Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Riley Rose is not what you would call a "happy camper." Her father and the woman she calls her "stepmother in training" have decided to ship her off for a week to a Christian camp. They want to have a little vacation getaway, and Riley's recent less-than-perfect behavior is just the thing they need to justify sending her off to the desert for an attitude adjustment.

Ever since her mother died suddenly of cancer, Riley has struggled to keep herself together. Overweight and rebellious, she has used crazy hairstyles, suggestive clothing, and troublesome behavior to mask her real feelings. With a bold and sassy exterior, she is able to hide the fact that she misses her mother more than she thought possible.

When Riley arrives at Spirit Ranch, she can't believe her bad luck. No cell phones, computers, or means of communicating with the outside world for seven days. Most of the kids at the camp are under the age of twelve, leaving Riley in a small group of teens who are veterans of the camp experience. She declares herself an atheist and is determined to avoid not only Bible related activities but also all physical challenges, social interaction, and friendships of any kind.

In the odd mix of campers, is Dylan, a wheelchair bound paraplegic. Still bitter and angry because of some accident that robbed him of the use of his legs, Dylan spends as much time avoid camp activities as Riley which results in the two spending increasing time together. Both have plans of escape that end in disappointment, leaving them with one more thing in common.

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL takes readers into a week in the lives of Riley and Dylan. As they share their personal baggage, a friendship develops and an unbreakable trust they don't feel with anyone else. Riley's natural cockiness and Dylan's negativity may irritate the camp staff, but will no doubt intrigue readers as they bend and break the rules to gain a bit of freedom and release. This irreverent week at Spirit Ranch is definitely a worthwhile read.

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