Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell was a quick, semi-thoughtful, read…a perfect book for those summertime lazy days.
Riley’s mom passed away a few years ago from cancer. She and her dad moved to a new town, and not too long after he found Jesus started “seriously” seeing a new woman. The new woman decides (and convinces her dad of the same) that while they go on vacation, Riley should attend Sprit Ranch, a Christian camp—to help Riley find God and straighten out her smart mouth ways.
Naturally, Riley arrives at Spirit Ranch completely hostile and ready to mouth off to every Jesus-loving-freak that attends this ridiculous camp. So, of course, everybody is immediately put off by this chubby violet-haired pessimistic girl and starts with the fat jokes, doing everything possible to exclude her from camp games.
Dylan is back at Sprit Ranch, but this summer is different. Now Dylan is in a wheelchair, legs paralyzed. No longer the hunky athlete he once was, everyone treats him differently too, not knowing exactly how to interact with him any longer. Likewise, Dylan now treats life, and everyone in it, like an inconvenience and a waste of time.
Will Riley and Dylan find camaraderie in each other, being the camp outcasts? Or are both too pissed at life to even try to be anything other than bitter and cynical?
This short, summer read was semi-insightful and thought provoking. While it wasn’t one of those novels that left you thinking about some deep profound message for days afterward, it definitely made me at least go, “hmmm.” It definitely reminds you that regardless of the situation you are entering in, if you go into it with your walls up, people are less likely to befriend you. As scary as it is and as vulnerable as it can make you feel, sometimes you have to lower the barriers just a little bit in order to gain something pretty fantastic in return.
Three out of five stars.