Read Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee Online


Two sisters: Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister's protector; Lucia, the vibrant, headstrong, unconventional one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts to hear voices, it's Miranda who must fight for the help her sister needs — even as Lucia refuses to be defined by any doctor's diagnosis. DeteTwo sisters: Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister's protector; Lucia, the vibrant, headstrong, unconventional one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When their mother dies and Lucia starts to hear voices, it's Miranda who must fight for the help her sister needs — even as Lucia refuses to be defined by any doctor's diagnosis. Determined, impetuous, she plows ahead, marrying a big-hearted Israeli only to leave him, suddenly, to have a baby with a young Latino immigrant. She will move with her new family to Ecuador, but the bitter constant remains: she cannot escape her own mental illness. Lucia lives life on a grand scale, until inevitably, she crashes to earth. And then Miranda must decide, again, whether or not to step in — but this time, Lucia may not want to be saved. The bonds of sisterly devotion stretch across oceans, but what does it take to break them?Told from alternating perspectives, Everything Here Is Beautiful is, at its core, a heart-wrenching family drama about relationships and tough choices — how much we're willing to sacrifice for the ones we love, and when it's time to let go and save ourselves....

Title : Everything Here Is Beautiful
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780735221963
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Everything Here Is Beautiful Reviews

  • Emily May
    2018-10-28 18:40

    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

  • Jen
    2018-11-02 19:34

    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.

  • Elyse
    2018-11-03 20:17

    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!!!!

  • Crumb
    2018-10-25 16:22

    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!

  • Angela M
    2018-10-18 22:22

    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.

  • Mary Beth
    2018-11-03 18:26

    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.

  • Karen G
    2018-10-30 16:25

    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

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    2018-11-08 17:12

    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.

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-11-11 22:16

    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.

  • Larry H
    2018-11-11 18:29

    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, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at

  • Julie
    2018-11-14 21:42

    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.

  • Theresa Alan
    2018-11-18 15:21

    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:

  • Hannah
    2018-11-07 23:37

    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.

  • Dorie
    2018-10-21 22:36

    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.

  • Susanne Strong
    2018-11-17 21:21

    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.

  • JanB
    2018-11-10 22:20

    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.

  • Marialyce
    2018-11-07 16:27

    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.

  • Cathrine ☯️
    2018-11-13 18:33

    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.”

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2018-11-17 18:34

    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.

  • paulie
    2018-10-29 20:17

    3.500 stars - - - somewhat difficult decision to round downit'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)]

  • Liz
    2018-10-24 17:32

    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.

  • Jenna
    2018-11-07 17:31

    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.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2018-11-09 22:39

    Lucia Bok has been many people: a globe-trotting Chinese-American journalist, a health food store owner’s wife in New York City, an illegal immigrant’s girlfriend, and a pioneer mother in fairly primitive conditions in Ecuador. Her schizophrenia means that she throws herself wholeheartedly into every role but at some point, as her mind turns against her, finds herself unable to cope. We hear from Lucia herself as well as her big sister Miranda, her ex-husband Yonah, and her boyfriend Manny – in both first-person and third-person passages – over the course of perhaps 25 years to get an intimate picture of how mental illness strains families and how blame gets parceled out.Lucia’s first-person narration was most effective for me: “When Esperanza was born, a pair of serpents lived inside my head. Their job was to warn me of the dangers of motherhood, which boiled down to this: If you touch your baby, she will die. … I take only one kind of medication now. They adjust the dosage. Sometimes I still slosh around, dense and slushy like a watermelon; other times I’m flat, defizzed.”The book has a wide span geographically and chronologically, going from New York to Switzerland to Ecuador to Minnesota. At times I asked myself why; could the same story, condensed into one location and a shorter time span, have been more powerful? But in that it presents the sweep of a life and the cycle of taking pills, going off the pills, and things going wrong, this format works. I was reminded of The Immortalists and The Border of Paradise.

