my take: “Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.”*
Nanette and Alex meet through their encounter with an out-of-publication novel, The Bubblegum Reaper. Each is a loner in their own way. They try to discover what happens to the hero of the book after the final chapter – much like The Fault in Our Stars.
Exquisite celebrates the different, the wall-flower, the marginalized, the odd-bird, the lonely as seen through the eyes of a high schooler.
Helping teenagers see we’re not all the same … and yet we are all the same. Feeling apartness – other-ness is part of the human condition. As Nanette discovers her own apartness, she looks to the ‘herd’ of high schoolers as being the same – wanting to conform to what success and ‘happiness’ look like: popularity, sports achievements, drinking, sex, being considered ‘normal’.
Ultimately, Nanette’s choice can not be everybody’s choice – going to find a different group of people. Some of us need to stay in the pool we’re in … and realize that though we may not fit in, we’re still valuable. I heartily applaud Mr. Quick’s philosophical allusion that the unexamined life is not worth living. I would add that there are layers of examination … after all, what we learn so much after those brutal teenage years.
my source: popped up after I ordered The Memory of Light from Amazon
my verdict: Great YA read. I also loved his The Good Luck of Right Now
*Quoted in Every Exquisite Thing from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.
If you are read the hardcover edition, check under the dust cover when you’re done.
Matthew Quick is one of those authors I'm always keeping tabs on when a new book is coming out… Got to get my hands on your copy soon, once my YA slot opens up again.