5 Minutes for Books — Everyone is Beautiful

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”


  1. says

    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.

  2. says

    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.

  3. debbie c says

    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.

  4. says

    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!

  5. says

    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. :)

  6. Deb M says

    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!

  7. Alicia Webster says

    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

  8. Karen B says

    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!

  9. Karen says

    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.

  10. says

    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 :)

  11. Martha C says

    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.

  12. Faythe says

    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 !

  13. Tanna Moddison says

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

  14. says

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

  15. Becky says

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

  16. says

    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!

  17. victoria lynch says

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

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

  18. Pamela S says

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

  19. Jessica says

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


  20. says

    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.

  21. Sara Amos says

    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

  22. Jean F says

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

  23. Molly Capel says

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

  24. Kristen Hendricks says

    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.

  25. J Chaborek says

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

  26. nancy waychoff says

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

  27. Brenda Park says

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

  28. Belinda Shaw says

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

  29. Candie L says

    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

  30. Jack Davis says

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