Select one of the keywords
Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined    by Danielle Younge-Ullman order for
Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined
by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Order:  USA  Can
Razorbill, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In Danielle Younge-Ullman's emotionally gripping YA novel, Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined, readers share a very challenging wilderness adventure with Ingrid, while gradually learning her back story. Ingrid grew up the only child of famed opera star Margot-Sophia, a single mother.

After Margot-Sophia lost her voice - and her career with it - she suffered a serious depression, but finally this 'opera-singing butterfly diva' reinvented herself as Moth-Mom Marg Burke. We gradually learn this through Ingrid's daily letters to her mother. It seems that Marg sent her on a wilderness survival trek (for at-risk teens such as addicts and runaways) but showed Ingrid a brochure with charming log cabins. Why would she do that? Ingrid also writes letters to Isaac, who was her boyfriend - what happened there?

There are nine campers and two leaders (social worker and psychotherapist), who constantly test and challenge participants. They carry their food and camping equipment with them, and later portage canoes. Each evening there's a mandatory circle, and the campers are encouraged to talk about themselves. One, from a very traditional family, is gay. Another was on the street. One was in a cult. Another was in jail. What is Ingrid doing in this group?

Ingrid overcomes challenges - a flooded tent; soaked clothes; a grueling hike; navigating a bog; attack by a fellow camper; and rapids. She helps others, shows that she's a natural leader, and gets close to a tent mate, but she also cries for two days - the stress of the wilderness experience? As the wilderness adventure concludes, all is revealed and understood. And Ingrid finally accepts what her mother told her, that everything beautiful is not ruined.

Don't miss this extraordinary novel about an essentially strong and loving daughter trying to find her own way in life, after dealing with more than her share of hardship and sorrow. It's beautifully told.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews