Mira Lee: Everything Here is Beautiful

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. 

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.

“‘It’s weird. In all these years, no one’s ever told me I suffered from cancer. I’m a fighter, A survivor, you know.’ … It occurs to me that no condition covered in the DSM-IV is ever followed by the word ‘survivor,’ but I don’t mention this.”

I don’t typically start my reviews with a quote, but this one just keeps repeating itself over and over in my head. Mental illness is just as much all consuming as a cancer, but we don’t praise those who are surviving it every day or call them heroes. Instead we fear and scorn them, run from them and tear them down.

Everything Here is Beautiful takes us through the life of someone with a severe mental illness–a blend of bipolar and schizophrenic disorders that allow her to be high functioning and full of life for years…until she has to yield to her disease. We also get to see the perspectives of several people who love her, and through their eyes we understand how mental illness doesn’t just affect the life of the person who is sick, but those close to them as well.

Everything here really is beautiful in Everything Here is Beautiful. There’s so much love in this book. Don’t get me wrong–there are parts of this story that are very painful to read–Lucia’s life is a difficult and tragic one, as too many mentally ill people’s are. But there are a lot of positive lessons here too–about support systems, about the value of steady therapy and pharmaceutical assistance.

The writing is spectacular, every single POV was magnificent–though I will fully admit to being 100% partial to Yonah. Can I please have a spin off story about his life, because I need it. Seriously though, I can find zero fault here. Everything Here is Beautiful is a magnificent book showing not only the tragedies and pitfalls of mental illness, but also the uniquely wonderous perspective that those who live with it experience.

Pamela Dorman Books and NetGalley provided an ARC for unbiased review. This post contains affiliate links.

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