felt a bit melancholy for a while after reading it, but it brings a new awareness to its readers in an emotional and heart wrenching way that is necessary and real, and in such a way you will most assuredly find it hard to forget. This is a topic we need to center more conversations around, and this book could be a great segue to bringing these uncomfortable subjects out in the open. My hope is that these characters will touch a nerve, will open your heart, make you think, make you more sympathetic, more understanding, better informed, and more involved.
    more
  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    This book broke my heart. In a million pieces.At its heart, this novel is about the bond between two sisters (I love that!): Miranda, the older, more responsible one, and Lucia, the younger one who everybody loves. After their mother’s death, Lucia starts to hear voices and spinning out of control, leaving her husband Yonah to have a child with a younger man, Manuel/ Manny, being in and out of hospital, seemingly to get better to then just spiral out of control again. Mira T. Lee tells a complex This book broke my heart. In a million pieces.At its heart, this novel is about the bond between two sisters (I love that!): Miranda, the older, more responsible one, and Lucia, the younger one who everybody loves. After their mother’s death, Lucia starts to hear voices and spinning out of control, leaving her husband Yonah to have a child with a younger man, Manuel/ Manny, being in and out of hospital, seemingly to get better to then just spiral out of control again. Mira T. Lee tells a complex story, dealing not only with mental illness, but also talking about experiences with immigration (Miranda and Lucia are Chinese-American, Yonah is from Israel and Manny is a illegal immigrant from Ecuador), about finding a home in the world, about finding a way to be happy. If there was one criticism of this book it would be that sometimes the author took on too much and the scope becomes too broad (the story spans different cities in the US, Ecuador, Switzerland, and China…).What impressed me most was how complex the characters and their interactions were; even when they were at odds with each other, each stayed sympathetic to this reader. The story is told very effectively from alternating viewpoints; each time recontextualizing what happened before and adding even more depth to the story. It takes about a third of the book before the narrative shifts for the first time to Lucia’s viewpoint; everything we see from her point of view is coloured by what we saw before.Mira T. Lee shows the difficulties of loving a person with mental illnesses, but also how difficult it is to be that person. There is a point in this story where every time Lucia does something Manny cannot understand, he blames her illness, never thinking that maybe he is not innocent in how their relationship evolves (cheating on her when she just had their baby, not understanding why she wants to work when they move to his family in Ecuador, and so on and so forth). Miranda does the same to a lesser extent: in her desire to protect her kid sister she loses sight of the fact that Lucia is still a grown-up who is allowed to make decisions her older sister would not make. She also hopes that just by making sure her sister takes her pills that the situation will be under control, simplifying the complex situation to a dangerous extent.There are no easy answers in this book, nobody is wholly innocent in how events unfold (except for Lucia’s and Manny’s daughter, obviously), but the characters stay sympathetic throughout, they were believable in their growth and their failures, and absolutely worth spending time with.First sentences: “A summer day in New Jersey. A house with a yard. The younger one, four, likes to fold her body over the seat of her swing, observe the world from upside down.”I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and PENGUIN GROUP Viking in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Dorie ** Traveling Sister**
    January 1, 1970
    Every so often I come across a book that is so wonderful, so eye opening and so well written that I want to stand on a corner and press this book into everyone’s hands. This is one of them.With a thumbs up from Celeste Ng, one of my favorite authors and some favorable reviews from my goodreads friends, I was anxious to get into this novel which publishes at the beginning of January 2018. I was not prepared for the power of this story, the incredible bond between two sisters, their ability to lov Every so often I come across a book that is so wonderful, so eye opening and so well written that I want to stand on a corner and press this book into everyone’s hands. This is one of them.With a thumbs up from Celeste Ng, one of my favorite authors and some favorable reviews from my goodreads friends, I was anxious to get into this novel which publishes at the beginning of January 2018. I was not prepared for the power of this story, the incredible bond between two sisters, their ability to love each other but know when to let go and when to hold on.Lucia and Miranda were born in New Jersey, the daughters of a Chinese American who came to this country after her husband died to begin anew. She studied accounting and raised her two daughters. Miranda is the oldest at 11 and Lucia only four. Not much time is spent on their childhood but it was a good one and the girls prospered, did well in school and attended University. It isn’t until Lucia is in her twenties that she experiences her first full blown mental breakdown. She had been living with a much older man who loved her dearly but didn’t understand her mental illness. The diagnoses were mixed, schizophrenia, bipolar, or a combination of both. As so many people with mental illness she doesn’t like how she is when she is on medications. They make her feel dull, sleepy, not herself at all. Throughout the book Lucia wrestles with the voices in her head, she calls them “the serpents”. In Lucia’s words after her first inpatient hospital stay states “Later, I would be told I had a 20% chance of maintaining a full-time job, a 25% chance of living independently, a 40% chance of attempting suicide, a 10% chance of succeeding”. She was only 26 years old, this isn’t reassuring news for any of them. Still she loves to write, she writes about the people in their neighborhood, their immigrant stories. She longs for a job at a newspaper but whenever her mental illness is discovered she never lands that dream job.There are stories within stories. Lucia finding love but then abandoning it in search of a father for a baby that she desperately wants. She finds a form of love in Manny, an immigrant from Ecuador, and they return there for several years and raise the baby, Esperanza, in that bright and sunny place. They are poor in material things but compensated with the love of an extended family and a place where they all feel free for a long while, until Lucia once again is drawn down into her dark place with the voices and serpents she continually fights.Miranda, the ever watchful sister, never abandons Lucia. She finds her own love with Stephen and they move to Switzerland. For many years she monitors Lucia from afar. She loves her life in Switzerland, the peaceful community where they live, her husband is a urologist and she is involved in the community and chairing fund raising events at the hospital. Her husband loves her and never holds her back even when she travels to Ecuador to try and help Miranda but he also stated “you can’t help her, you have tried, you’ve been trying all these years. What about your life Miranda?”.I loved the Epilogue in this book which I won’t disclose, it’s beautiful, hopeful and strong. Buy this book, read it and maybe we can all understand a little bit more of what it must be like to live with a mental illness. The story is also told from multiple POV’s, including Lucia when she is “normal” and when she is having a “breakdown”, Miranda, Manny and Yonah,and these points of view strongly enhance the story. I also have to state that I am in awe of this author, that this is a debut novel is so impressive!I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss, thank you.
