Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle- Younge-Ullman ~Goodreads~
Published by Scholastic 2017
Paperback edition 368 pages ~Book Depository~
Thank you to Scholastic for sending me this ARC for an honest review.
Ingrid has made a deal with her mother: she gets to go to the school of her choice as long as she completes a three-week wilderness programme. But when Ingrid arrives, she quickly realizes there has been a terrible mistake: there will be no marshmallows or cabins here. Instead, her group will embark on a torturous trek, with almost no guidance from the two counsellors and supplied with only the things they can carry. On top of this, the other teen participants are “at risk youth”, a motley crew of screw-ups, lunatics and delinquents. But as the laborious days go by, and as memories of her complicated past come flooding back, Ingrid must confront the question of whether she shares more in common with these troubled teens than she’s willing to admit.
Going into this book I didn’t really know what to expect. From the synopsis I was under the impression it might be a bit more sinister, but from receiving the copy the cover is gorgeous and bright and covered in moths and butterfly’s and I wasn’t expecting me to love it as much as I do.
Our protagonist Ingrid makes a deal with her Mum to be sent to a wilderness camp for three weeks, in exchange for attending a school in England she has dreamed of going to. Set out using letters from the camp and flashbacks from the past to the present day help to tell this story incredibly well, and we’re left with a surprise at the ending. What I loved about the structure of this book is the way we the reader are almost like another member of the camp, and we’re getting to know Ingrid through these letters and flashbacks and how she has become the young girl she is today. Ingrid’s dry humour and mannerisms had me laughing to myself, because she acts just the way I would if I found out that ‘camp’ was really proper camping and having to deal with the rain, mud, and not having enough pairs of underwear. Witty, sarcastic, and just utterly relatable. From the beginning we learn that she is very much a determined person who strives to follow her dreams no matter what the cost, however it also becomes clear as to why she is so determined to prove her Mum wrong and that she can survive camp.
The book has a wide range of other characters, from Ingrid’s camp mates, to family members we don’t meet ourselves but through Ingrid’s flashbacks. Some of these characters you will love, while others will make your skin crawl. Ingrid’s mother for example we discover was a famous opera singer, and what comes of this also becomes central to the plot too and how it affects Ingrid and her upbringing.
The story itself appears quite simple, when really it has a much more of a deeper message. It’s about hopes and dreams, and chasing them because we want to. We shouldn’t compare our experiences with other people but concentrate on how we feel and how they impact on us.
If you love contemporary books with adventure and a positive message, then this is the one for you. I adored it so much and it was impossible to put down.
I absolutely cannot wait for Danielle to write another novel soon!