Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center

Anna (her review) handed me Everyone Is Beautiful by Katherine Center after a conversation we had about marriage and child rearing. She told me that I would enjoy it, and she was right . . . for the most part.

Everyone is Beautiful by Katherine Center begins when Lanie Coates and her family move from Houston to Cambridge, Mass., into a smaller home with their rambunctious boys who clearly need more space to run.  From daily visits to the park and the struggle to make friends, Lanie is losing her grip on herself and what’s important.

Even before her family makes the move, she feels adrift from the painter and person she was when she met her husband Peter in college, and even more so, when she learns that her parents have sold the family home to move overseas.

“Now I’d been on the couch for almost three hours, flipping channels with delight, my eyes wide and glazed in a way that made our moving across the country and setting up an entirely new life seem uninteresting and unimportant.  I felt a crazy kind of elation.  I’d forgotten how much TV could pull you out of your own world.  I’d forgotten how great it was.  Books were a good distraction, but TV was like not even being there at all.”  (page 16 of ARC)

The novel is told from Lanie’s point of view, which helps readers experience her struggles with parenting, fitting in with other mothers, and finding herself first hand, but there is a distance between readers and the narrator that is created when she refers to things she learns in the future that she didn’t know at the time.  Narration that slips into this pattern can be distracting to readers who want to be absorbed in the experiences of the characters, making it hard to remain “there” with Lanie and become emotionally connected to her and her situation.

Center, however, does drop anecdotes that all parents, even first time parents, learn very quickly, like telling kids that things are fun just so they won’t complain or give you a hard time or the perverse pleasure some parents have in criticizing others about their parenting skills or kids behavior as a way to reassure themselves that they are doing well.  Some readers may find the antics of Lanie’s children amusing or outrageously funny, but newer mothers may not feel anything but wide-eyed horror.  The novel takes a few twists and turns, which for the most part can be seen miles away, but the end is pure satisfaction.  Everyone is Beautiful is not only about rectifying wrongs or finding oneself, but also is a rekindling of passions and marriage.

This is my 28th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.


  1. While I’m not a mother yet — I do hope to be one someday and I find reading about motherhood to be really interesting. I think this will probably be a worthwhile read for me.

  2. Like Sandy, it was the “been there, done that” aspect that really grabbed me. I felt like the author really understood what I’d been through. I can see how as a new mom you might not connect with the main character on that front; Lanie’s kids are older than Wiggles. Maybe it would have been a better read for you a few years from now in terms of connecting with Lanie and her experiences. I didn’t even notice those issues you pointed out with the narration. Just goes to show how people read books differently.

  3. Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books says

    There were things I said I’d never do as a parent (let the kids watch Barney, drive a mini-van, say “because I said so”) … and I’ve done all of them.
    Not sure I yet find kids’ antics cute, though!
    EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL sounds like a fun read, I’ll remember to take it “with a grain of salt”

    • I think I was just still feeling overwhelmed when I started to read this one. Maybe I should have waited for a later date. LOL

  4. I enjoyed this book. There were times I thought those kids needed some strict discipline. There were times though I could laugh at their antics remembering going through similar things with my own kids. I had fun reading this book.

    • I’m glad other people really enjoyed this book. I just thought it was OK. It took me a lot longer to read it than I expected

  5. I really enjoyed this book. There were some moments that had me absolutely ROLLING (something about a white couch). I listened to it on audio, and it provided exactly what I needed at the time…uplifting story from someone who has “been there and done that”. Sometimes it is good to know we are all bumbling around trying to do the best we can.

    • For some reason I didn’t find this book funny. I’m not sure why, maybe as a new mother, I’m just not ready to laugh at these antics.