Children’s Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews: Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined

Publish May 1, 2017

Stuck attending a wilderness camp during her last summer before college, Ingrid is furious when it turns out to be way more rustic than she was led to believe. Trekking through the forest with a bunch of other disgruntled teens and two annoyingly superior leaders gives Ingrid a lot of time to reflect on what got her here – a trade off that will allow her to pursue her dream of becoming a singer. As the trip continues though, pushing Ingrid to her limits physically and emotionally, journal entries in the form of letters to her mother reveal a conflicted relationship, making Ingrid question whether her determination is worth the cost.

Author of Lola Carlyle’s 12-Step Romance, Danielle Younge-Ullman’s most recent novel, Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined delves into a complex mother-daughter relationship that has become the focus of Ingrid’s life. Used to an affluent lifestyle with her mother, the opera soprano, their world falls apart when Ingrid’s mother loses her upper vocal range and makes Ingrid promise never to tell anyone about their past.

Using flashbacks while Ingrid is on her wilderness adventure, Younge-Ullman reveals a lifetime of mounting secrets and tension, with Ingrid walking on eggshells while her mother deals with continued depression. Ingrid’s inner struggle with past events is mirrored in her physical struggle as she deals with bugs, going to the bathroom in the woods, and harassment from a fellow camper.

With Ingrid’s ability to state the truth of a situation in her feisty voice, readers are sure to be drawn into this well-paced, wrenching tale about having the courage to follow your dreams.

Amy Mathers
Amy Mathers

An avid promoter of Canadian teen fiction, Amy Mathers completed the Marathon of Books in 2014. The money she raised allowed the Canadian Children’s Book Centre to fund the Amy Mathers Teen Book Award. She also reviews for the Canadian Children’s Book News and writes a monthly article for the CCBC e-newsletter.

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