    more
  • Theresa Alan
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a little while to get into this novel about two sisters over many years, but once I got into the unique, dazzling style of storytelling, I was gripped. The older Miranda always looked out for her younger sister Lucia. Initially, they are close, but after Lucia’s first breakdown, tensions begin. If Lucia goes off her medication, she might have another break, and she resents Miranda’s, to her mind, patronizing way of trying to force her to take medication that makes her drowsy and cloud It took me a little while to get into this novel about two sisters over many years, but once I got into the unique, dazzling style of storytelling, I was gripped. The older Miranda always looked out for her younger sister Lucia. Initially, they are close, but after Lucia’s first breakdown, tensions begin. If Lucia goes off her medication, she might have another break, and she resents Miranda’s, to her mind, patronizing way of trying to force her to take medication that makes her drowsy and clouded. It becomes a tense story in a very different way than the suspense novels I read. This was because of the tension of waiting for Lucia to have another breakdown. I was rooting for all of the complex characters in this novel, so I wasn’t only worried for Lucia, but on the strain this caused for Miranda and her relationships, and the relationships Lucia had with her two great loves, both immigrants like Miranda and herself. If you’re looking for a light, funny read, this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for well-drawn characters that will stay with you long after you reach The End, I highly recommend this beautiful novel.Thanks so much to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. For more of my reviews, please visit: http://www.theresaalan.net/blog
    more
  • JanB
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this story of two sisters, Miranda and Lucia, who immigrated with their mother from China to the U.S. Miranda was very young, and their mother was pregnant with Lucia. The girls have a close relationship as they grow up, but Lucia begins to exhibit troubling symptoms of mental illness as a young adult. The story spans decades and several continents, and we follow the sisters throughout their lives, as they deal with marriage, motherhood, jobs, moves to other countries, and, of c I really enjoyed this story of two sisters, Miranda and Lucia, who immigrated with their mother from China to the U.S. Miranda was very young, and their mother was pregnant with Lucia. The girls have a close relationship as they grow up, but Lucia begins to exhibit troubling symptoms of mental illness as a young adult. The story spans decades and several continents, and we follow the sisters throughout their lives, as they deal with marriage, motherhood, jobs, moves to other countries, and, of course, mental illness. I think the author's message was consistent throughout in exploring the effects of mental illness on an individual and their family. What can happen when treatment and compliance is lacking? How much autonomy and freedom should an ill adult have when other lives are affected? How much responsibility should family members take on? Especially when help isn’t wanted? How much should the family sacrifice? None of these questions have easy answers and I appreciated the author not dealing with them lightly and avoiding offering up pat solutions. While I enjoyed the book, especially the themes of family bonds and mental illness, I did think the story lagged just a bit once the setting changed to Ecuador. And then at the end there was a sudden time jump of decades, which was a little jarring.Overall, this is a strong, thought-provoking debut and would make an excellent book club choice. I look forward to seeing what the author writes next.I read this with the Traveling Sister group. The book inspired wonderful discussion. Their blog review of this book and others can be found at :https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....Many thanks to Edelweiss, Penguin Random House and the author for an e-galley of the book for review.
