I received this novel in the mail from Random House/Ballantine Books. I read it in about 2 days. It is a short, concise, and touching look at parenting with young children and marriage. I really responded to the main character Elena. She moved from her hometown of Houston to Cambridge, Massachusetts so her husband could pursue his music career/education. She was stuck in a tiny apartment with three small boys and didn't know a soul. Eventually, she meets people including an old high school acquaintance and she settles into life. She wonders how she ever became the frumpy, toddler-toting housewife she was and sets out to improve herself by joining a gym and taking a photography class. Along the way, she wonders what happened to her marriage and where it is going. As the reader, we are treated to flashback glimpses of the start of their relationship in college.
I really enjoyed this novel. It is very light, but the characters, especially Elena and Nora (their older neighbor), are rich in personality. I was with Elena every step of the way understanding the horrors of motherhood (her child biting, pooping on a dinner host's carpet, children with no filters, etc.) and the good side of it. I also fully understood and sympathized with her need to be artistic and her love of photography. I love photography myself and the things she thought were right in line with my own thinking. This would make for an excellent vacation read or when you're in the mood to escape. It's extremely short at 233 pages and you can whip through it in no time. I was very satisfied at the end. Katherine Center has also written a book entitled The Bright Side of Disaster that I think I will pick up soon. Everyone is Beautiful comes to a bookshelf near you on February 17, 2009.