Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined – Danielle Younge-Ullman

This book blindsided me. It was beautiful and so, so sad. It took me a while to get invested, but once it hits its groove, it was hard to put down.


Wild meets The Breakfast Club in this story of a girl who must survive an extreme wilderness experience to prove to her mother that she has the strength to pursue her dreams.

Ingrid traveled all over Europe with her opera star mother, Margot-Sophia. Life was beautiful and bright, and every day soared with music.

Ingrid is on a summertime wilderness survival trek for at-risk teens: addicts, runaways, and her. She’s fighting to survive crushing humiliations, physical challenges that push her to her limits, and mind games that threaten to break her.

When the curtain fell on Margot-Sophia’s singing career, they buried the past and settled into a small, painfully normal life. But Ingrid longed to let the music soar again. She wanted it so much that, for a while, nothing else mattered.

Ingrid is never going to make it through this summer if she can’t figure out why she’s here . . . and why the music really stopped.


This book blindsided me. It was beautiful and so, so sad. It took me a while to get invested, but once it hits its groove, it was hard to put down.

When Ingrid gets to Peak Wilderness, you can tell something is a little off with her story. It’s hard to understand what’s wrong, and the ax references are definitely concerning. Trust me, her actions and reactions do make perfect sense. The moment the title is uttered in the story, you realize that something is really wrong.

It’s hard understand why people do what they do when they have so much to live for. Margot-Sophia Lalonde lost the thing that saved her, but by then she had Ingrid. And then she found Andreas. She cared for them and did absolutely everything she could for them. Isn’t that enough?

Peak Wilderness sounded horrendous at first. I’m trying to imagine how I’d handle that kind of situation, and it’s NOT pretty. But by the time Ingrid made it through and began reflecting on the experience, I almost felt reminiscent of it as well. Reach your peak. Getting through a physical, mental, and emotional struggle will make you stronger. I’m sure those manufactured moments around the campfire and true tranquility found while canoeing along the rapids are memories of a lifetime. I still don’t see myself ever going on this sort of pilgrimage though.

Related Reading

  • This Song Saved My Life – Leila Sales
  • Tell Me Something Real – Calla Devlin
  • Exit, Pursued By a Bear – E.K. Johnston

Rating: 4/5


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