The best part of being part of the Revell Reads program is that by the time I actually receive the book, I've completely forgotten what it's supposed to be about, but I know that I obviously chose it for a reason—it's like a present from myself to myself, haha!
When trying to figure out how I would describe Everything is Just Beginning, the first thing that popped into my head is that this book is an entire vibe.
Or, if my sister were a book. A bit too modern—1990 is kinda past the era of bell bottoms and The Beatles—but the vibe was still there. Rock & Roll and just kinda all-around vintage (sorry to all the 90s kids, but the book really did feel retro). Maybe it was the fact that Nicki's dad refused to listen to music for fun on anything other than vinyl.
So, overall, the vibe was on point. Kudos to Ms. Bartels for nailing a setting that had me hooked!
I loved Michael's character. He was so fun to read, and his depth of character was something that I loved watching develop. His struggle with forgiveness and his sense of duty both made for an unforgettable character.
Nicki was cool. I enjoyed her, she and Michael worked really well together...but idk, she seemed kinda flat? Which feels really weird to say, because she definitely wasn't perfect, nor overly flawed. Her struggles with her mom's illness really pulled on my heartstrings, but...maybe it was her attitude? Being an only child, she acted kinda entitled and was definitely used to getting her way, but she wasn't overly bratty or anything, and I liked reading her and Michael together. She was just kinda meh for me.
Uncle Mike was kinda a jerk that everyone loved because he could be charismatic when he wanted to, and it drove me up a wall. Probably partly because I know people like that. Dusty and Deb were flawless. I loved them to pieces. Selfless and hospitable and loved people like crazy. They were just...*chef's kiss*
The music was probably another reason I fell in love with the vibe. Not that I particularly enjoyed the music that the characters enjoyed (yes, I looked up nearly every artist mentioned), but that the characters loved music. And that just makes a person have a bond with someone even if they're fictional, ya know?
Also, when Deb talked about Glen Campbell giving her a guitar? I kinda maybe sorta majorly fangirled a lil bit. (he was my top-listened-to artist on Spotify in 2022 in case anyone wondered. Pretty sure I was in the top 5% or something)
The message was...there. Healing and moving on from the past and letting go and all that. It honestly was fantastic, I just...idk. The fact that Nicki and her parents were Christians was something that I really loved, and the way that they brought in Michael and practically made him part of the family was amazing (found family trope ftw, y'all). I guess it just bugged me that Michael, who was not a Christian, fell in love with Nicki. Which isn't a problem. Except that Nicki reciprocated. And it bugged me (don't be unequally yoked and all that) and, quite frankly, took away from the theme of the book a little bit for me.
But, all in all, I did love the book and would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a bit of vibes in their life.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for promotional purposes. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.