Review of Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

Published: 31st May 2016
Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper – the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic – the rebel within Nanette awakens.As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.


Thank you to Headline for kindly sending me a review copy.

Nanette is the captain of the school’s soccer team, the leader scorer, a bookworm and she’s the girl who kissed her favourite teacher. The narrative opens with an exchange of a book, a coffee house meeting and the important decision on what to do with your life. Instantly, the novel became powerful with a lot of food for thought for both Nanette and the readers. At the beginning, I had no idea of where the plot would go and I really liked that.

“He saw what was coming before I did, because he was an adult and I was still a kid.”
When Nanette and Alex meet, I didn’t sense any chemistry between the two. They were from different world yet they had come together through their obsession for a book. A book which allowed the pair to team up with Oliver and find a woman who may be the one for the author. As the plot delved into political conversation about the US, I thought I would loose interest but with Matthew Quick’s captivating characters, I wasn’t going anywhere. It was such an in depth narrative consisting of themes such as family struggles, separation, alcohol addiction, bullying, violence, first love, friendship, adventure, sacrifice and hope.
“Don’t take this the wrong way, but your talking in third person is positively unnerving. It’s like a punishment for the rest of the world.”
With Alex away in a prison for young offenders, Nanette tries to get on with her life but when he visits on Christmas Day, everything takes a back seat and she is left feeling anxious and scared. The way in which Matthew wrote the death in the book (I won’t say who, obviously) took me by surprise, not because I didn’t expect it but for the simple reason that the person delivering the news just didn’t seem to care. The emotional wasn’t there and I felt like a great character didn’t receive the send off they deserved.
“Sometimes you just have to pick a direction and make mistakes. Then you use what you learn from your failure to pick new, better directions so you can make more mistakes and keep learning.”
Like every Matthew Quick book, there is a powerful message behind the plot and in terms of Every Exquisite Thing, it was about how you are the captain of your own journey, you don’t have to make a decision right now which will determine in the rest of your life, it will determine the next few moments or so. You don’t have to follow society’s rules or pressure from family/friends. I really liked how Nanette transitioned from a popular soccer high school player to a girl who had been through an awful lot in the space of a year yet finishing at her graduation still unaware of what she wants to do. Matthew’s message was powerful and I really respect the idea he was so clearly trying to put across to readers both old and young. Another superb YA novel to add to his collection.