Everyone Is Beautiful – Book Review

everyoneisbeautifulHere’s what I need to confess about Peter and me: We were not exactly in love anymore. After fifteen years and three children together, we were often other places besides in it. We were under it, sometimes. Or above it. Or against it. Or in arms’ reach of it. Or in shouting distance of it. Or rubbing shoulders with it. But not in it. Not lately. Not since Baby Sam was born. Baby Sam was, you might say, the straw that broke the Love Camel’s back. And now that camel was lying in the desert in the baking sun. All alone and very thirsty. – from Everyone is Beautiful –

Lanie Coates has just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts from her childhood home in Houston so that her husband Peter can pursue his musical dreams. The couple moves into a tiny apartment with their three children, all under the age of five, and Lanie finds herself overwhelmed, exhausted, and feeling less than beautiful. When she makes the decision to change her life and begins to pursue her own dreams, Lanie soon discovers that beauty and happiness are more than skin deep.

I always know I am reading a terrific novel when I start reading pages out loud to my husband.

“Listen to this,” I said more than once while reading Everyone Is Beautiful…and in between my laughter I shared Center’s wonderful prose with my husband who laughed along with me. Center’s sense of humor is evident on every page of her engaging novel, and even though I do not have children of my own, I was able to relate to Lanie’s puzzlement over her little boys’ fascination with their penises (called “noo-noos” in the novel) or her embarassment when a neighbor drops in to see the three boys  parading naked through Lanie’s house plastered with Maxi pads. Time and again, Center sets up scenes and dialogue which ring true.

Katherine Center’s sophomore effort is full of her signature humor and astonishing insight into women’s lives. Although the novel revolves around a young mother’s life, the story is for every woman. Center touches on a universal truth: that women, in nurturing those they love, often lose themselves in the process. In a society which celebrates physical beauty and bone-thin bodies, many of us feel we are falling short. At the end of a long day of caring for others – whether it be our pets, our children, our aging parents – often while juggling jobs and trying to maintain a happy marriage…many women give up their own dreams or sacrifice personal time which might enrich their lives on another level. So when Lanie cries over her stretch-marks and laments her lost youth, most female readers will empathize.

Everyone is Beautiful is a celebration of all women and the beauty within them:

Laughter is beautiful. Kindness is beautiful. Big boobs should have a big ass to go with them. It’s more important to be interesting, to be vivid, and to be adventurous, than to sit pretty for pictures. A woman’s soft tummy is a miracle of nature. Beauty comes from tenderness. Beauty comes from variety, from specificity, from the fact that no person in the world looks exactly like anyone else. Beauty comes from the tragedy that each person’s life is destined to be lost to time. – from Everyone Is Beautiful –

For any woman who has been too hard on herself, or felt under appreciated or overworked, or simply tired…Katherine Center’s novel will be an affirmation of their inner beauty.

Highly recommended.


Katherine Center’s debut novel, The Bright Side of Disaster, is beautifully written and one I can highly recommend (read my review). And for those readers (like myself) who can’t seem to get enough of Center’s wonderful sense of humor and spot on depictions of women and the challenges they face, look for her third novel Get Lucky due out in the near future. To read more about this author and her work, visit Katherine Center’s website.

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    • Kathy on April 14, 2009 at 16:28

    Your review is fantastic. I can’t wait to read this!

    • Diane on April 14, 2009 at 16:33

    Great Review; this sounds like a fun one for my list.

    • Molly on April 14, 2009 at 17:05

    I have heard great reviews about this book – but your review cinched it for me! Every now and then I require a book that allows me to sit back and just laugh. I will be putting this one at the top of the TBR list.

    • Carolyn on April 14, 2009 at 17:09

    I’m glad I read your review, because the cover illustration would not have prompted me to pick up this book. Sometimes it seems like I read one depressing book after another, so I’m going to buy this one and save it as a “refresher” to enjoy between those darker reads.

    • Wendy on April 14, 2009 at 17:42

    Kathy: Thanks 🙂 I hope you’ll love it!

    Diane: It is a really uplifting read!

    Molly: I am so glad 🙂 This is a fantastic book – and I promise you will laugh.

    Carolyn: I wasn’t crazy about the cover (too “chick lit”), but I had faith in Center’s writing after reading her first book. This is a light, fun, engaging book…a great book to sandwich between darker or more difficult reads.

  1. Beautiful review of a wonderful book!

    • Wendy on April 14, 2009 at 18:24

    Thanks, Amy – I know you loved this one.

  2. I love Katherine Center. Isn’t she just wonderful?! Glad you enjoyed this book as much as I did. And I’m thrilled that the book still connected with you even though you don’t have kids.

    • Kim on April 14, 2009 at 23:10

    Great one… read it all at ttp://www.readersfall.com

    • Kim on April 14, 2009 at 23:10

    Great one… read it all at http://www.readersfall.com

    • Jenny on April 15, 2009 at 04:09

    Love the excerpts you’ve given here! I’m adding this one to a list. 🙂

  3. I adored this book as well. Great review!

    • Kristi on April 15, 2009 at 17:35

    Thank you for this good review! I loved the beginning excerpt and have alread added it to my TBR list.

    • Anna on April 16, 2009 at 06:27

    I agree this was a wonderful book. I read passages to my husband, too, and I knew it was a great book when he actually enjoyed them. He’s not much of a reader. There’s so much in this book for women, and I agree that you don’t have to be a mother to enjoy it.

    • Wendy on April 16, 2009 at 12:10

    Natasha: Katherine Center is a wonderful writer. She is 2 for 2 with me now! I love that her novels are universal for women – regardless of whether or not they have kids. It takes a special kind of writer to pull that off, I think.

    Kim: Your link does not work.

    Jenny: I don’t think you’ll regret adding it to your TBR list 🙂

    Swapna: Another one we agree on!

    Kristi: Glad I’ve tempted you to read this one!

    Anna: My husband laughed along with me – I love humor in a novel…glad you also loved the book!

    • paula on April 17, 2009 at 03:24

    This sounds like a book I would love to read. I’m putting it near the top of my list! Thanks for an awesome review!

    • Wendy on April 17, 2009 at 06:42

    Paula: Oh, you would love this book – I guarantee it would make you laugh! I just loaned out my copy to a friend here, but if she is done reading it by the time I head East, I’ll bring it with me for you to read. You’d read it in a day….

  4. I keep hearing great things about this novel.

    • Wendy on April 22, 2009 at 17:09

    Serena: Katherine Center writes very well for women…if you haven’t read either of her books yet, I can recommend them both!

  5. What an amazing review! Thank you so much for posting about the book and for your lovely and articulate comments about it. I love that you read passages out loud to your husband–what a great compliment! It is really a story from the heart, and I’m so glad it spoke to you. Thanks again so much for all your kind words! Warmly, Katherine

    • Wendy on April 26, 2009 at 07:54

    Thanks for stopping by, Katherine 🙂 It is always easy to write a review for a book I loved reading – I’m looking forward to your next one!

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