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Everyone Is Beautiful: A Novel Hardcover – February 17, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Lanie Coates moves from Houston to Cambridge, Mass., with her musician husband, Peter, she loses her support system and quickly becomes overwhelmed by her three small boys and a self-image that's sagging both literally and figuratively. In this agreeable mom-lit entry from the author of The Bright Side of Disaster, Lanie, a former painter, finds beauty in everyone but herself, and especially adores Peter, even though the two of them seem to be drifting apart. The early chapters nearly sink beneath the weight of routine housekeeping details and scenes describing the children's bodily functions and fascination with their body parts, matters most parents have experienced, but which don't necessarily make for great fiction. However, as Lanie begins to find herself through a newfound passion for photography, the story gains traction, and the tension grows as her photography teacher turns out to be a smitten kitten. Like real-life marriage with children, this book offers enough sparkling moments to compensate for the tedium. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Everything in Lainie Coates’ life is changing. Her husband receives a scholarship to a prestigious music school, so the family moves from her native Houston to Cambridge, Massachusetts. While Peter is involved with his studies, Lainie feels lost and alienated caring for her three young sons until she meets Amanda, an acquaintance from high school, at a local park. Lainie is at her frumpiest—in sweatpants, still carrying the weight from her baby—when a stranger asks when her baby is due. Mortified, she lies. How does one explain her error to gorgeous Amanda with her perfect daughter? This embarrassing incident starts Lainie on the path to her own self-discovery, that is, if she can find the time and the outlet. Center takes a woman at her most vulnerable time and sets her on a journey to find herself without losing what she holds most dear in a superbly written novel filled with unique and resonant characters. --Patty Engelmann
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066433
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066438
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Katherine Center's writing is so honest that I spent a lot of time wincing and thinking "I'm so glad it's not just me." The book is also so funny that I found myself laughing hysterically in almost every chapter (which is rare for me).

Everyone is Beautiful is for every woman who has ever struggled to find, hold on to, and nurture authenticity in the midst of that wild, messy, wonderful thing called motherhood.

This is the perfect book club book. It's also the kind of book that you hand to a close friend and grin when you say, "I think you'll relate."
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderfully written, laugh out loud book about life, love, and motherhood. I don't think there's a mother alive who won't be able to identify in some way.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved this book. It was very engaging and funny throughout. I think I read the whole thing in a day or two. It's about a couple in their 30s and parenting their 3 little boys as they move to the East coast from Texas as the husband goes to college for his music degree. The main character does a lot of self-discovery throughout the book and is able to find balance as she juggles 3 boys and her own needs for creativity and independence. It's a nice lighthearted story with a very casual writing style. Anyone with 3 or more children would definitely love it. Others may like it too, but it's more relatable for those with multiple children and maybe a slightly quirky sense of humor.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Part of the reason that I loved this book is because I see myself in Lanie, and I think a lot of moms would. I moved away from family while pregnant, doing most of the packing all by myself because my workaholic husband moved a month earlier to start the job. At some point, you realize you're just not the same person you used to be - you carry a diaper bag, not a purse; you're "just a mom," not a an associate attorney; instead of going to the cocktail parties, you're going to Gymboree.

The questions Lanie faces are the same ones we all do. Can we reconnect with our younger dreams? When did being something for someone else mean that we didn't have time to be what we need to be for ourselves? At some point, isn't important to say "no, I need to do this for me?" And, can you keep it all together at the end of the day?

This was well written, an easy, fast read with plenty of questions to ponder at the end of the day. You'll be glad you read it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is chick-lit for the married-with-young-kids crowd, and since that is me, and I frequently read chick-lit for fun, I was expecting to love this book. And there were moments I found very funny, and moments I found very touching, but overall it was just average for me for this genre. I found the lead characters annoying at times (which I realize is a very subjective response, but that is the point of reviews), and I felt at other times the book required too much suspension of disbelief.

The plot revolves around a couple, Lanie and Peter, with three kids under 5, who have just moved to Boston so Peter can attend a graduate program in composing (he is a classical music composer). Lanie is determined to get herself back together, and begin nurturing her own artistic dreams again, and to that end begins going to a gym and taking a photography class at night after the kids are in bed. The ensuing events drive them apart, and their struggles are the heart of the book. In the midst of this are many scenes involving the chaos of having young kids - the kids covered in maxi-pads they've taken out of the grocery bag while Lanie is on the phone, the kids covered in poop they've taken out of a diaper at a dinner party, the kids filling the bathtub with shaving cream, etc.

Although some of the unruly-kids scenes were very funny, at other times it felt like overkill. And the plot climax partly revolves around a cell phone snafu caused by the kids that doesn't seem believable to me (I think most of us would fully test our cell phone out in this situation, believe me!!) And Lanie just seems a bit passive at times, and Peter a bit too self-involved, and all of that is required to make the plot work, but doesn't make for the greatest reader-character connection. But maybe that's just me!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was pleasantly surprised to discover this gem of woman wisdom.the main character embodies all of us, our loss and discovery of our self.ours struggles with weight and relationship s, our need for love and family. Really so good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Katherine Center draws the portrait of an overwhelmed mom and an underwhelmed (or overburdened) marriage beautifully.

I laughed out loud several times, and found myself nodding over and over again with her spot-on human observations.

One friend who also enjoyed the book said that she wished that it had gone slightly deeper, but then we decided that it would have been a deeper book, and it wouldn't have been such a delightful read.

Don't get me wrong -- this is not chick-lit, however it also doesn't go so deeply into the serious issues that it tackles that you find yourself feeling burdened down. Instead, it's uplifting.
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Format: Hardcover
Katherine Center has done it again - created a novel about family, motherhood and sense of self that is gripping, humorous, and dramatic enough to keep me reading right up until the end. Lainie is much more than simply the downtrodden, neglected wife and mother (though she is also that) and her fight for one hour of gym time is the start of her growing up a little and discovering who she is beyond the confines of her family.

Where that discovery takes her is something Center lets unfold with the help of some characters who are quirky enough in and of themselves. One little white lie that will be horrific and family to anyone packing on a few pounds plays a major plot point later on (I don't want to give too much away). Lainie's attempts to hold her family and marriage together, while also finding her own artistic impulses and inspirations, is at the heart of this book. Tender and touching, it makes me hope there are many more such novels in Center's future.
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