Everything Here Is Beautiful

Everything Here Is Beautiful

Two Chinese-American sisters—Miranda, the older, responsible one, always her younger sister’s protector; Lucia, the headstrong, unpredictable one, whose impulses are huge and, often, life changing. When Lucia starts hearing voices, it is Miranda who must find a way to reach her sister. Lucia impetuously plows ahead, but the bitter constant is that she is, in fact, mentally...

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Title:Everything Here Is Beautiful
Author:Mira T. Lee
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Everything Here Is Beautiful Reviews

  • Diane S ☔

    4.5 Mental illness and the huge toll it takes on family, friends and the sufferers themselves. We meet two sisters, Jie, the responsible one, the protector and Lucia, creative, whimsical, impetuous. Two very different women, trying to have stable lives, but find many impediments in their paths. Stable lives built on an unstable foundation. We hear many different viewpoints, from different people, see and feel many different sides as those close try to help Lucia, keep her stable, taking her meds

    4.5 Mental illness and the huge toll it takes on family, friends and the sufferers themselves. We meet two sisters, Jie, the responsible one, the protector and Lucia, creative, whimsical, impetuous. Two very different women, trying to have stable lives, but find many impediments in their paths. Stable lives built on an unstable foundation. We hear many different viewpoints, from different people, see and feel many different sides as those close try to help Lucia, keep her stable, taking her meds.How this drains them, often not knowing what to do, nor how to help or even cope.

    It is Lucia's story, her thoughts that bring the reader into her very being, her inner core. She tries so hard, wants only good things for those she loves, which eventually includes a young daughter. She is at times so much fun, imaginative, a hard worker, but sometimes she doesnt know what is real, what is not. She is in and out of different facilities, diagnosed with different mentasl illnesses, given medications, some with horrible sdide effects. We see the toll this takes on all.

    It is also as novel about the alienation, the fear people feel when they don't know how to fix things. The strain and stress of always watching, waiting. The different health care facilities in other countries, or lack thereof. This is a very emotional read, and the ending is as well. I became so invested in these characters, their lives, felt their struggle, their desperation at times. This is a very character driven read, and one in which I became emotionally involved. Beautifully written and extremely well done.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Angela M

    There are times when everything here really is beautiful, but there were many times when it wasn't. The times when the complexities of a woman's recurring mental illness not only take over her life, but impacts the lives of the people close to her - her sister, the men in her life, her baby daughter. This story is filled with sadness and love as Lucia struggles with her demons, those voices in her head, the ups and downs, while trying to just live out her dreams and desires. It's also very much

    There are times when everything here really is beautiful, but there were many times when it wasn't. The times when the complexities of a woman's recurring mental illness not only take over her life, but impacts the lives of the people close to her - her sister, the men in her life, her baby daughter. This story is filled with sadness and love as Lucia struggles with her demons, those voices in her head, the ups and downs, while trying to just live out her dreams and desires. It's also very much her sister Miranda's story who is desperate to help Lucia get the right diagnosis, the right medication and puts her life on hold every time Lucia needs help whether she wants it or not .

    The story is told from multiple points of view - Miranda's and Lucia's, both when she is doing well and the times when she isn't. We also get the perspective of Manny, the Ecuadorian man who is the father of Lucia's daughter, with whom she has a relationship with after her marriage fails. It's hard to read at times as it depicts the difficulties of treatment, the difficulties of compliance with treatment and the difficulties of diagnosing the illness and the things that happen when Lucia won't take her meds. Is it schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, a combination ? I have had no real experience dealing with mental illness with anyone close to me so it's hard for me to tell how realistic the portrayal is but it definitely felt real and it was heartbreaking.

    There's so much to this story. The sisters' past with their mother who has lost her husband and emigrates from China to the US with Miranda and pregnant with Lucia. Lucia's move to Ecuador with Manny and their daughter, her continuing struggle. Throughout I couldn't help but want things to be better for Lucia and was pulled towards the end in hopes of that it would be. It's about how debilitating mental illness can be, about family bonds that can't be broken. A haunting tale, with characters you care about. I have to give 5 stars to this well written debut novel.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from Dorman Books through Edelweiss.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    May all books about mental health challenges be this honest, this realistic.

    From the start, I was enthralled with Miranda and Lucia’s characters. These sisters had an interesting beginning in the United States after moving with their single mother from China. Family stories are always my favorite, and this one delivered “family” on every level. The story follows Miranda and Lucia throughout their lives, including Lucia’s development

    May all books about mental health challenges be this honest, this realistic.