    more
  • Susanne Strong
    January 1, 1970
    4 Stars.What do you do when everything starts falling apart around you? When you hear and see things that no one else does? When no one else makes any sense and no one listens or understands you? Lucia, one of the characters in “Everything Here is Beautiful,” struggles with exactly that. Miranda, her sister, Yonah, her husband, and later, Manny, her boyfriend and their daughter Essy, struggle with how to care for and love her, during all of her ups and downs. It is extremely difficult to endure 4 Stars.What do you do when everything starts falling apart around you? When you hear and see things that no one else does? When no one else makes any sense and no one listens or understands you? Lucia, one of the characters in “Everything Here is Beautiful,” struggles with exactly that. Miranda, her sister, Yonah, her husband, and later, Manny, her boyfriend and their daughter Essy, struggle with how to care for and love her, during all of her ups and downs. It is extremely difficult to endure and filled with a myriad of emotion. “Everything Here is Beautiful” expertly explores the ideas of Love, Guilt and Obligation when it comes to everyone involved in caring for Lucia. Miranda, Yonah and Mannys’ struggles to care for Lucia were just as prevalent as Lucia’s experience with mental illness and no one was left unscathed. What impressed me the most was the author’s ability to create distinct and unique characters, all of whom had a very clear voice. This is a novel that makes you feel, it leaves you unsettled and wrenches at your heart and at times - tears it right out of your chest. To say that I really enjoyed “Everything Here is Beautiful” is an understatement. It opened my eyes, made me more aware and hopefully, made me more considerate. This was a Traveling Sister Read. It included: Brenda, Jan B., Crumb, Marialyce and Mary Beth. Our discussions regarding this book were heartfelt and well, beautiful. I was fortunate to read this with them!For Full Traveling Sister Group Reviews, please see Brenda and Norma’s Brilliant Blog: https://twogirlslostinacouleereading....Thank you to Edelweiss, Penguin Publishing Group and Mira T. Lee for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.Published on Edelweiss, Amazon, Goodreads and Twitter on 1.30.18.
    more
  • Carol (Bookaria)
    January 1, 1970
    This is a novel about mental illness and how it affects the people close to the person suffering from it. It is also a story about love, sisterhood, and perseverance. Miranda and Lucia are sisters. They grew up in the States and are the daughters of a Chinese immigrant. Miranda has always felt responsible for her younger sister Lucia, not only because she's the oldest one but also because since she was a young adult Lucia has suffered from a mental illness in the form of schizophrenia. The book This is a novel about mental illness and how it affects the people close to the person suffering from it. It is also a story about love, sisterhood, and perseverance. Miranda and Lucia are sisters. They grew up in the States and are the daughters of a Chinese immigrant. Miranda has always felt responsible for her younger sister Lucia, not only because she's the oldest one but also because since she was a young adult Lucia has suffered from a mental illness in the form of schizophrenia. The book describes Lucia's episodes throughout her life and it is told in alternating points of view. Most of the novel takes place in New York, Minnesota and Ecuador. I found the story incredibly detailed and heartbreaking. My favorite characters were Miranda, a compassionate sister who made many sacrifices to help Lucia; and Yonah, what an uplifting man!Overall I enjoyed the novel and recommend it to readers of contemporary fiction. 3.5 rounded up. I received an advance copy from the publisher via Edelweiss
    more
  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    4 sad but so very relevant starsThis was a tragic, sad novel about the closeness of family, the ravages of mental illness, and the way families of those affected deal with this illness.How do we treat, how do we react, how do we try our best to keep family together to provide the best care, the best place, the best life we can have to the people affected by mental disorders.For Lucia Bok, life is full of dreams, of aspirations, of freedom. She is a free spirit wanting to travel, to go forward fi 4 sad but so very relevant starsThis was a tragic, sad novel about the closeness of family, the ravages of mental illness, and the way families of those affected deal with this illness.How do we treat, how do we react, how do we try our best to keep family together to provide the best care, the best place, the best life we can have to the people affected by mental disorders.For Lucia Bok, life is full of dreams, of aspirations, of freedom. She is a free spirit wanting to travel, to go forward filling her life with all the zest, with joy, with freedom. She wants to find her comfortable place where everything is beautiful, where she can be all she wants to be. She travels, she reads, she plans, she moves forward, she loves, and yes, she is eccentric. However, those things that make her different start to escalate into psychoses and more and more episodes appear, Lucia learns that she is suffering a mental illness.For Miranda Bok, seeing her sister, a person she loves walk down this road, is devastating. Lucia is given medication to control the episodes but feels that this medication begins to define what she is. She fights to be free, to be her own person, to not be dependent on pills. She wants that freedom so bad to chose her own path and yet, is she capable of that? For Yonah, the Jewish man who comes to love Lucia, seeing her as a confined bird. He loves her, wants the best for her, and yet he will possibly lose her to this disease. Can he possibly give her that freedom she so desires?For Manny, the father of Lucia's child, Essy, he feels helpless. How does he help her? How does he, a poor illegal, understand and provide a safe haven for her. He is frightened by what he sees. He is bound to Lucia because they have a daughter. He loves her for what she can be. He is scared of what she is becoming.This was such an emotional story, told with such insights into the role mental illness can play not only on the person affected by also by the family and friends who surround that person. How much can we curtail a person? How much can we intervene without controlling their lives, a life which is really their own? No one is unscathed by this disease, no one escapes, and no one can ever forget the lasting effects this disease has on family and loved ones. This was a wonderful debut by Mira Lee who allowed the reader to be her characters, to feel their hurt, their love, and their loss.Thank you to the sisters who read this tragic novel with me. As always our discussion provided me with insights, knowledge, and empathy. Thank you to the author, publisher and edelweiss for providing an ARC of this moving novel.
