5 Minutes for Books — Everyone is Beautiful

by Jennifer Donovan

Today’s book review comes from Dawn, our newest staff reviewer over at 5 Minutes for Books. She invites you to visit her at my thoughts exactly, if you’re a fan of cute kids or random thoughts, which both appear in abundance on her blog.

Have you ever found yourself gulping down the words from a book at an alarming rate because you no longer have any sense of the actual world around you? Have you ever connected with a fictional character in such a way that you think there’s possibly an eerie force at nature that led you to the book in the first place? Have you ever had trouble actually seeing the print on the page because of the massive amount of tears streaming down your face? I can honestly answer yes to all of the above about Katherine Center’s new novel, Everyone is Beautiful.

This is the story of Lanie, the mom to three young boys and the wife to a composer trying to make his mark on the profession, who is literally beginning a new chapter of her life at the onset of the story, moving her family from Texas to Massachusetts to support the aspiring career of her husband. Notice how that description mentions nothing particularly personal about Lanie?

Yeah, so would she, because that’s what she’s realizing her life has become– who she is can only be defined in relation to the people around her. A mother. A wife. That’s the scope of her life, and she has trouble recalling the self she used to be before these new identities took top billing in her life. An epiphany of sorts results, triggered by being asked the worst possible question ever by a stranger, leading her to add “change your life” to the top of her never ending to-do list (Ever been asked when you were due… when you weren’t pregnant anymore? Oh yes, worst possible question ever.) She soon comes to find that she may have changed more than she bargained for.

You could call this novel a treatise on modern day motherhood, parenting and marriage all wrapped up in an entertaining and wholly believable contemporary story. I’m drawn to fictional works that portray women and mothers in all their glory, often struggling with the messes that come with regular life and trying to find their particular path in it all. (Oh yes, I am what I read.) This book definitely had that overarching theme, but there was something else. I’m not even sure that I can put my finger firmly on it, but I’ve read enough novels in my day to know that this one was different.

Perhaps I come to this novel with certain characteristics that made me predisposed to connecting with it– I also have three young children, I also have a love/hate relationship with my own body, I also find myself often wondering what happened to the ‘me’ I used to be… but I think it was even more than that. The voice of Lanie speaks with such ferocity when she describes the fear that mothers live with about the vulnerability of their children’s lives, or the drudgery that can so easily swallow a marriage when you are surrounded by young children, or the physical imperfections that are an undeniable fact of life. Lanie goes beyond simply being a realistic character- as I turned the last pages, I felt as if I lived this story, instead of just spending the last day consuming it in a few extended sittings.

This book will find a very special place on my bookshelf, and it is definitely shooting to the top of the list of the books I (annoyingly) tell my friends they just have to read. Far be it from me to tell you, people whom I’ve never met, what to read… but I think you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. If I’ve sold you on this book, you can head over to 5 Minutes for Books to see the video trailer to get just a tiny taste of what this wonderful novel has to offer.

Please leave a comment to win one of three SIGNED copies of Everyone is Beautiful. We’ll announce the winners in next week’s column. This contest is void where prohibited and subject to our terms and conditions.

We’re thinking of doing some sort of bookclub with this book, so if you are interested, be sure to follow us at twitter.com/5M4B and keep an eye on our feed for details.

The winner of Sixty-Five Roses: A Sister’s Memoir is #32 Denise.

If you did not receive an email from me, please send your full shipping address to me at 5minutesforbooks(at)GmailDOTcom.

Edited by Susan to Add:
You’ll love these videos featuring the book:

“Everyone Is Beautiful” Trailer
Excerpt from “Everyone Is Beautiful”

Email Author    |    Website About Jennifer Donovan

Jennifer Donovan has been a part of the 5 Minutes for Mom team since 2007. She writes product reviews, covers events, and manages the 5 Minutes for Books weekly column and website. She lives in Houston and blogs at Snapshot about life with her family.

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1 Beloved Mama March 23, 2009 at 12:13 am

I would LOVE to win- I’ll head over to the review ;O)

2 Kelli March 23, 2009 at 12:20 am

I need a book that I can get into! This one sounds great!

3 phyllis March 23, 2009 at 12:21 am

i really enjoyed her first book (which i won on a blog…lol) so i’m sure i’ll enjoy this one too! hope i win:-) great review.

