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Reviewed by Mackenzie Johnston
Opening sentence
Thick sea fog rolls in before sunrise. The water isn’t far away, but it is as though it isn’t there at all. I close my eyes for a moment, and I hear it, the slapping of the tide against the rock wall.
Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts by Josie Shapiro is a tale of reclamation and growth that touches all who read it. The story follows the life of Mickey Bloom, a competitive runner who aspires to be an Olympic athlete and must learn to deal with the loss of her greatest dreams. Readers get to witness the outstanding force of resilience that she demonstrates as she is forced to learn the true meaning of dreams. The lessons she learns are ones that every reader can benefit from.

Following a character throughout her life can be difficult, but Shapiro nails it. Mickey grows and changes through trials and tribulations that come from childhood, teenhood, and adulthood, all the while maintaining her key characteristic that mirrors the theme of the novel. Resilience. Shapiro creates a captivating and relatable main character that readers can see themselves in.

One of the key moments of the novel is towards the end, during Mickey’s final race, when she reflects on what she would tell a younger version of herself. She says: “I want you to run because you love yourself, not because you want to change.” This demonstrates the key message that Shapiro is trying to impart on her readers. Throughout the story Mickey is constantly put through trials that test her resilience. Her dreams are twisted into other people’s wishes for her and then shattered around her. She is put through pain and struggles and must fight for every single achievement she earns. A lesser author might use these struggles to show how Mickey has to harden herself against the pain and grow stronger. Shapiro choses instead to foster the much more impactful message, that caring for yourself, loving yourself, is the key to achieving your dreams.

Mickey’s story is one that many athletes both young and old can relate to. From abusive coaches to harsh training methods, many of her struggles are ones that the readers can empathise with. Shapiro has created a character that becomes a figure of hope for readers who can see themselves in her situation. The key message of the story, of resilience, of picking yourself up off the ground and trying again, of being kind to yourself, is a message that is inspiring to all who read it.

Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts is a well written tale with a strong message that pushes readers to confront their own preconceived notions. It is a story that can be read and loved by any age, inspiring reliability in adults and a glimpse into the possibilities the future holds for teens. Overall, the story is of love and redemption; of resilience and growth. Above all, it is a story that tells its readers that it is never too late to follow your dreams. Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts is a must read for anyone who has felt their dreams have been waiting for a second chance.

- Mackenzie is 17 and lives in Hamilton.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781038728517
Format: Paperback
Publication: 2023
Ages: 15+
Themes: Young Adult, Coming-of-age