    more
  • Victoria
    January 1, 1970
    A tumultuous and heartbreaking story about those who experience life at a heightened level and those of us who care for them while striving to understand.Days after finishing this book I have yet to find adequate words to explain just how moving, painful and real this story feels. How do I capture the enigma that is Lucia Bok, the larger than life and impetuous woman that is the novel’s center point? Or Miranda, the conscientious older sister, torn between family loyalty and the desire to live h A tumultuous and heartbreaking story about those who experience life at a heightened level and those of us who care for them while striving to understand.Days after finishing this book I have yet to find adequate words to explain just how moving, painful and real this story feels. How do I capture the enigma that is Lucia Bok, the larger than life and impetuous woman that is the novel’s center point? Or Miranda, the conscientious older sister, torn between family loyalty and the desire to live her own life. And Yonah, the big-hearted, Russian Israeli-Jew who will bore into your heart and deliver the simplest, yet most poignant lines in the book. They are all a part of the fabric of this story and all stand alone in their telling.The novel spans decades, but never loses momentum and touches on various issues, but mostly it is about ‘…this ruthless illness which hijacks its young sufferers, evicts their souls while blinding them to any cognizance of their own malady…’ And it is in the sensitivity the author brings to depicting mental illness, and the helplessness family members feel in the face of it, that makes this a truly remarkable book.Someday I will tell her about you, she says.What will you say?I will tell her love is everything.She looks at me, then down at her hands. But now, like this, I think love is just (a) romantic way of explaining selflessness.Like this novel, I’ll be thinking about that last line for a very long while. Perceptive, stirring and with moments of such simple beauty, I highly recommend this book.
    more
  • Phrynne
    January 1, 1970
    Firstly I want to say that I listened to this on audio. I think this often affects my opinion because a bad narrator can ruin the best of books. In this particular case the story was told in several character's POVs so the narration was done by a team of readers, different for each character. It worked well.The story takes place in America, in Ecuador and in Switzerland with beautiful descriptions of each. There is a huge amount of information worked into the book about the landscape and the cus Firstly I want to say that I listened to this on audio. I think this often affects my opinion because a bad narrator can ruin the best of books. In this particular case the story was told in several character's POVs so the narration was done by a team of readers, different for each character. It worked well.The story takes place in America, in Ecuador and in Switzerland with beautiful descriptions of each. There is a huge amount of information worked into the book about the landscape and the customs of each of these countries plus lots about the Chinese culture, as our main character and her sister began their lives there.The book revolves around Lucia and through her we meet her sister, her husband, her partner, her daughter and many of her friends and aquaintances. The main thread of the story is Lucia's life long struggle with mental illness and how it affects her life and that of those who love her. It is not a happy or a sad book, just a realistic one which shows how ordinary people carry on day by day.It is a beautifully written book and one which practically turns its own pages as it heads towards its almost inevitable conclusion. I enjoyed it very much.
    more
  • Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
    January 1, 1970
    Has your life, or the life of a loved one or friend ever been touched by mental illness? This is the story of Lucia and her debilitating battle living with mental illness. Difficult, poignant, heartbreaking....I was actually getting quite unexpectedly attached to the characters in this novel. The diversity in cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds that played into this book were refreshing, real and down to Earth. An eye opener in some way, as I am not as familiar with the thematic of mental health Has your life, or the life of a loved one or friend ever been touched by mental illness? This is the story of Lucia and her debilitating battle living with mental illness. Difficult, poignant, heartbreaking....I was actually getting quite unexpectedly attached to the characters in this novel. The diversity in cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds that played into this book were refreshing, real and down to Earth. An eye opener in some way, as I am not as familiar with the thematic of mental health issues and the way different cultures view or treat symptoms thereof. Lucia and her sister Miranda are daughters of Chinese immigrants and with flashbacks in alternate voices, some of their past and upbringing is interjected into the timeline of the plot. We learn that Miranda, the older one of the two has always been the protector, teacher, mother, helping sister etc. for Lucia. With childlike voices we learn of the innocence of Lucia and her immature thought processes until she gets older. At times sporadic and erratic, her