4 Robyn March 23, 2009 at 1:08 am

I am reading her first book right now and have heard so many wonderful things about “Everyone is Beautiful” I would love to win a copy.

5 Susan March 23, 2009 at 2:08 am

Isn’t this book AMAZING!!!!

You’ve gotta watch these videos on YouTube


Excerpt from the Book:

6 Amber G March 23, 2009 at 6:15 am

I would really love to win this book!

7 debbie c March 23, 2009 at 6:28 am

I’m always looking for a good book to read and a new author I haven’t read before. Hope I win, but, if not I at least I know a book to go get.

8 Breezy's Mom March 23, 2009 at 6:37 am

Sounds like a good book. Would love to win a copy.

9 Angie March 23, 2009 at 6:44 am

I love to read – this one sounds great!!!

10 Shirley Rogers March 23, 2009 at 6:52 am

Sounds like a great book. I’d love to win it.

11 Heather March 23, 2009 at 7:05 am

I would love this book too! I hope I win!

12 susan varney March 23, 2009 at 7:21 am

love to read -hope to win

13 Jamie March 23, 2009 at 7:44 am

Sounds like a great book!

14 Jamie March 23, 2009 at 7:45 am

I’m a subscriber.

15 rachael s March 23, 2009 at 7:52 am

i have heard so many wonderful things about this book, i would love to win!

16 katie March 23, 2009 at 8:27 am

Loved the trailer, would love to win this book.

17 Sharon March 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

This sounds like a good one! I’d love to read it.

18 she March 23, 2009 at 8:55 am

i’m a book addict and this sounds like a great one! please count me in for the giveaway!

i’m actually giving away 15 books for ubp09 on my site! enter to win!

19 Corinne March 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

I love winning books!!!

20 Jackie March 23, 2009 at 9:13 am

This book sounds like a good one. Following on twitter in case you do a club.

21 Mandee March 23, 2009 at 9:18 am

wow i’ve been looking for a new book and this one sounds great! i would love love love to win it!!

22 Heidi March 23, 2009 at 9:23 am

I’d love to win!

23 randi oaklief March 23, 2009 at 9:27 am

This sounds great!

24 Isabel March 23, 2009 at 9:29 am

Sign me up. Thank you!

25 kris March 23, 2009 at 9:30 am

Sounds like a great book!!!

26 corinne March 23, 2009 at 9:37 am

Sounds great–and I LOVE that cupcake on the cover! I’d love to read it.

27 SANDY March 23, 2009 at 9:39 am

would love to read this

28 Donna Slice March 23, 2009 at 9:39 am

I would be thrilled to win this book. We moms rule.

29 SANDY March 23, 2009 at 9:39 am


30 SANDY March 23, 2009 at 9:39 am


31 Heather J. March 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

I recently recommended this to a friend (without having read it myself) and she LOVED it. I’d love to be able to give her a signed copy, since hers was a library book.

Please enter me. :)

32 Heather J. March 23, 2009 at 10:12 am

and I’m subscribed through Google Reader

33 Mama Zen March 23, 2009 at 10:28 am

This sounds fabulous!

34 Mama Zen March 23, 2009 at 10:29 am

I subscribe to the newsletter.

35 Betsey March 23, 2009 at 10:33 am

getting this book one way or another!

36 Angela C. March 23, 2009 at 10:33 am

I would love to win. Thanks for the giveaway.

accoupons at gmail dot com

37 Michael Capp March 23, 2009 at 10:34 am

I’d love to win!

38 Beth March 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

Sounds like a book every mom should read! An autographed copy would be awesome.

39 Andrea March 23, 2009 at 10:42 am

This one is on my ‘To be read list’! I’d love to win!

40 Tami March 23, 2009 at 10:47 am

Sounds like a great book. I would love to win and read it!

41 Occupation: Mommy March 23, 2009 at 10:56 am

This sounds like a great book!

42 Deb M March 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

This books sound perfect for getting us out of the “cabin fever after long winter at home with kids” mode. Thanks for a great giveaway!

43 Rhonda Struthers March 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

I need a new book and this looks great.

44 Mozi Esmes Mommy March 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

This looks interesting – I’d love to read it!

45 Stacie March 23, 2009 at 11:50 am

I need a new book and it sounds great!