    From the start, I was enthralled with Miranda and Lucia’s characters. These sisters had an interesting beginning in the United States after moving with their single mother from China. Family stories are always my favorite, and this one delivered “family” on every level. The story follows Miranda and Lucia throughout their lives, including Lucia’s development of a mental illness and thereafter. What ensued is a true-to-life account of a sister who tried to advocate, save, support her sister, while also trying to find the balance and living her own life. When Miranda wasn’t there, it was Yonah (oh, what a loveable character!), Lucia’s first husband. And when not him, it was Manny (equally loveable in different ways), her second husband and the father to her child. Each person had his/her own way of helping Lucia, and the manner in which the story was told added layer upon layer of perspective from each voice. A side benefit to book was culture- Chinese culture, Israeli culture, Ecuadorian culture, and the culture of mental health.

    All of that led to

    . My biggest hope is that this book will help in gaining insight into the area of mental health (we all have mental health! 😊), perspective-taking, and through that, empathy. It would be typical and easy to feel sad for Lucia and her family members. Anyone would. They went through so much trying to live life while taking care of her. But what’s more important, and most definitely harder, is to move past the sympathy and sadness, which disconnects you from the pain of others, and feel connected to others through empathy- by walking in Lucia’s/Miranda’s/Yonah’s/Manny’s/Essy’s shoes. Through empathy there comes true acceptance, and I think that’s what many facing difficulties with mental health want more than anything.

    I’m passionate about mental health, and I’m so grateful that this book was written with truth, heart, and complete realism, even though I will always wish/hope for better outcomes.

    This was a Traveling Sister read that I joined in late, once everyone else had finished. My sisters are awesome and came back to the thread to discuss with me throughout. I think it shows how much we all cared about this book and its characters. 💕 Please visit Brenda and Norma’s blog for sister reviews:

    Thank you to Mira T. Lee, Pamela Dorman Books/Penguin, and Edelweiss for the complimentary copy of this deeply moving book.

  • Jen

    There are moments of beauty for everyone when one clears away the fog; the clutter. In nature, in joy. We all experience it- Young and old; heathy; sick. The optimist and sometimes even the pessimist. And for those who suffer from mental illness- The highs; the lows. The instability of the disease and the stability of relationships.

    But there is a whole lot going on in this story that is not beautiful, but instead very sad and heartbreaking.

    This is a story of 2 sisters. The younger one who suffe

    There are moments of beauty for everyone when one clears away the fog; the clutter. In nature, in joy. We all experience it- Young and old; heathy; sick. The optimist and sometimes even the pessimist. And for those who suffer from mental illness- The highs; the lows. The instability of the disease and the stability of relationships.

    But there is a whole lot going on in this story that is not beautiful, but instead very sad and heartbreaking.

    This is a story of 2 sisters. The younger one who suffers from mental illness; the older one who suffers from the burden of worrying about her younger sister. The guilt of living her own life not knowing at times where her sister was especially when not getting treatment.

    It's about living with the illness and the reactions from people not familiar with the disease- another battle on its own.

    But, there are moments of beauty here too. As heavy of a read this is, it's about a relationship between sisters; between partners; between family.

    My heart is heavy for Lucia, Miranda and my favourite, Yonah. This is life- in its moments of darkness, heart achingly sad and gloomy; in its light, exquisitely blindingly bright and beautiful.

    5⭐️ for an emotional written, although heart hurting, debut.

  • Karen

    5 Stars for this heartbreaking story of a young woman named Lucia with mental illness, who struggles with the “serpents” inside her. A story of how this mental illness impacts her relationships with her very close older sister, and then later her husband, lover, and child. We are taken to many locations in this book as Lucia changes her life course.. from New York, to Ecuador, to Minnesota. Also covered in this story are immigration, and Mental Health Care.

    This was, surprisingly, a debut novel!

    5 Stars for this heartbreaking story of a young woman named Lucia with mental illness, who struggles with the “serpents” inside her. A story of how this mental illness impacts her relationships with her very close older sister, and then later her husband, lover, and child. We are taken to many locations in this book as Lucia changes her life course.. from New York, to Ecuador, to Minnesota. Also covered in this story are immigration, and Mental Health Care.

    This was, surprisingly, a debut novel! Well done!

    Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Viking for the ARC

  • Elyse Walters

    Audiobook.....with fantastic narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Emily Woo Zeller, and others.

    ISRAELI’S DON’T ICE FISH!......

    .....Hello? They live in the desert- ice fishing in Michigan is crazy-thinking to a grumpy Israeli-immigrant. A few times I laughed - laughed hard - as I felt I understood Yonah, ( a character from Israel)...who had no interest in ICE FISHING....

    Yonah was just one of the complex characters we come to know.

    But - most of the time - I wasn’t laughing. This is a heart-wrenching -

    Audiobook.....with fantastic narrators: Cassandra Campbell, Emily Woo Zeller, and others.

    ISRAELI’S DON’T ICE FISH!......

    .....Hello? They live in the desert- ice fishing in Michigan is crazy-thinking to a grumpy Israeli-immigrant. A few times I laughed - laughed hard - as I felt I understood Yonah, ( a character from Israel)...who had no interest in ICE FISHING....

    Yonah was just one of the complex characters we come to know.

    But - most of the time - I wasn’t laughing. This is a heart-wrenching - sensitive story focused on two sisters - their relationship - their extended relationships - and the aching hole inside them both. We hurt for ‘both’ of them for different reasons.

    Miranda has felt responsible for her younger sister, Lucia, since they were young - especially after their mother died.

    Lucia is not well - lovable - a delightful free spirit - but suffers with a mental illness —-an unclear diagnosis. It’s Miranda that keeps tracks of Lucia’s behavior - knows her history more than anyone - tracks her medications - but she also can never be 100% sure when Lucia is ‘in’ her disease or if her spunky personality is her normal state of being. In other words - she is often walking on eggshells. Miranda makes suggestions - but it’s not her place to control her sister either.

    The girls are of Chinese descent - and are living in the United States.

    There is a lot going on in this novel: mental illness- illegal immigration - undocumented Manny (Ecuadorian) - tensions - family tensions - sacrifices - husbands - births - judgements- fears -EVERYONE IS AFFECTED- deaths - loss- grief - guilt -

    This novel asks us many questions— how do we create a successful relationship with a loved one when the circumstances of their behaviors are beyond our control? How do we best be supportive yet not be so entangled that we can’t separate ourselves either?

    There are no characters in here who don’t suffer from insecurities - IN RELATING TO EACH OTHER..... but their voices are heard. We hear them. We feel them - have compassion for them.

    The author’s talents and humanity are both huge! GREAT BOOK!!!!

  • Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*

    Lucia is a schizophrenic and Miranda tries everything she can to help her sister. She did the best she could. The author shows how each person close to Lucia is touched by this mental illness. This book is so heartbreaking.

    I am not sure who struggles the most, the family or the one with the mental illness. I don't think anyone knew the severity of Lucia's illness but her sister did. Lucia seemed to need people on her side to tell her its O.K not to take her medication and be hospitalized, when

    Lucia is a schizophrenic and Miranda tries everything she can to help her sister. She did the best she could. The author shows how each person close to Lucia is touched by this mental illness. This book is so heartbreaking.

    I am not sure who struggles the most, the family or the one with the mental illness. I don't think anyone knew the severity of Lucia's illness but her sister did. Lucia seemed to need people on her side to tell her its O.K not to take her medication and be hospitalized, when of course both is needed.

    She is a danger to those around her, to her baby, to those she lives with, and to herself, yet she doesn't see it and no one can make her. Not unless she takes her medication. She loves Yonah, because he let's her be herself, and he doesn't care if she takes her medications.

    Miranda has to be the strong one. She doesnt show weakness or show emotion. No one takes care of her, but she takes care of everyone. She tries the best she can to get the help her sister needs.

    I think the author gives us a powerful message. I loved how the author has taken us into the mind of Lucy and let's us see and feel what is going on in her mind. It really showed how frightening and fearful the mental illness is and what Lucia went through with her thoughts. To live with psychotic episodes, the hallucinations both auditory and visual has to be terrifying. I think if she took her medications she would of been able to manage her life better.

    Manny, in the beginning didn't seem to be informed as he needed to be about her illness. He then finally made sure that Lucia took her medications, seeing that she was a danger for him and his daughter.

    He had to be responsible.

    I loved how the author has provided us with an insight into each characters thoughts. This book is a heart wrenching family drama about relationships and tough choices-how much we're willing to sacrifice for the ones we love and when its time to let go and save ourselves.

    All of the characters were so well developed. The author did a really good job bringing the book to life with the characters. I really did get to know each character. Some parts of the book has difficult subject matter and can be so heartbreaking. I really loved this book.

    I highly recommend it.

    This was a Traveling Sister read and loved reading this with them. It was a very fantastic discussion.

