Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined – Danielle Younge-Ullman


 Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined – Danielle Younge-Ullman, Viking, 9780425287590, 2017

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

What did you like about the book? This story follows Ingrid: daughter of former (now injured and out of work) opera star Margot-Sophia.  In alternating chapters we follow Ingrid through a very intense Wilderness Survival 3-week misadventure (one she is ill-prepared for but determined to complete as part of her mother’s “condition” for being allowed to attend musical school in London next year) and chapters from her past leading up to the rough trip meant for “troubled teens”.  The style is incredibly compelling and Ingrid’s voice is funny, engaging and draws the reader right in as we slowly learn not only why Ingrid is AT this disaster of a camp experience but also who she is.  It’s a bit survival story, a bit YA high school life/drama, it’s a bit of dealing with a parent with depression, it’s a bit Troubled Teens on a Wild Rompus Trip, and it’s a bit romantic and thoughtful.  The writing is often simple but at other times very gorgeous and worth lingering over a bit.

Anything you didn’t like about it? It may not be until after you finish but at some point you’ll realize that despite how real and fleshed out Ingrid becomes, most of the secondary characters are TRULY secondary (to Ingrid’s life but also her story…they are not well fleshed out and some of the fellow Wilderness campers are very much just flat caricatures of “diversity units” without much of their own story to develop.  Part of this is good as it makes the story very much centered around Ingrid and easy to follow/read quickly; but again when you delve deeper there’s not much to dig into for anyone else).

To whom would you recommend this book?  (Read-alikes if you can think of them) Great for readers who like good “road trip” books; particularly with some good bits of “roughing it”; this is a “Learn about yourself and where you fit into the world/your life” story with hiking and well-done flash-backs that are short enough that readers who really loved the survival portions of more dystopian futures style books could also enjoy the story.  Touches on a lot of topics that could make it good for a book club.

Who should buy this book? High schools, Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it? YA Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: April Duclos, Hudson Public Library, Hudson MA

Date of review: 4/8/17

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