actions are defined by voices in her head and her mood. Frequently she disappears for a while to try some new idea or go to a new place that comes to mind. When life gets complicated or conflict arises with stress, she will suffer episodes of highs and debilitating lows. Miranda is not affected by mental illness herself and her life is coming together after college seemingly fine. She finds a good man and moves to Austria. While Lucia’s love life is more turbulent. She falls head over heels in love with an immigrant from Israel and they get married quickly. They live in very tight quarters in his store in NY. But suddenly she has one of her episodes and is hospitalized. Her diagnosis being somewhere between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder she has to keep a strong regimen of meds. Then comes her desire for a baby, but her husband is already done having kids, so Lucia starts going out and eventually disappears. She ends up with a young Latino man, that is new to the US and her wish for a baby comes true. Eventually she has another of her episodes and now her sister and her new Latino boyfriend are trying to help her get back on her feet. But it is rocky…the relationship suffers. At some point Lucia convinces her boyfriend to move to back to the village he came from to raise their daughter. And the seeming beauty of the simplicity of life are a short-term cure. But again, it all comes crashing down for Lucia. ***This is a book about the struggles for all involved parties as well as that of a person suffering from mental illness. It is, in a way, a story that travels beyond the boundaries of countries and time with the consistence of the ever present mental illness that transcends the suffering to no matter where. You cannot outrun it. You cannot completely treat it and you can’t fight it. It is EVER present. Very interestingly and outright bottomless, ruthlessly honest has the portrait of mental illness been described in this story. From those that don’t understand it to those that are worried about a person suffering. It can drive people away and it can tear others apart and down. It seemed far-fetched to me at first that all the characters were immigrants and from different backgrounds. But it made it more evident that people handle things differently. I think it was a great way of showing that. At first I was not sure if I can get through a book like this. I also could not tell you whom I would root for. Because in their own right, each of these characters had redeeming qualities. They all did in a way their best to deal with Lucia and their individual situations or relationship with her. It’s a day by day, or hour by hour or week by week struggle!I thought the book came together very beautiful in a way, with an unexpected ending. The last pages that lead up to the ultimate climax of the story were sweet and heart wrenching. It added the perspective of age and the aging process to it. As Lucia is reflecting on her life and struggles, maturity does catch up with her and for the briefest of moments even her troubles are forgotten…if only for a little while. But this all made this story go so unexpectedly deep. If you can put away any misconception or notion of bias before you read this book and go into it unknowing like I did, you will find yourself touched by these characters till the end. The idea of not finishing this book will dissolve by the time you are a 3rd way in. And the audio version of the book brought different voices and accents of the characters alive beautifully. Unexpectedly captivating.
    more
  • Cathrine ☯️
    January 1, 1970
    4✚ ★Mental illness is getting more press these days and it’s about time. I am full of praise for Mira T. Lee’s debut novel which compassionately and respectfully details a fictional but very realistic alternate reality that many people have no choice in living. Multiple narrative viewpoints illuminate many sides of the suffering and devastation that follow in the wake of full blown mania, its treatment (or lack of) and consequences, as well as the love that comes under assault when the mind betr 4✚ ★Mental illness is getting more press these days and it’s about time. I am full of praise for Mira T. Lee’s debut novel which compassionately and respectfully details a fictional but very realistic alternate reality that many people have no choice in living. Multiple narrative viewpoints illuminate many sides of the suffering and devastation that follow in the wake of full blown mania, its treatment (or lack of) and consequences, as well as the love that comes under assault when the mind betrays someone you hold most dear. How cruel and heartbreaking it is when you can no longer trust in the things or persons you were once so sure of. I know this only too well which is why it didn’t get that fifth star. I was hoping to hear more from Miranda, I needed to hear more from her. Even so, bravos and thank yous for how well she told some of the story. Definitely an author to keep an eye on. “These thoughts went to the surface for years to come, the what-ifs, the whys, fueling her bleakest nightmares, unleashing the guilt and anger for all she had done or not done or tried or not tried or plain never understood––it would take its toll, test their marriage, the inexplicable eruptions, retreats, assignations of blame, minings of pasts and souls in one relentless search for meaning.Forgiveness. That would come much later.”
