I was drawn to this book by the title – it sounded poetic and conjured, well, beautiful images.

It is poetic. Written by the poet Ocean Vuong, it’s also a stream of consciousness letter written to an abusive mother. So, beauty with brutality. It’s an immigrant’s tale, a post war tale, a journey to sexual identity, a recognition of the inherent complexities of relationships, a wanting to be known.

“I am thinking of beauty again, how some things are hunted because we have deemed them beautiful. If, relative to the history of our planet, an individual life is so short, a blink of an eye, as they say, then to be gorgeous, even from the day you’re born to the day you die, is to be gorgeous only briefly….To be gorgeous, you must first be seen, but to be seen allows you to be hunted.” p. 238

There is some luminous writing, and overall the story was a bit too depressing and disconnected to be the beauty-filled experience I was anticipating. It reminded me of A Little Life – only slightly less brutal. 3.5/5 stars.