46 Lolli March 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I’d love to win this book! It sounds great!

47 courtney March 23, 2009 at 12:18 pm

this looks like a great book and great idea about a book club! would love to win!

48 Jenn March 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Looks like a GREAT read!

49 Alicia Webster March 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I have three kids also (a three-year-old, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old), and I am shocked at the differnce between the pre-marriage/kids “me” and the post-marriage/kids “me”. When I was single, I used to think poorly about moms who had clearly let themselves go. Now I am the embodiment of that particular sterotype, and I never would have predicted it. I give my family everything that I have, and there is nothing left for me. Do I think that is healthy? No. But the guilt that consumes me when I try to have a little “mommy time” makes it all pointless.
Alicia Webster

50 Megret March 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I’d so love to read this book! Thanks!

51 Megret March 23, 2009 at 1:19 pm

I’m also a subscriber :)

52 Karen B March 23, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I have grand/greatgrandkids now and their moms are going through what I did back in the 60s-70s-80s. Would love to win and pass it on after I’ve read it!

53 Karen March 23, 2009 at 2:17 pm

I can’t tell you the last book I read that wasn’t about parenting! I am very interested in this book and would love to win. If I don’t win, I may just visit Amazon and get it for myself. Thanks for offering this contest and for the chance to learn about a good read.

54 Susan March 23, 2009 at 2:22 pm

This looks like a good book. Thanks!

55 Debbie March 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Please include me in your giveaway.

56 Brandi March 23, 2009 at 3:01 pm

I need a great book to read! I have been struggling finding great books at the library…it is hard for me to pick out a good book from all the masses :)

57 Rhonda March 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Sounds like an excellent read!

58 IE Mommy March 23, 2009 at 3:46 pm

The more I have to read, the happier I am! Wish me luck.

59 Sherry March 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

Sounds like a great read, thanks for the chance to win!

60 C. clemens March 23, 2009 at 4:31 pm

would love to win

61 tracey March 23, 2009 at 5:14 pm

Count me in!

62 kendra March 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm

thanks for this opp!

63 James Jenkins March 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm


64 Krista March 23, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I would love to read this book!

65 Martha C March 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm

I am also the mother of three but my kids are getting older and I have found my way back into my line of work so I have a bit of myself back. I’d love to read this and share it with my book club. Thanks for that opportunity.

66 christopher h March 23, 2009 at 5:59 pm

love to win this

67 Donna R March 23, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I’d love to win this. Thanks for the contest.

68 Jen S. March 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm

would love to win!

69 Jennifer Elliott March 23, 2009 at 7:10 pm

This looks awesome, thanks for the chance!

70 shannon Baas March 23, 2009 at 8:08 pm

neat book.

71 Denise March 23, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I’d love to read it, thanks!

72 Danielle March 23, 2009 at 8:53 pm

This looks like a great read. I’d love to win it!

73 Lucia March 23, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Another great review, Dawn. Would love to win this book…keeping my fingers crossed.

74 Holly March 23, 2009 at 9:23 pm

This sounds like such a great book. I would love to win a copy.

75 Shannon H March 23, 2009 at 9:24 pm

I’d love to read this, so please count me in. Thanks!

76 Jen March 23, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Sounds like a book I could relate to!! :)

77 angie March 23, 2009 at 10:16 pm

sounds like lots of fun from a great book

78 MommyAmy March 23, 2009 at 11:54 pm

I’d love to win! Sounds like a great book! I’m gonna recommend it to my book club. :)

79 Faythe March 24, 2009 at 12:00 am

This sounds like a great read. something I need at this time to bring me back into basic sanity! Is that possible anymore??? I figure laughter & sounds like I will relate to the character will fill the spot!

Everyone is Beautiful sounds just right for me!

thank you !

80 Tanna Moddison March 24, 2009 at 12:04 am

I find myself reading more lately, and this sounds like the perfect book to add to my growing (again) collection! Thank you!

81 Adrian Lamont March 24, 2009 at 1:07 am

This is great, count me in.

82 Brook March 24, 2009 at 2:52 am

This book looks wonderful, I would love to win!

83 Meredith Rogen March 24, 2009 at 3:35 am

I heard this is an amazing book, I’m looking forward to reading it!

84 edj March 24, 2009 at 7:45 am

Ah yes. I can agree with that title for everyone but myself. I’d love to read this. Please enter me. Thanks.

