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In Everyone is Beautiful Katherine Center creates an enjoyable and relaxing story, which focuses on protagonist Elena’s quest for self-exploration and growth as she navigates the serious and amusing aspects of everyday life, guiding herself and the reader to approach things in new ways. Center creates a familiar and likable young mother and wife who tries her best to find balance and purpose but struggles to accept and love the person she is instead of the person she wants to be. Through Elena, the author asks the reader to consider how thought processes, viewpoints and attitudes can alter contexts in which people view the world. Both the reader and Elena gain insight as the story progresses; they learn to separate the things that seem important from the people and ideas that truly help individuals and families grow and prosper with time.

The novel begins with a distraught, overwhelmed and confused narrator who is uncertain about how to handle her thoughts and emotions about the issues that make up her everyday life, which shows the reader how the thought processes and emotions of a person in stress change her perceptions of herself and the world around her. As Elena provides her point-of-view about areas of her life where she feels as though she is failing, such as parenting, marriage, self-esteem, and self-fulfillment, the reader knows the feeling. As her story continues and she discusses her ideas about needing to change her looks or her parenting lacking the finesse of other mothers, she starts to realize that she is negatively biased about her personal qualities. She explains, for example, that her husband Peter, looks at her with love, so he sees beauty in her that she does not. Instead of trying to improve her life by adapting her looks and personality to fit an ideal, Elena shows the reader that approaching her flaws as her husband does makes her experiences more pleasant.  Elena’s own attempts to understand and accept who she is, are a turning point in her life, which make the reader think about his or her own thoughts and actions. Through Elena, the author provides the reader significant messages about the power of the mind to impact self-satisfaction.

The author depicts Elena’s transitions from complete helplessness to more self-aware and secure to show the reader the power thoughts and emotions play in determining a person’s unhappiness or contentedness in life. At first, Elena, like most people, thinks she needs to change who she is to find satisfaction. The reader is both intrigued and saddened by the familiar comparisons and thoughts of shame that fill Elena’s mind throughout the day as she measures herself next to others in all areas of her life and finds she never matches up. But the more Elena makes comparisons, she recognizes judgement is futile. For example, she observes, all children have unique personalities, so parents should not judge each other’s parenting styles. The more Elena makes similar conclusions, both she and the reader feel happier and more contented about their own individual characteristics. In the end, the reader is pleased to conclude that everyone is different and that makes them beautiful.

Center uses Everyone is Beautiful to discuss how we actively choose, often without realizing, to make our lives better or worse. She writes about imperfections and uncertainties in the narrator, which connect to the heart of the reader via his or her own feelings and experiences and make the novel memorable and pleasurable. By the end of the novel, the reader sees how Elena has changed; her life is better because she is okay with being her best self. As a reader, it is gratifying to find that the things we find challenging or stressful in life can take on new meaning when considered in another manner.

Final Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars