Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman (17)

I never read anything by Danielle Younge-Ullman.  I was surprised to feel so connected to her characters and the place.

When seventeen year old Ingrid Burke arrives at Peak Wilderness Camp, it is not what she is expecting. For starters, there is no physical camp, with log cabins, a fire pit for sing-alongs, and a cozy mess hall serving up macaroni and beef.  While there is adventure, it’s more of the figure-it-out-or-perish variety.  It turns out also that Ingrid’s mother, Margot-Sophia has forced her to attend in exchange for agreeing to allow her to go off to music school in London. All the campers seem strange. She later finds out why.

Among the other campers, there’s a princess girl hoping to prove she’s worthy of regaining custody of her baby. She is a former drug addict and occasional prostitute atoning for her behavior at her family’s behest.  There is also a gay boy who hopes the experience will allow him to feel closer to God and resist temptation and sin thereby allowing him to be accepted back into the fold of his hyper-conservative, religious family.

Ingrid spends much of the novel trying to figure out why her mother decided to put her through hell before allowing her to pursue her musical ambitions. She has a few theories why this is, mainly that her mother is simply trying to equip Ingrid with the ability to take a beating and get back up. But this feels like real punishment.  This is quite a betraying way for a mother to threat her daughter.

Perhaps it’s because her mother’s career came to a screeching halt when she was an opera singer. She struggled physically to sing at such a high pitch and developed throat problems that stopped her from singing.

The rest of the novel takes the form of letters that Ingrid writes to her mother during her stay at Peak Wilderness. The letters are raw and honest and they show how a complicated relationships between mother and daughter can be.

Ingrid is a gem of a character in this book. Her strength and courage is inspiring and awesome!  She always had to be the strong one. Even living with her mother was hard because her mother was very sensitive. Her mother was often in bed for no apparent reason.

This is a story that will make you think and inspire you to be stronger. It is written for young teens and young adults and I think it is much more relevant to girls than boys.

I loved this story from beginning to end!

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About irenesroth

I am a freelance and academic writer. I am currently writing a book called `Fearless Freelance Writers`. Please look out for it soon on this blog.
This entry was posted in Author from Ontario, Fiction, Friendship, Integrity, Kindness, Lives of girls, Lives of Women, Mother-daughter relationships, Uncategorized, YA novel. Bookmark the permalink.

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