April 7, 2009

Book Review: Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center

Posted in Book Reviews tagged , , , , , at 12:18 am by The Word Jar

Everyone is BeautifulAs if being the harried mother of three young boys wasn’t enough, Lanie had to pack up her life and move halfway across the country for her husband’s career. She’s left behind her mother—her only lifeline—and every park she and the boys had ever known. At this point in her life, she is wearing her husband’s clothes, she’s mistaken as a pregnant woman, and her new (and young, of course) landlord has already seen her naked. And that’s just the beginning of Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center.

A wonderful addition to the mom lit genre, Everyone is Beautiful follows Lanie, a devoted if not outnumbered and defeated mother of three, as she tries to regain her “self.” This quick and easy read manages to address the very real issue of moms who give practically everything over to the people in their lives—kids, husbands, friends—leaving nothing for themselves.

Center has a good eye for the minutiae of motherhood, and her deft characterization of Lanie gives readers a protagonist they can both cheer for and cringe with. Because of Center’s witty yet touching writing, readers feel the joy and pain as Lanie navigates her new world—new playgrounds, new people, and new chances to find herself.

The secondary characters are equally well written and entertaining. Josh (Lanie’s single landlord), Nora (the widowed downstairs neighbor who is not-so-secretly referred to as “The Witch”), and Nelson (Lanie’s divorced photography teacher) all offer Lanie a glimpse of what her life could be like if she weren’t married to her husband.

Center weaves into the narrative Lanie’s memories of how she met her husband and the story of their courtship. These insights show readers how things used to be, and we anxiously cross our fingers and toes, hoping that Lanie’s relationship with her husband hasn’t changed as much as she thinks.

Moms of all backgrounds will relate to Lanie. It’s possible you may even run into Lanie at your local playground. If you do see her with her greasy hair in a ponytail, diaper bag overflowing, and quite possibly a nursing boob hanging out, don’t rush to judgment. Just ask her if she needs any help.

(Review copy source: Public Library)

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