Blog Tour: The Epic Story of Every Living Thing by Deb Caletti

THE EPIC STORY OF EVERY LIVING THING

by

DEB CALETTI

Young Adult Contemporary

Publisher: Labyrinth Road

Pages: 416 pages

Publishing Date: September 13, 2022

SYNOPSIS:

From the award-winning author of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart comes a gorgeous and fiercely feminist young adult novel. When a teen travels to Hawaii to track down her sperm donor father, she discovers the truth about him, about the sunken shipwreck that’s become his obsession, and most of all about herself.

Harper Proulx has lived her whole life with unanswered questions about her anonymous sperm donor father. She’s convinced that without knowing him, she can’t know herself. When a chance Instagram post connects Harper to a half sibling, that connection yields many more and ultimately leads Harper to uncover her father’s identity.

So, fresh from a painful breakup and still reeling with anxiety that reached a lifetime high during the pandemic, Harper joins her newfound half siblings on a voyage to Hawaii to face their father. The events of that summer, and the man they discover—a charismatic deep-sea diver obsessed with solving the mystery of a fragile sunken shipwreck—will force Harper to face some even bigger questions: Who is she? Is she her DNA, her experiences, her successes, her failures? Is she the things she loves—or the things she hates? Who she is in dark times? Who she might become after them? 

Content Warning: anxiety & social media/phone addiction

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REVIEW:

5 stars!

A thoroughly satisfying, modern coming-of-age tale,

full of the discovery of self and wonder of the real world around us.

What an amazing and satisfying coming of age and facing your fears story! The plot follows the main character, Harper Proulx, as she determinedly creates and maintains a “nature girl in symmetry with her environment” persona. It’s an elaborate masquerade, though, as Harper is terrified of everything, thanks to her overwhelming exposure to “the sky is falling” content on social media. The stress of maintaining her brand and FOMO is compounded by her helicopter mom’s relentless push for safety and academic perfection.

This never-ending cycle of “keeping up” doesn’t allow Harper to share her real insecurities, her inner self, or her secret need to find out about her father or her discovery that she’s got half-siblings with her faithful boyfriend, Ezra. This unknown conflicts with her perception of her perfect persona. I loved that her need to know trumps her need for safety and leads to adventure and a quirky “found” family. I loved all of the siblings’ reawakening to the wonders of life, and the setting in Maui is irresistible, full of mystery and beauty.

Told from Harper’s point of view, readers are privy to her thoughts and motivations. I was subtly absorbed into her preoccupation with her social media presence; honestly, it felt normal; she was so effortlessly good at it. In fact, I initially felt Ezra was being overly sensitive. It didn’t feel so all-encompassing until it was missing. I had been sucked into Harper’s life that completely. But the story changes focus to the real people around Harper, and so does she. It is mind-boggling how easily one can shut out what’s right before your eyes and become distracted and absorbed by the allure and massive volume of a “created” online world.

I truly enjoyed the main characters: Harper, Ezra, Dario, Wyatt, Simone, and their new “found” family, including Beau and Greer. I loved that more siblings were occasionally revealed as the story went on. I think it must be a universal desire or need to discover such connections with the many anonymous others out there, hence, the popularity of genetic matching services. And frankly, I could relate to Melissa Proulx, her fears and desires for her child. I can’t believe she wouldn’t hop on a plane to Maui during all this, though.

Author Deb Caletti has crafted a thoroughly modern tale of discovery: discovering self, identity, and wonder. She captures perfectly that blasé feeling, that sense of inurement to what’s going on in the world because of the constant bombardment of news, information overload, and the overwhelming number of calls to action. Her reigniting of wonder felt so pure and simple and joyful.

I recommend THE EPIC STORY OF EVERY LIVING THING to readers of young adult fiction, especially those who enjoy the phenomenon of online life and influencers, the idea of the hunt for DNA relatives, scuba diving, and the around-the-world travels of clipper ships during the mid-1800s.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Deb Caletti is the award-winning and critically acclaimed author of nearly twenty books for adults and young adults, including Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a finalist for the National Book Award, and A Heart in a Body in the World, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.  Her books have also won the Josette Frank Award for Fiction, the Washington State Book Award, and numerous other state awards and honors, and she was a finalist for the PEN USA Award. She lives with her family in Seattle.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Contemporary fiction, Young adult

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