    more
  • [p]aulie
    January 1, 1970
    3.500 stars - - - somewhat difficult decision to round down it's not a spoiler, promise.(view spoiler)[ leave me alone, everything's fine. (view spoiler)[ what is wrong with me? (view spoiler)[take yr pills. you need yr pills. are you taking yr pills? you have to take yr pills! (view spoiler)[ don't tell me what to do! i hate those f*ing pills!! yes, i took them. (view spoiler)[i promised ma i'd take care of you(view spoiler)[but it's so hard. and what about my life? why won't you...? how com 3.500 stars - - - somewhat difficult decision to round down it's not a spoiler, promise.(view spoiler)[ leave me alone, everything's fine. (view spoiler)[ what is wrong with me? (view spoiler)[take yr pills. you need yr pills. are you taking yr pills? you have to take yr pills! (view spoiler)[ don't tell me what to do! i hate those f*ing pills!! yes, i took them. (view spoiler)[i promised ma i'd take care of you(view spoiler)[but it's so hard. and what about my life? why won't you...? how come...? i know i need to focus on me; she's my sister!(view spoiler)[y've done everything you can. you can't be there all the time for everything. she's sick again? she's sick again!(view spoiler)[she's my wife, but she needs to do this(view spoiler)[perhaps i was selfish, not wanting kids(view spoiler)[traded my soulmate for a child(view spoiler)[things don't turn out okay just because you want them to.(view spoiler)[this is not some fairy tale (mental health is far from it); it is pain. it is beautiful. it is it is it is it isitisitisitisitisiiiiittttttiiiiissssss(view spoiler)[help me(view spoiler)[help me(view spoiler)[help me, please. (hide spoiler)]this is not a fairy tale. with illness, how could it possibly be? i don't have siblings, i can only look at my parents with theirs, my ex-gf's mom with her sister, my cousins. i can know up to a very limited point, but i will never know the universe that is one sibling to another. lucia is sick, cannot help what she does - sometimes it doesn't matter or you forget or you don't care you just get f*ing pissed (i've been on both sides of the fence). lucia was frustrating. miranda was someone i felt for, yet still somehow didn't totally connect with. there'll be plenty of summaries to get the story in various versions of bits and pieces. what made this a three star selection was i did not get verklempt until 9/10ths into the book, and even then it was sporadic (mostly with yonah).is there ever happily ever after, i mean with this? (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]
    more
  • PattyMacDotComma
    January 1, 1970
    3.5★“What if I were to tell you, right now, that you don’t live where you live? That your house isn’t your house. You’d probably laugh and tell me to stop messing around. But then imagine you went home, only to be arrested by the police. The nice people at your address didn’t want to press charges, so the police brought you to the ER, where a doctor insisted you take psychiatric drugs for your ‘delusion’ that you live where you ‘know’ you live. Would you listen? Would you take the meds? Right no 3.5★“What if I were to tell you, right now, that you don’t live where you live? That your house isn’t your house. You’d probably laugh and tell me to stop messing around. But then imagine you went home, only to be arrested by the police. The nice people at your address didn’t want to press charges, so the police brought you to the ER, where a doctor insisted you take psychiatric drugs for your ‘delusion’ that you live where you ‘know’ you live. Would you listen? Would you take the meds? Right now? . . . Of course not. Because you know who you are and where you live. . . But so does someone with a psychotic delusion. It’s that real.” Nurse Bob explains her younger sister Lucia’s condition to Miranda (Jie) after Lucia has a breakdown but doesn’t want to take any medication. Why should she? She’s fine.Background - the girls’ mother left China holding Jie by the hand and with baby sister safe in her belly, as they are fond of repeating. Ma said Ba had died in a car accident, and Ma was an abiding force in the girls’ life as they grew up in the US. I always think of the eldest as Jie, not Miranda.The sisters laughed together when reminiscing in that uncontrolled, exuberant way that many siblings are surprised to find themselves being a part of. Laughing until you cry and fall on the floor. It seems to be something that happens with people you’ve known since you were children.Jie is always the big sister, while Lucia is the arty free spirit. Jie studies and finds a serious job, while she describes Lucia’s youth this way.“She found her wanderlust, too, forgoing the air-conditioned offices and suits our mother and I were both familiar with to teach English in Ecuador, tutor in Brazil, volunteer at an orphanage in Bolivia. In her early twenties, she worked as a travel writer in Latin America for a small start-up firm, before returning to study journalism. She wrote feature articles now for a newspaper in Queens—the next best thing, I suppose, as there she was friendly with halal butchers, Egyptian barbers, Salvadoran cooks and the old Chinese grocers who sold dog penises and exotic mushrooms for six hundred dollars a pound.”Adventurous? Yes. Crazy? No. When she comes back and lives in New York, Lucia falls in love with a one-armed Russian Jew, Yonah, and they decide to marry.“They married quickly, in City Hall. Lucia wore a sparkly tank top with pink bicycle pants, silver hoop earrings. She beamed, like a bride.”Quirky? Yes. Crazy? Not necessarily. We see the sisters go their different directions in lifestyle, partners, and eventually, the countries where they live. When Lucia presents with some problems that are beyond quirkiness or whim, Jie is told by doctors that her younger sister has 'insight'. Well, that’s fine, but in this case, that’s not helpful. The first quotation was an explanation of Lucia’s condition. “Anosognosia. Impaired awareness of illness, also termed 'lack of insight'. Some part of the brain, anatomically damaged, such that it could no longer recognize its own malfunctioning.”So they can’t trust that Lucia’s 'insight' will allow her to understand something intellectually if it doesn’t feel right. But Lucia has always paid attention to her mother and then her big sister, although sometimes reluctantly and grudgingly. The people who love Lucia learn to keep Jie’s contact details handy, and Jie is repeatedly called upon to intervene, face her sister, try to help her, and all the while, live her own life geographically far away. It’s a strong story about love and duty. How much do we owe our family and those we love? Who ya gonna call? as the old Ghostbusters’ slogan went. This is mostly Lucia’s story, while Jie figures in mostly in her relation to Lucia’s life.Different sections and chapters are told either about or by the sisters or their partners, so we get a pretty good all-round view of the situation. There are no easy answers, but there are some very happy times, in spite of the devastation caused by Lucia’s lapses that necessitate Jie’s emergency dashes around the world to help.This is a story of the frustration both the “patient” and the family feel when a condition like this takes over, and I have no doubt it will ring true to those who have lived with it. But it’s more than a medical history of a patient, it’s a family story that goes beyond the sister and into the stories of those around them.There were a lot of things that I found a bit far-fetched. (view spoiler)[For one thing, I know Lucia had spent time in South America and in Ecuador specifically as a young woman, but by the time she moved with Manny and had a baby, I didn’t think it likely that she would put up with the living conditions in the hut, let alone raise a baby there. Maybe for a few months, but not a few years. And I thought the sub-plot with Susi kept edging into the picture and would then disappear. Either more could have been done with it, or let it go when she left NY. (hide spoiler)] For the most part, I enjoyed Lee’s writing and characters, and I can see why this has a lot of fans.
