Review of The Epic Story of Every Living Thing

The Epic Story of Every Living Thing The Epic Story of Every Living Thing
by Deb Caletti
High School     Labyrinth Road/Random  416 pp.         g
9/22     978-0-593-48550-7     $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-48551-4    $21.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-48553-8    $10.99

Without knowing the identity of the man who was her sperm donor, seventeen-year-old Harper feels that “half of her is a blank.” Then she meets Dario, her half-brother, and learns that there are forty-two half-siblings…and that they’ve located the man himself. So Harper, Dario, and two other half-siblings travel to Hawaii to meet Beau Zane, where, to Harper’s relief, Beau and his mother welcome them. Beau teaches them how to dive, his passion, which quickly becomes Harper’s passion, too, and when their beloved diving spot is threatened, Harper and her new family feel compelled to try to preserve it. Caletti ( One Great Lie , rev. 9/21) captures our collective anxieties (the story is set in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic) as well as the constant intrusion of electronic devices, especially the numbing, manufactured perfection of social-media “squares.” The natural world is offered as the antidote: when Harper sees a jellyfish on her first dive, she is “so there, so present in this profound moment, that if you reminded her again that she once felt empty, she’d hardly believe it.” The summer is full of similar moments of wonder, in which Harper feels connected to Beau, her newfound siblings, history, and “every living thing”—including herself. A rich, contemplative story about looking beneath the (literal and figurative) surface to find love, purpose, and joy.

From the September/October 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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