In Matthew Quick's Every Exquisite Thing, we meet Nanette, a junior in high school who has just been introduced by her favorite teacher to a life-changing book. This book is out of print, and has been almost since it was first published decades earlier. Nanette is eventually able to meet the author of this book, a man with the unlikely name of Booker, and become friends with him. When she presses him for more details about the book, answers to questions about the ending (who among us hasn't wanted to do the same?), he explains that he simply can't tell her.
"We can't know for sure."
"The story ends."
"But you could write more."
"No, I can't. There's no more to write."
"Just the way it is. The story ends where it ends."
I think we can all understand Nanette's frustration.
Besides obscure poets and her own independence, Booker also introduces Nanette to Alex, a boy angry at the bullies of the world and determined to defeat them. Nanette struggles to know what she should do with her life as high school graduation approaches. Should she be and do what she likes or what makes everyone around her comfortable and happy? And what exactly is it that she likes?
This book is full of teenage angst about how we become whom we are meant to be. It was a really good book, but I can't precisely say that I liked it, but I think maybe I did. This is exactly the kind of book that I can see developing a following. High school students will love it, especially if they aren't overly concerned with being like everyone else. This book was sad and thought-provoking and I think the dramatic teenaged me would really have found a lot of meaning in it. I think I would have read it multiple times and I think it might have prompted me to question what I wanted in life and the direction I wanted it to take. I think that would have been a good thing.