    2018-11-06 18:24

    This book clarifies the harsh realities of a people living with mental illness. The main character Lucia suffers from schizoaffective disorder and possible bipolar disease with psychotic features. If she doesn't take her pills, she becomes a very frightening person to live with; harmful both to herself and others. For such people, it is very important to avoid stressful environments and get proper sleep. Above all else, they must take their medication and have periodic appointments with a psych doctor to maintain their condition. This is a genetic disease. People are born with it and cannot help it. Of course, navigating the disease is a nightmare that their family and loved ones endure.This is a story of two sisters of Chinese descent who emigrated to the US with their mother. The younger one, Lucia, was a few months away from being born. The elder sister is Miranda. The mother bravely emigrated in her very pregnant state, along with daughter Miranda, leaving an unhappy marriage behind which ended in her husband's death. With the mother's strength and determination, she obtains an educational degree to attain employment that provides a good home for herself and her daughters. When the sisters are older and making their own way in the world, the mother is battling cancer. During Mom's years fighting cancer, Lucia experiences her first crisis with mental illness. In Miranda's role as older sister, just as she watched over Lucia when Mom was working or going to school, she continues in that role after Mom dies. As the sisters' pathways in life shoot in wildly different directions, Miranda is always a phone call away when Lucia is in mental crisis. Miranda has all the pamphlets about her sister's disease, the medication list, and a fierce determination to look out for Lucia's best interests. Mental illness aside, Lucia is a personality who takes chances, travels broadly, and is well-liked due to her non-judgemental nature. She is a the wild child in contrast with her more strait-laced and "adult-like" sister. Miranda often wonders where Lucia's personality ends and the illness begins. There are also two wonderful characters in the book, Israeli born Yonah and Ecuadorian illegal immigrant Manny. Both are love interests of Lucia's and have their own endearing and admirable qualities. My biggest takeaways from this book were regarding the topics of mental illness and illegal immigration. The author provided much thought-provoking insight to these very serious issues.Thank you to publisher Viking/Dorman who provided an advance reader copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

  • Rachel
    2018-10-20 20:29

    Everything Here is Beautiful is a quiet and thoughtful book about mental illness and the toll it takes on the relationship between two Chinese-American sisters. Miranda is the older, responsible one, who's spent her life looking after her younger sister, Lucia, impetuous and free-spirited. Throughout her adult life, Lucia grapples with an undefined mental illness (doctors are unable to determine if it's schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or something in between), and Miranda struggles with the guilt of never being able to help her sister quite enough.What's particularly striking about this book is how Mira T. Lee balances an array of perspectives, which serves to challenge the reader's perception on a single issue. We flit back and forth between Miranda, Lucia, Manuel (Lucia's young Ecuadorian lover), and Yonah (Lucia's husband), and we stay in each of their heads long enough that they genuinely feel like real people, each with their own strengths and biases and shortcomings. We hear from Lucia both when she's lucid and when she's wrestling with what she refers to as the 'serpents' in her mind, which provides us with a hard-hitting and candid exploration of how 'real' Lucia's paranoia and delusions feel to her. Lee also highlights the sad truth that there are often no easy answers when it comes to addressing severe mental illness - at different times in her life Lucia tries medication and hospitalization, and while I'm happy to say that this is not a narrative that maligns medication in any way (it's ultimately a rather pro-meds message), the reality of medicating doesn't provide Lucia with a simple solution, which is often the case. It's an important narrative that I think will resonate with anyone who's grappled with mental illness at some point, and I'm hoping that books like this and Chemistry will succeed in starting some conversations about the stigma surrounding mental health in our society.But back to the narrative - I do have a few complaints. (1) It was too long by about a hundred pages. The plot stalled at about a third of the way through, and though the pace eventually rectified itself, there was still a lot of filler. I was initially sure I was going to breeze through this book, but for a while there in the middle picking it up was kind of a drag. (2) I'm not a fan of first and third person being used together in novels. I've seen it done well (e.g., Burial Rites by Hannah Kent) but for the most part it doesn't work for me. Here it felt arbitrary and stylistic. The effect Lee created with the multiple POVs could have been easily achieved with exclusively either first or third person. (3) The timeline was occasionally unclear - there would be big time jumps between two chapters with hardly any indication. But all that said, I mostly really loved this. Everything Here is Beautiful is a powerful and moving novel. Mira T. Lee comes out of the gate strong with this debut, taking on issues of mental health, immigration, familial duty, motherhood, and national and cultural identity. I'd highly recommend this to fans of Celeste Ng, Min Jin Lee, and/or Weike Wang.Thank you to First to Read and Mira T. Lee for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Everything Here is Beautiful will be published on January 16, 2018.