    I want to thank Edelweiss, the publisher and the author for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Crumb

    This novel was an intense meditation on how mental illness can affect not only the person suffering, but everyone around them. It was about one woman’s descent into madness and a sister who stood by and fought to protect her with every fragment of her being. Although this book was about mental illness, schizophrenia to be precise, it was about so much more than that. It was about love,family, and tenacity. It was also about the bond between two sisters. Finally, it was about perseverance when it

    This novel was an intense meditation on how mental illness can affect not only the person suffering, but everyone around them. It was about one woman’s descent into madness and a sister who stood by and fought to protect her with every fragment of her being. Although this book was about mental illness, schizophrenia to be precise, it was about so much more than that. It was about love,family, and tenacity. It was also about the bond between two sisters. Finally, it was about perseverance when it seemed that all hope was lost.

    This book offers a unique perspective on mental illness. We not only see how the protagonist is affected, but we see how everyone surrounding her is affected as well. Miranda, Lucia’s sister, was fighting to ensure and preserve Lucia’s safety and sanity. As a reader, we see the tension between Lucia and Miranda; All Miranda wants is for Lucia to take her medication. Lucia, however, doesn’t understand why she needs medication. From her viewpoint, she isn’t sick. For Lucia, these “serpents in her mind” are her reality. They are her norm. They are as real to her as this window I am looking out of right now.

    I wanted to scream, and cry, and shout, and shake Lucia, just as Miranda did. I wanted Lucia to understand that she was ill, and to understand why she desperately needs to take care of herself. I wanted to force Lucia to see the light, just as her sister, Miranda did. Of course, that’s not realistic. The only way a person can get better is when they accept that they have a problem and make a decision to seek help, for themselves, and not for anyone else.

    I also appreciated that this book shined a bright light on the topic of mental illness and opened up a dialogue for an issue that I think has been shrouded in darkness and stigmatized for far too long. When someone is suffering from diabetes, there is no shame in that. When someone has cancer and they survive, they are considered a warrior. Why aren't people who struggle with mental illness viewed the same way? I want to open up a dialogue about mental illness. There should be no shame or guilt surrounding issues involving mental health. I don't think people need to talk about depression or bipolar disorder in hushed tones, behind closed doors. Let's start a conversation.

    I highly recommend this book. This was a heartbreaking book, but an important one. It was also an impressive debut. Bravo!

  • Emily May

    Lately, I'm really enjoying these quieter family drama books with strong writing, unforgettable characters, and a deep emotional pull. Perhaps I'm a little burned out on tropes and action but, whatever the reason,

    worked its way into my heart and kept me hooked on the characters' lives until the very last page.

    At its heart, this novel looks at living with a c

    Lately, I'm really enjoying these quieter family drama books with strong writing, unforgettable characters, and a deep emotional pull. Perhaps I'm a little burned out on tropes and action but, whatever the reason,

    worked its way into my heart and kept me hooked on the characters' lives until the very last page.

    At its heart, this novel looks at living with a chronic mental illness. Lucia is the wild, funny, brilliant, extravagant sister, as the more serious and controlled Miranda has always known. She's also prone to spiralling into cycles of depression and obsessive behaviour, fuelled by her schizoaffective disorder. Miranda knows that, too, and her adult life has mostly been dedicated to ensuring her sister takes the pills that mute the voices in her head.

    As the two Chinese-American women get older, they build their own lives. Lucia marries a big-hearted one-armed Israeli man called Yonah and Miranda moves to Switzerland, whose clean precision suits her personality well. Lucia's life moves through ups and downs, soon taking her away from Yonah and to a young Ecuadorian called Manuel, who is living in New York as an undocumented immigrant.

    The story centers around Lucia and her struggle with the "serpents" in her mind, as she takes on motherhood, living in Ecuador, and a career of her own, but Lee develops all the other characters around her so that Lucia doesn't feel like a lab specimen being scrutinized.

    The book moves through several different perspectives and switches between first and third person. In other books, I sometimes find such constant movement between characters to be jarring, but they were all portrayed with such love and sensitivity here that I never experienced that familiar dissatisfaction of being with a character who was less interesting than the others.

    Lee shows all the misunderstandings and misinformation around mental illness. She considers Lucia's fear that her illness is the "reality" and that the pills are numbing it, as well as Miranda and Manuel's difficulty of distinguishing eccentricities from mental illness.

    The honest answer is that no one really knows.

    A beautiful, thought-provoking book with the kind of characters I know will stay with me.

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