Every Exquisite Thing

by Matthew Quick

Read time: about 6 minutes

Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.’ The quote from ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ forms the basis of the novel. ‘Every Exquisite Thing’ is skillfully woven into a well knit story. Matthew Quick can be traced back to the Oscar winning movie ‘The Silver Linings Playbook. The author has manged to write another exquisite book and given something for us to remember him by once again.

Cover page

Pen scribbling is an old technique which is used in too many book covers. This novel also consists of the same. The blue and white combination is not so bad but still keeps you wishing that something different was tried for the cover art. The cover does not ask for its place on the book shelf. That job is entirely left to the story inside.


The book is a coming of age novel. The story is of kids who are targeted by bullies for their individualism.

Nan, or Nanette is how she prefers to be called is the star player of the soccer team. She is a great kid to her parents. She does everything that anyone expects out of her until she decides not to. That is when hell breaks loose over her head. During the transition she is introduced to Alex Redmer.

Alex is another child with individualistic talent. Alex is a poet. He is a great friend, little eccentric. He also stands up for what he believes in and that has helped him to be out behind bars and reform institution. Alex may remind many of ‘Theodore Finch’ in ‘All The Bright Places’. His temperament is the most attractive feature of him. A character girls are going to love.

Wrigley is someone who plays the most important part in the story. Wrigley is the author of ‘The Bubblegum Reaper’. He, in his not so good times, years ago, wrote this book called ‘The Bubblegum Reaper’. The book became an instant hit but due to some reason he pulled it out of print. Wrigley since then is trying to make friends with intelligent teenagers.

The characters are not very innovative. One may have come across these characters earlier in literature. But the story that binds them together and circumstances that they face makes one want to keep reading the story.


‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ has put the author in spotlight. ‘Every Exquisite Thing’ is a short length novel that gives the taste of his writing. The plot is the highlight of this book.

The book is about a book called ‘The Bubblegum Reaper’ which is handed over to different teenagers at different times. They all try to contact the author of the book since they want to find out what happens at the beginning of the end of the book. The cliffhanger drives them at the door of the author where they come across each other.

All the kids face the same problem of bullying in their own schools. One tries to thrust her real self on others, losing herself in the process whereas the other tries to fight the world with his poetry and fists.

The book talks at length about the problem of bullying in schools of America , which can be viewed in any other schools too. The issue is well spoken for in the book. It somewhere feels like a social weapon. There is also a revolution-like prick in the book. It is meant as a call out to all the parents and the education community.

It is a quick paced story fast enough to keep you on your toes. The end may leave the readers unquenched, like ‘The Bubblegum Reaper’ left many others. The parallel which has been drawn with the book is evident. The readers who look for a great story may not be very happy towards the end but those who want to understand a book and discover threads in the middle are going to appreciate it.


The language in the book is quite relatable. Readers who are still in school are going to identify with the book unlike books by John Green.

Good points

The characters in the book are relatable. The writing is like the words of a mind reader. It follows the temperament of the characters accurately which keeps the reader interested in the book throughout. The philosophy which it tries to convey is light and easy to understand. There are some beautiful lines in the book which are worth quoting.

Bad points

The cover page is unappealing. It looks all the more uninteresting on the kindle version. The story ends abruptly with readers left unquenched. This maybe deliberate but it annoying too.

‘Answering that question really isn’t the point, I decide as I leave the ocean tonight. I’ve got to find out what happens to Nanette O’Hare.’


Overall the book is a good one-time read. It is a good gateway to other young adult books which follow identical storyline.

### Who do I recommend it to

Those who enjoy a book with a strong message and some good philosophy, this is a perfect pick.

Quotable quotes

“What happens to Wrigley?” I asked. “I have to know. Because Wrigley is me. And it just can’t end like that. It. Just. Can’t.”

“I bet no one ever told you this truth before, so here it is for the price of a cup of coffee.” He took a sip and then stared into my eyes before saying, “just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.”

“Far too often, people are woefully predictable. And I know many things. It’s a curse. Here’s something else I know : You are not doomed to be your parents. You can break the cycle. You can be whoever you want to be. But you will pay price. Your parents and everyone else will punish you if you choose to be you and not them. That’s the price of your freedom.”

“True friends are better than novels! Fake friends, on the other hand- well, I’d rather smash open my skull with a solid-gold Bible than endure the slow poison of a fake friend.”

“Well, there’s a type of person who says there are certain types of people and then tries to be one type or the other. And then there are others who say bananas to the whole concept of types and won’t allow themselves to be filled neatly away under some sort of ridiculously limiting category.”

“Lonely people typically can’t stomach treachery, and that’s another problem. They tend to tell the truth and fight fair. So we need art and music and poetry for. The lonely people to rally around.”

Not even jail could make him put a mask and lie for everyone else. It was madness, plain and simple, but alluring sort. It was like standing next to a great fire that dances and warms and illuminates everything-but it also threatens to consume you in the process.

“People enter our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.”

“I love you, Nanette O’Hare,” Alex says. “Someday you will love me too-enough to say it back. Read the poems and letters.”

Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic.

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com