The crisp and pretty domestic image on the cover suggests a light domestic tale, but the description of a relationship not quite living up to its early promise hints at something deeper and more meaningful.
As students, Lanie and Peter fell madly in love. In a series of flashbacks Katherine Center gives us insights into their youthful romance, from the initial glimpses across a classroom to the "first of a lifetime of kisses". But Lanie confides "Here's what I need to confess about Peter and me: We were not exactly in love anymore. After fifteen years and three children together, we were often other places besides in it. We were under it sometimes. Or above it... or in arm's reach of it.... but not in it. Not lately."
It's a familiar situation - Lanie is exhausted by caring for three energetic boys under the age of four. She's still carrying a lot of baby-weight, wearing sweatpants and Peter's old shirts, grabbing a sandwich and yogurt on the go. Peter is teaching piano lessons to supplement his university teaching, and although suffering from writer's block, he's also trying to study and compose. They're both tired, stressed and frustrated - hardly a recipe for romance.
Katherine Center manages to create a cast of characters and a range of situations that you can't help but relate to. There are laugh out loud moments, and grab the tissues moments. Most importantly, you care what happens, which is so often the crux of a good book. At a time when I'm doing my best to clear out books, Everything is Beautiful has turned out to be a keeper.