EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL, Mira T. Lee's debut novel, is a fascinating story told from multiple points of view. The various characters, as well as the switches between first and third person, add depth to the novel. It also allows the reader to see the characters and their relationships through different perspectives.
The novel focuses on two sisters, Miranda and Lucia, and their devoted but strained relationship. Miranda is the older sister, and she has always felt responsible for Lucia. So responsible that she has frequently sacrificed her own happiness and peace of mind to focus on taking care of her younger sister. Lucia suffers from a mental illness, and it's Miranda's insistence that she take care of herself and do as the doctors say that continues to fracture their relationship. There are times when Miranda meddles too much in Lucia's life, and there are also times when she fails to interfere when she should. All of this builds resentment in Lucia. Lucia's mental instability not only tests her bond with Miranda, but with everyone else she has a relationship with - including her first husband, her boyfriend, and her young daughter. Despite her mental illness, the voices that she hears, and the pills that help but don't cure, Lucia attempts to live her life to the fullest until that moment when she accidently (or perhaps on purpose) meets her end.
Lee's mastery of language paints a beautiful picture as she tells the story of Lucia's life and her mental illness. She brings to life the settings (New York City, Ecuador, Switzerland, and Minnesota), placing the readers in each location with vivid descriptions that bring the places to life. She also masterfully portrays Lucia's mental illness (part schizophrenia, park bipolar disorder) in a way that shows it from Lucia's (internal) perspective as well as from the (external) perspectives of Miranda and others. But what Lee really does is show the relationships between the main characters - the devotion, the struggles, and the ups and the downs - and how these relationships affect the characters' lives and shapes who they are.