    more
  • Kelli
    January 1, 1970
    Everything here is beautiful: the story, the characters, the relationships, the struggles, the dreams, the losses, the love, and the honesty. This story’s honest treatment of mental illness (and its far-reaching impact) is a staggering accomplishment. This is a raw, real exploration of the extreme/overwhelming/haunting daily guilt that those of us who love a person afflicted with schizophrenia live with every day. It also presents the illness from the perspective of its victim, which is, frankly Everything here is beautiful: the story, the characters, the relationships, the struggles, the dreams, the losses, the love, and the honesty. This story’s honest treatment of mental illness (and its far-reaching impact) is a staggering accomplishment. This is a raw, real exploration of the extreme/overwhelming/haunting daily guilt that those of us who love a person afflicted with schizophrenia live with every day. It also presents the illness from the perspective of its victim, which is, frankly, genius. Enough great reviews exist for this book already. A difficult read that will not be for everyone, this both broke my heart and comforted it. There is truth in these pages. 5 stars
    more
  • Suzanne
    January 1, 1970
    Probably 3.5 rounded up. What amazing narration, the cast involved were an amazing combined production. The character of a mentally ill woman listening to the voices in her head, in the form of serpents, was particularly amazing - I was scared! This was a heavy read, I seem to find it very hard to choose appropriate audio reads as I only like to listen to books that already exist on my list. I need to get through my list, not add more!Two sisters, bound by love and necessity. The youngest, Lucia Probably 3.5 rounded up. What amazing narration, the cast involved were an amazing combined production. The character of a mentally ill woman listening to the voices in her head, in the form of serpents, was particularly amazing - I was scared! This was a heavy read, I seem to find it very hard to choose appropriate audio reads as I only like to listen to books that already exist on my list. I need to get through my list, not add more!Two sisters, bound by love and necessity. The youngest, Lucia, is mentally unwell, she has extreme, episodes but when she is not ok, her big sister will always be there for her. Miranda knows Lucia is self aware, she is articulate and knows about her illness. Lucia is flighty, passionate and extremely talented, this always ends up with everyone knowing her, wherever she goes in the world. And around the world she does go.Relationships are handled here with care, Mira T. Lee has created amazing characters in her debut novel, she does not appear to be 'new' in anyway. Recommended if you like a serious, literary read. I have rated at 3.5 as the content is too serious for me. This author is very skilled, and one to be looked at again.
    more
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    At first, I thought this was going to be an immigrant novel, and it kind of is, but that's more of a background element. Lucy/Lucia moves with her single Chinese pregnant mother to the United States as a young girl. But the story quickly jumps to her adolescence and her first mental disorders surfacing and requiring hospitalization. Her sister tries to help, and the sister relationship is a thread throughout the novel. What if your sister was the only person who knew your medical secrets but liv At first, I thought this was going to be an immigrant novel, and it kind of is, but that's more of a background element. Lucy/Lucia moves with her single Chinese pregnant mother to the United States as a young girl. But the story quickly jumps to her adolescence and her first mental disorders surfacing and requiring hospitalization. Her sister tries to help, and the sister relationship is a thread throughout the novel. What if your sister was the only person who knew your medical secrets but lives far away with her own life?I feel like the author did an interesting thing here. The point of view changes so sometimes the pov is from Lucia, sometimes when she is lucid, but also when she isn't. And the moments that really stuck out to me were those where I was seeing the world from her perspective and her decisions seemed valid, and then it switches to an outsider and you realize that she is acting paranoid, delusional, potentially harmful to her child. It was quite the reminder that for a person suffering from mental illness, it's not that easy for them to see what others see, or to fully understand they need help or medication. I thought it was very effective.Lucy's second husband is Manny, an undocumented Ecuadorian, and along the way I realized that there are no white people in this novel, pretty awesome. Lucy had spent time in Latin America and at one point they move back there with their child, and I thought that was an unfairly challenging environment for her mental health but adds another interesting twist to the story.Thanks to the publisher for approving my request in NetGalley. This book comes out January 16th, 2018.
    more
  • Bernadette
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! 5 Stars for Mira Lee’s beautifully written novel that chronicles the life of Lucia, a woman living with mental illness. Her story is told from her point of view as well as by those who love her, her sister Miranda, husband Yonah and partner Manny. Lee artfully captures the profound impact of mental illness on Lucia and these characters. This was not an easy book to read, it’s sad and haunting yet there are glimmers of hope and beauty. Lee skillfully describes the symptoms of Lucia’s disease Wow! 5 Stars for Mira Lee’s beautifully written novel that chronicles the life of Lucia, a woman living with mental illness. Her story is told from her point of view as well as by those who love her, her sister Miranda, husband Yonah and partner Manny. Lee artfully captures the profound impact of mental illness on Lucia and these characters. This was not an easy book to read, it’s sad and haunting yet there are glimmers of hope and beauty. Lee skillfully describes the symptoms of Lucia’s disease. This may be the best representation of mental illness that I’ve read in fiction. It’s hard for me to believe that this is a debut novel, Lee is an immensely talented author and I can’t wait for more from her.
    more
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    As I take stock of my reactions to this book, I realize that I have to upgrade from four to five stars. Because this book changed my perceptions and forced me to reevaluate what I thought I knew. Before reading this, I wouldn’t have said that I had any preconceived notions about mental illness, but I guess I’ve learned something new about myself as well. Everything Here is Beautiful explores the relationships between a mentally ill person and the people closest to them. How far does the responsi As I take stock of my reactions to this book, I realize that I have to upgrade from four to five stars. Because this book changed my perceptions and forced me to reevaluate what I thought I knew. Before reading this, I wouldn’t have said that I had any preconceived notions about mental illness, but I guess I’ve learned something new about myself as well. Everything Here is Beautiful explores the relationships between a mentally ill person and the people closest to them. How far does the responsibility extend when you’ve reached the absolute limit of what you can do to help someone you love? How much of your own life can you or should you sacrifice for them? Lucy’s people, bound together by burden and love, must learn time and time again that they cannot save her when her own brain has turned against her. But they keep trying. “--this ruthless illness which hijacks its young sufferers, evicts their souls while blinding them to any cognizance of their own malady…”Beyond that, this story emphasizes that a healthy Lucy is capable of great selflessness, generosity, and love. Her life is not a tragedy when you consider the sacrifices she makes, the ways she helps others, and most importantly, her daughter. I prefer to think of these accomplishments as her legacy, built and re-built while continually fleeing from the monster inside her head. ”But now, like this, I think love is just a romantic way of explaining selflessness.”It’s painful and raw, but also honest and enlightening. It would be easy to read this book and consider Lucia’s a sad existence, but don’t let that be the lesson you take from this book. If you read this, I hope that you can see Lucia as brightly and vibrantly as I did, despite her darker moments.
    more
  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    Like the gorgeous butterfly on the cover, this book represents a solid and successful evolution from concept through to final execution.This novel manages to explore themes of serious mental illness, and its impact on individual and family lives, without either sacrificing complexity or resorting to sentimentality. Protagonist Lucia is portrayed respectfully in her full humanness; while the challenges of her mental health are plainly portrayed, she's also represented as intelligent, accomplished Like the gorgeous butterfly on the cover, this book represents a solid and successful evolution from concept through to final execution.This novel manages to explore themes of serious mental illness, and its impact on individual and family lives, without either sacrificing complexity or resorting to sentimentality. Protagonist Lucia is portrayed respectfully in her full humanness; while the challenges of her mental health are plainly portrayed, she's also represented as intelligent, accomplished, in many ways and often very high-functioning: far more than merely her mental illness. At the same time, the novel makes clear the challenges of medication compliance, the moving target of optimal stability, and the subtle and often seductive slipperiness of cyclic escalation or descent into episodes of mania, paranoia, delusion, or depression. The book lays bare the pain of being denied the easy opportunity of stability, and of loving others who are.There were a few difficult to quantify factors that, for me, kept this book from launching into full-blown five-star territory - perhaps I would have liked a little less about Lucia's partner Manuel and more about Lucia's sister, who (despite the book's being billed as a story of two sisters) is relegated somewhat to a marginal emergency caretaking role. How is she affected by Lucia's illness between bouts of that illness flaring up? How is/was their relationship outside of crisis? But in all, the many different scenes and settings, from Greenwich Village to Ecuador, and the vibrant secondary characters (especially Lucia's first husband and daughter, and the friends she makes while hospitalized) are so vividly and richly portrayed.This is, again, a completely solid and readable book, with a worthy theme, and somehow enjoyable despite the potential for bleakness. This is one of those very rare reads that I'd probably feel pretty comfortable recommending to anyone.
    more
Write a review