85 Alice C March 24, 2009 at 7:46 am

sounds great

86 Nicole March 24, 2009 at 8:23 am

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

87 Nicole March 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

i subscribe to your feed.

88 Nicole March 24, 2009 at 8:24 am

i have your button in my sidebar.

89 Alexia March 24, 2009 at 9:13 am

I’d love to win a copy! It sounds like a great story.

90 Teal March 24, 2009 at 10:04 am

This book sounds like just the thing I need right now! Great review!

91 Mary Ward March 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

I read her first book and just loved it. I’d really love a copy of this one!

92 tanya March 24, 2009 at 10:57 am

This sounds like a wonderful book!


93 Susan C March 24, 2009 at 11:10 am

You have definitely sold me. I would love to read this book, it sounds like just what I need right now!

94 Linda Chaput March 24, 2009 at 11:16 am

Thanks for the contest.I hope i win this one.I am a subscriber.

95 Nancy March 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm

This sounds wonderful, please enter me!

96 Angela J March 24, 2009 at 1:30 pm

I’m always looking for the next book to read.

97 Tarah March 24, 2009 at 1:53 pm

This sounds like it should be my next read!

98 Susan Smith March 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm

sounds like a good book

99 Marla March 24, 2009 at 4:11 pm

This sounds like a really good book I would love to read. Please enter me in the contest. Thanks!


100 Gina Stratos March 24, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Really does sounds like a great book

101 Jason Nickolay March 24, 2009 at 5:17 pm

This looks like a great read. Thanks for the chance

102 Becky March 24, 2009 at 8:01 pm

This book sounds wonderful. I would love to read it. Great giveaway – signed copy! Thank you!

103 Ellen C. March 24, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I’d love to give this book a read. Thanks for the chance.

104 Djp March 24, 2009 at 8:32 pm

great, i need a new read

105 Christina G. March 24, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway!

106 Gabriel J. March 24, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Please, enter me, great prize!!!

107 Faythe March 24, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I love your review.
I am a new subscriber to the e-newletter.

108 Evelyn March 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

looks good

109 SHARON March 25, 2009 at 3:17 pm

i’d l♥ve to win this book .. sounds like a great read!

110 mary bailey March 25, 2009 at 9:39 pm

I’ve often wondered if I was alone in marveling in the beauty of my soft, post-baby, squishy belly. This books sounds like one I will adore. I’d love to win it!

111 Marianna March 26, 2009 at 11:32 am

Looks like a great book, I’d love to win!

112 victoria lynch March 26, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I just read my last new book and this looks like one that I would enjoy

thanks for the giveaway!!!!!!!!

113 quiltingreader March 26, 2009 at 1:33 pm

Sounds like a good book.

114 Terra Heck March 26, 2009 at 5:09 pm

I’d like to read this book. Thanks.

115 Vicky Boackle March 26, 2009 at 8:10 pm

i would like to read this.

116 Pamela S March 27, 2009 at 1:06 am

Thanks so much for the giveaway!! I love all kinds of books and would love to read this.

117 Steve Scott March 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

I need to feed my wife’s reading addiction.

118 Sarah March 27, 2009 at 11:25 am

enter me!

119 Jessica March 27, 2009 at 6:20 pm

This sounds like a great book from what I have read on it. Would love to read this one.


120 Christina March 27, 2009 at 6:42 pm

This sounds like a great book and a cautionary tale (that all women should remember) about giving to others too much and losing one’s sense of self in the process.

121 Sara Amos March 27, 2009 at 7:46 pm

This would be a great book to share with my sister who is a high school English teacher. I would love to read it also

122 Jean F March 27, 2009 at 7:47 pm

Its sad that women spend so much time judging themselves by unobtainable standards-of beauty, accomplishment…

123 Bryanna P. March 28, 2009 at 12:25 am

Awesome book… =D

124 Molly Capel March 28, 2009 at 12:32 am

I would love to read this book. It sounds really different than what I normally read.

125 Kristen Hendricks March 28, 2009 at 2:52 am

I would love to win this book so I can read it. It sounds like the type of book that I could relate to so much. This is a great giveaway. Thanks.

126 J Chaborek March 28, 2009 at 3:51 am

We just got a new condo, would love to read this while at the side of the pool. Thanks for the giveaway!