  • Bkwmlee
    2018-11-05 16:25

    Two weeks into the new year, I’ve come across my first 5 star read -- Mira T. Lee’s incredible debut novel Everything Here is Beautiful. At its core, this beautifully written story is about two sisters who, after losing their father at a young age, are brought to the U.S. by their widowed mother, a strong woman determined to give her children the best life possible. As the older sister, Miranda is the responsible one, the one who always took care of things, fixed things whenever they went wrong, and constantly played the role of protector for her vibrant yet extremely headstrong younger sister Lucia. After their mother dies, the bond between these 2 sisters grows even stronger as they rely on and support one another through life’s good moments as well as the bad. When Lucia is diagnosed with a debilitating mental illness, Miranda dedicates herself to helping her sister live a normal life, fighting to get her the treatment she desperately needs, the constant driving force who steps in time and time again, regardless of distance, to put her sister back on the right track. Over the years though, their relationship becomes strained as Lucia refuses to let her illness define her and instead chooses to live her life as she pleases, letting her impulses guide her. As Miranda and Lucia embark on their separate life journeys, their sisterly bond, once so strong, is repeatedly put to the test, with each incident, each confrontation, escalating in intensity, emotion, heartache – as things reach breaking point, they are forced to reconsider how much they are willing to sacrifice for the ones they love versus learning to finally let go and live their own lives. There were so many things I loved about this book! It wasn’t an easy read by any means, as the story itself was heart-wrenching, with the chronicling of multiple lives impacted by the complexities of mental illness. I don’t have much experience dealing with mental illness so I can’t speak to how realistically it was portrayed in this story, but it absolutely felt so real to me and on an emotional level, the story moved me deeply. I felt for all of the characters, really connected with them and grew to love them despite their many flaws and in the end, I didn’t want to let them go. With each character, I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride –rejoicing with them during the small successes, feeling saddened and heartbroken when things took a turn for the worse, feeling frustrated and angered when their actions were self-destructive or hurtful to others, yet couldn't help smiling during the many tender moments. There was also the humor, infused so wonderfully and perfectly throughout the story, in such a way as to make some of the sadness more bearable, yet without making light of the seriousness of mental illness and its impact on each of the characters. I especially loved all the “aiya” moments and yes, my favorite character was Yonah, who made me laugh so wholeheartedly one minute yet cry buckets and buckets of tears the next minute – my favorite chapters were those narrated by him and when I had gotten to the end of that section, I felt grateful to the author for giving such a wonderfully endearing character the chance to tell his story in his own voice. I felt that the emotion throughout the book was very raw and so very real, which in large part contributed to what made this story so powerful yet also beautiful at the same time.In terms of the narration, this one alternated between first person and third person, with each chapter told from the perspective of one of the many characters who were part of Lucia’s life or were affected in some way by her actions, her illness. I’ve seen other authors use a similar format (alternating between first and third person), yet this one stood out in the way that it was able to seamlessly transition between perspectives, almost to perfection, resulting in a narrative that was richer and fuller but didn’t detract at all from the power of the story and the many emotions it elicited. I loved how the author Mira T. Lee was able to give each of the characters their own voice and do it so well! Once again, I am blown away by the fact that this is a debut novel, one written with such skill that it really speaks to the talent of the author.This beautiful story is one that will stay with me for a long time, its characters now among my favorites. Needless to say, this one comes highly recommended and absolutely should not be missed! Everything here is indeed beautiful!Received ARC from Pamela Dorman Books / Viking via Edelweiss

  • Myrna
    2018-10-24 23:26

    A remarkable debut of two sisters (one with an illness) and their emotional journey of sacrifice, love, and heartache. Alternating between several perspectives, Everything Here Is Beautiful is a storytelling masterpiece. Every chapter engages you and the characters are unforgettable. Highly recommend the audio. 4.75★s rounded up to 5★s!

