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Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy

September 14, 2011

From the publisher’s website
Rebecca is young, lost, and beautiful. A gifted artist, she seeks solace and inspiration in the Mediterranean heat of Athens—trying to understand who she is and how she can love without fear.
George has come to Athens to learn ancient languages after growing up in New England boarding schools and Ivy League colleges. He has no close relationships with anyone and spends his days hunched over books or wandering the city in a drunken stupor.
Henry is in Athens to dig. An accomplished young archaeologist, he devotedly uncovers the city’s past as a way to escape his own, which holds a secret that not even his doting parents can talk about.
…And then, with a series of chance meetings, Rebecca, George, and Henry are suddenly in flight, their lives brighter and clearer than ever, as they fall headlong into a summer that will forever define them in the decades to come.

I had never read anything by Simon Van Booy but after seeing countless glowing reviews all over the blogosphere, I knew I had to read Everything Beautiful Began After. However, with such a wonderful title and beautiful cover, I was a little worried that the story itself would be a bit lacklustre (shallow, I know… what can I say?) But, let me tell you, it sure is a book that captures and holds your attention.

There’s something about Van Booy’s writing that immediately draws you in and sets a very specific mood. I loved that – I didn’t have to read a few sentences or paragraphs to get into the story, I just opened the book and there I was in Athens with Rebecca, George, and Henry. And then I wasn’t able to put it down again. I was reading on the train on my way home from work one day and looked up to see that we were at my stop and decided just to miss my stop so I could finish the scene I was in the middle of. That has never happened before. I mean, I’ve definitely missed my stop before because of reading, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.

All the reviews I saw before reading the book stated that they didn’t want to say much about the plot because they didn’t want to give anything away – and I’m going to stick with that, too. I went through a range of emotions reading Everything Beautiful Began After, from nostalgic happiness to punched in the gut grief, and that wouldn’t have been possible if I had known exactly what I was in for when I started. And it’s those intense emotions that’s going to make Everything Beautiful Began After stay with me for quite some time.

My rating: 9/10

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2011 12:59 pm

    Oh wow. A book that makes you feel all that must be good. Great review.

    • September 25, 2011 2:12 pm

      Thanks! It might be a bit too emotion-packed for me to read again, but I highly recommend it.

  2. September 14, 2011 7:02 pm

    Need to get my hands on this one. It’s been on my TBR shelf for a tiny bit. Glad to know you loved it! Great review!

    • September 25, 2011 2:11 pm

      You already have it on your shelf and haven’t read it? How can that be?? ;) *As I look over at my overflowing TBR shelves….*

      I hope you can get to it soon, it’s fantastic.

  3. September 15, 2011 5:32 pm

    I’m usually not one to gravitate toward romance, but I’ve traveled to Athens… so this one is calling my name after reading your review.

    • September 25, 2011 2:10 pm

      I wouldn’t consider this a romance, although it looks like it would be from the cover. It’s more of a dealing with past kind of novel.

  4. September 16, 2011 3:07 pm

    i completely agree with you! i absolutely love van booy’s writing. i don’t know what it is about his writing, but i couldn’t put the book down after i started reading it. i’m glad you enjoyed this book so much!

  5. September 17, 2011 8:14 pm

    I love the story about you on the train! You’re so right about Van Booy’s ability to instantly transport you into his story. I liked this one, but I LOVED his short stories — and this from a self-proclaimed short story skeptic! I think it’s that same ability, he can instantaneously get you into a short story in a way I’ve never experienced before. I’m glad you liked this one!

    • September 25, 2011 2:07 pm

      If you liked his short stories even more than the full novel, then I really really really need to read them! Just added The Secret Lives of People in Love to my to read list.

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