Shogun, James Clavell’s Shogun will be that one book I will always hold near and dear to my bookworm heart. Shogun has everything: suspense, intrigue, culture, politics and history and it will undoubtedly be my favorite novel until another comes along. For many of us we will always remember that one book that has stayed with us our entire lives, sometimes drawing inspiration from it or sometimes trying to imitate from it. In Matthew Quick’s new young adult novel, Every Exquisite Thing, it is a novel that changes a person’s life and opens her senses to see things differently, albeit with consequences.
When Nannette O’Hare, excellent senior high school and star player of the female soccer varsity team, is given a novel titled The Bubblegum Reaper, she begins questioning her very existence. She quits her varsity team, distances herself from her friends, and tries to find out a way to carve out a new identity without joining the faceless masses of her youth. Along the way she meets Booker, the author of The Bubblegum Reaper; Alex, a troubled young poet and Oliver, Alex’s young and just as troubled friend. Together they guide Nannette along her journey of rediscovery to find out what she wants in life.
Growing up I can say that I was a Nannete. I didn’t want to fit in, I didn’t want to join the revelry that everyone was doing. Simply put I wanted to grow up, to be sure of myself, to be confident and to have all the answers in my hands and in my pockets. Being different for me was good but Matthew Quick also writes its bad side. How Nannette spirals into a self-destructive path that eventually, as in typical in Matthew Quick novels, affects her mental and emotional wellbeing.
After Leonard Peacock, I was moved by how deep Matthew Quick’s first YA novel was. Far from using the usual tropes of a dystopian society, high-fantasy and science fiction, Matthew Quick brings everything back home. Boring suburbia where people clearly have their own struggles. In Leonard Peacock it was a misunderstood and broken character who wanted to kill his best friend and commit suicide; in Exquisite, conformity and identity were the problems. It wasn’t as deep as the first one but the messages Matthew Quick writes in his novel clearly echo to anyone who has ever felt jaded and sidelined.
Once again Matthew Quick has proven himself a master writer. He writes about topics casually and without complication. He brings problems out in the open, dissects it and gives it to his readers to be readily understood. And sometimes that’s all you need, someone to make sense of it all, to give it to you without any complications.