A debut novel of two sisters and their emotional journey through love, loyalty, and heartbreak, and an exploration of a young woman’s quest to find fulfillment and a life unconstrained by her mental illness.
That’s the power of family, awful and wonderful, and this power ripples through the pages of Mira T. Lee’s extraordinary debut novel. If you love anyone at all, this book is going to get you ... The novel covers decades at a swift clip, but it never feels rushed or lightly explored. There’s a lifelike texture to the fast passage of time, each relationship painted with deep, efficient strokes. Lee is a cogent, controlled writer, hitting big themes — immigration, mental illness, romance, family — while avoiding the usual traps of mawkishness and emotional manipulation ... Everything Here Is Beautiful is no fairy tale. It springs from the rich mess of love and pain and humanity, the restlessness of real life that ensures nothing is fixed ever after.
Too often, the mentally ill are portrayed in literature as evil villains bent upon bringing unspeakable harm to unsuspecting, rational people. Mira T. Lee’s debut novel, Everything Here Is Beautiful, counters that harmful stereotype with her sensitive portrayal of Lucia, a vivacious, intelligent, and creative woman afflicted with an illness about whose diagnosis 'doctors could never agree, whether it was schizophrenia or bipolar disorder or something on the spectrum in between' ... The story sprawls out from there. While Lee’s prose is unfailingly lovely and compelling, the distractions to the main story accumulate. The narrative not only seeks to encompass the devastating effects of mental illness, but also the immigrant experience... With this tender, beautifully written novel, Mira Lee seeks to erase the stigma of mental illness by portraying it as a debilitating malady whose sufferers should be treated with the same dignity and sympathy as any other victim of a chronic illness.
...an astonishing and imaginative chronicle of mental illness and the unbreakable bonds of family ... In shimmering prose, Lee nimbly unfurls a story that slithers like a serpent back and forth through time and across the threshold between what is perceived and what is real, producing a nuanced view of a complex woman and what it means to love her ... There are no easy answers to these questions, and Lee does not pretend otherwise. Instead, she presents us with a sensitive and elusive story of sisterhood and schizophrenia that is brimming with another one of Lucia’s favorite words: saudade, a deep, melancholic longing for a person or state that is absent. This electrifying first novel is wistful, wise and utterly unforgettable.