127 Diane Baum March 28, 2009 at 8:20 am

sounds like an interesting read

128 Amber B March 28, 2009 at 9:06 am

Reading unlocks the mind? ambpool(at)hotmail.com

129 veronica sandberg March 28, 2009 at 10:30 am

want to win this

130 Samantha Miller March 28, 2009 at 10:30 am

This book sounds really good. Thanks!

131 Hesper F March 28, 2009 at 11:00 am

Looks like a fantastic read!

132 KarenPr March 28, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Great contest, please enter me.

133 KarenPr March 28, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I’m also a newsletter subscriber. Thanks.

134 Ellie W March 28, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me.

135 nancy waychoff March 28, 2009 at 1:47 pm

my 12 yr old has too read 10 books a month for her reading class i hope this will be one of them

136 Karen Gonyea March 28, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Count me in :)

137 Ed Nemmers March 28, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Great book cover!

138 Brenda Park March 28, 2009 at 4:05 pm

This sounds like a great book, and your review was awesome too. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

139 Belinda Shaw March 28, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Your review really peaked my interest in this book! I’d really enjoy reading it!

140 Terrisa Swift March 28, 2009 at 4:46 pm

I would love to win, never one anything

141 shawna f March 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

Would love to win!

142 nancy waychoff March 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

i like he book cover

143 Brenda S. March 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm

This book sounds like a good one. Thanks!

144 Candie L March 28, 2009 at 8:02 pm

I have been disappointed lately with the books I have read. I need something that will absolutely capture me and make me feel lost. Thank you

145 Kathy March 28, 2009 at 8:14 pm

looks like a great book

146 Kathy March 28, 2009 at 8:14 pm


147 Wendy Wallach March 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

always looking for a new,good read.

madamerkf at aol dot com

148 Janice Wright March 28, 2009 at 8:17 pm

This looks like an excellent book. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway!

149 Stephanie March 28, 2009 at 8:39 pm

This sounds like a good read!!

150 Ashley March 28, 2009 at 10:32 pm

i would love to win this! it looks like a great book to read

151 Rachel Newman March 28, 2009 at 11:07 pm

I love losing the real world and entering the world in a book. Thanks for this opportunity!


152 Betty C March 29, 2009 at 12:06 am

I’d love to win this. I need new reading material.

153 Renee G March 29, 2009 at 12:59 am

I’d love to read this.


154 Robert Moseley March 29, 2009 at 2:25 am

This sounds like a good one!

155 Chrysa March 29, 2009 at 2:35 am

Looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

156 Donna C. March 29, 2009 at 7:51 am

Looks like a great book.

157 Lily Kwan March 29, 2009 at 9:31 am

Please enter me into the contest. Thanks!

158 R Hicks March 29, 2009 at 10:46 am

Looks like a great read!

159 Cassandra March 29, 2009 at 11:13 am

I would love to win–thanks!

160 Veronica Garrett March 29, 2009 at 12:01 pm

This sounds like a great book. I would love to win it.

161 Jack Davis March 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I really want to win this book for my daughter who loves to read! And who know she may share it with me! Thanks

162 Gina Benway March 29, 2009 at 1:10 pm

thanks for the contest. I just love getting into new books!

163 Timothy Sternberg March 29, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I would Love to win.

164 Paula J hephner March 29, 2009 at 1:51 pm

runnin out of stuff to read, it sounds wonderful!

165 Renee We March 29, 2009 at 1:52 pm

It is an ever changing world that we live in. We change too.

166 Marcy Strahan March 29, 2009 at 2:30 pm


167 Meghan March 29, 2009 at 2:45 pm

This book sounds simply fabulous!!!!!

168 Cheryl F. (The Lucky Ladybug) March 29, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I’d love to read this :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

169 dorothy l March 29, 2009 at 3:09 pm

sounds like a great book

170 Beverly M March 29, 2009 at 4:49 pm

This sounds like a book, I would enjoy reading. Thanks for having the contest!

171 Heather March 29, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Sounds like a great book!

172 amy h March 29, 2009 at 8:22 pm

This book sounds wonderful!! WOW!! Thanks for the chance to win!!

173 Mandie McBride March 29, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I would love to read this one! Sounds really good.

174 Esther March 29, 2009 at 8:33 pm

I would love to read this book!

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