  • Wen
    2018-10-25 17:16

    This was a poignant, exquisite, and almost epic story. It kept me emotionally engaged, and the ending lingered in my mind for hours after I finished the book. Only the execution and the structure kept me from giving it a higher rating. The story revolved around a free-spirited and mentally ill second-generation Chinese immigrant Lucia; I followed her life journey, from her childhood in her New Jersey family house, her brief married life in New York city, her becoming a mother in Westchester, her life with her boyfriend’s family in Ecuador, all the way to her return to the U.S. I watched Lucia triumph over her mental illness to live an unrestrained life. I witnessed the evolvement of her relationships, for the better or worse, with those who loved her and who she loved—mainly her sister Maranda, Jewish husband Yonah, Latino boyfriend Manny, and daughter Essy. Ultimately the story was about the main characters struggling to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones. I took away from the story that life is but a collection of gives and takes; love could only be perfect and unconditional if it existed in a vacuum; sometimes the decision to act or not to act would both lead to guilt and regret. I could easily sympathize with Lucia and Maranda, And yet to me Manny was the best-developed and most believable character. Yonah felt too good to be true, so was the undying love between him and Lucia given their sharply contrasting education and background. The retelling of the same events by a different person, a prominent structural highlight of the book, seemed to have added little extra insight to me, and only to prolong the book in a redundant way and disrupt the flow of the storyline. In particular, Lucia’s transition from third-person to first-person narrative at the start of Part Two was so abrupt, enough to have me disoriented.Also I felt the ending would have been more beautiful without the epilogue. This was, after all, the author’s debut novel. It’d be a good pick for a book club discussion.

  • Celeste Ng
    2018-11-09 18:33

    EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL is a tender but unflinching portrayal of the bond between two sisters--one that's frayed by mental illness and stretched across continents, yet still endures. With ventriloquistic skill, Mira T. Lee explores the heartache of loving someone deeply troubled and the unbearable tightrope-walk between holding on and letting go.

  • Jessica
    2018-10-28 16:22

    "I don’t want to suffer. I want to live."A story like this–about a schizophrenic young woman–could be ripe for emotionally manipulative storytelling, but I have so much respect for Mira T. Lee for writing it in a thoughtful, engaging, empathetic way. It’s clear that she has taken great pains to write about what it’s really like to have schizophrenia, as opposed to using it as a catch-all term to just mean “crazy” in the vaguest sense, which is something that has always made me, well, crazy. This is the story of two sisters–Miranda and Lucia–born to Chinese immigrants and raised in the U.S. Miranda was always calm and rational, dealing with things after their parents died. She’s also taken it upon herself to take care of Lucia, whose erratic behavior has often been a source of concern. Lucia’s long been diagnosed before the novel really begins, and Miranda has been her sister’s biggest advocate. But Lucia’s married now, to an Israeli immigrant named Yonah, and Miranda can only watch as he decides that Lucia doesn’t need to be hospitalized any more. That’s when the reader sees what it’s really like to live with schizophrenia, both as the schizophrenic and the person who loves her. Lucia eventually makes the somewhat rash decision to leave Yonah and have a baby with Manuel, an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. It’s the first of many rash decisions she makes as she experiences the ups and downs of her disease. Eventually, Miranda moves to Europe with her new boyfriend and has to decide how much longer she can continue to act as her sister’s advocate. This book is just absolutely heartbreaking, from start to finish, but it never feels unearned. It’s impossible not to feel for Lucia or Miranda, two women who are both struggling with two different sides of the same coin. I love how the book describes events from both of their points of view, so you can see what schizophrenia feels like from both the inside and outside. Lee also weaves in the points of view of Yonah and Manuel, which could have easily made it feel cluttered, but she does so to great effect. It demonstrates how difficult it can be to love someone with a severe psychological disorder, how hard it is to understand and manage, no matter how much you try and how well-intentioned you are. Overall, this was a thoughtful exploration of mental illness and how hard it can be to separate a person from their disease. It’s beautifully written, with complex and empathetic characters, and I can’t recommend it enough.