I took enough creative writing classes in college to know…
In Every Exquisite Thing, star athlete and parent pleaser Nanette O’Hare is just going through the motions. She’s not happy playing sports. She’s not happy in school. She just exists, until her favorite teacher gives her a copy of an out-of-print cult classic called Bubblegum Reaper that ends in a mysterious, much-debated way. The book opens something in Nanette and she soon meets the author and he introduces her to another teen fan, Alex, who also feels like he’s just going through the motions.
I really didn’t like this book right from the beginning, in big part to the mundane Bubblegum Reaper. We’re given a summary of the book, and I see nothing in it that is eye opening or awe inspiring or inspirational. I suppose this book is supposed to show Nanette that she lives in her own sort of bubble, but it wasn’t pulled off very well.
And then there was the author introducing Alex to Nanette. Alex puts his emotions into poetry and for some reason the author, who doesn’t know Nanette well, tries to hook Nanette and Alex up. Um, okay. It seemed a little gross, actually, but I went with it and found I liked some of the poetry that Alex wrote, until the idiotic way his poetry is used. I don’t want to say more or I’ll ruin a big part of the book, but Nanette discovers something about Alex by reading one of his poems and there’s no possible way this poem is really connected to what happened. We’re supposed to think it is, that her discovering this is a big ah-ha moment, but it’s so moronic.
I love that Matthew Quick gives us characters that are going through something, and he did it wonderfully with Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, a book I recommend to everyone, but I don’t know what happened here. The character development is lacking, the connection between characters is weak, and it was more frustrating than anything.