Van has finished reading…Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick

3 Jun

That thing where you realise you’re definitely not a young adult anymore. That’s me reading this book.

Nannette O’Hare, white, privileged, even studious as well as being the toast of the soccer team, is nonetheless disaffected. And that’s what made me realise I’m outside the ideal demographic for Matthew Quick’s Every Exquisite Thing. I couldn’t get close to Nanette. I couldn’t feel for her in the way I wanted to and so ultimately I wanted to like this book more than I ended up liking it. The story is put together well. The parallels between Nanette’s experience and the events of the novel within the novel, The Bubblegum Reaper, are nicely laid out and the switch to third person about halfway through is really effective.

It’s an outsider’s story so of course there’s the expectation that the main characters will be different from everyone else but I can’t help thinking Matthew Quick missed a trick in making everyone else so normal (or perhaps what I mean here is normal in the same way). Where the difference is as stark as black and white it leaves little middle ground for the reader to question their own doubts or sympathies.

Okay, I’m definitely not a young adult anymore so I’m a little less qualified in appraising how well these characters will translate. Whereas a character like Lalla from Antonia Honeywell’s The Ship (which wasn’t written or marketed as a Young Adult novel) carries an appeal that spans a broad age range (if you have kids and they’ve not read the Ship yet trick them into reading it by saying it’s a grown-up’s book) Nanette, for me, is far more niche. I can see the ways in which Nanette would appeal to a younger reader but they may well be the exact reasons why she’ll be distant to an older one.

I guess every generation needs its Holden Caulfield. Nanette O’Hare could well be a Holden for the disaffected youth of today. Of course the problem with that is that we already have Holden who is consistently a Holden for every generation. Still, as the cover of the book says, there is room for all of us in this world. Try it for yourself. If you don’t love it your teenagers probably will.

Every Exquisite Thing was published by Headline on 31st May 2016 ISBN:9781472229540

You can find Matthew Quick on Twitter @MatthewQuick21 and on his website,


One Response to “Van has finished reading…Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick”

  1. Booklighting 03/06/2016 at 4:36 pm #

    Really interesting point about the uniformity of the characters 🙂

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