September 18, 2012

Latest Read: North of Beautiful

Here are the basics ...
Book: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Site: http://justinachen.blogspot.com/
Category: Young Adult

Summary: It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path? (Adapted from goodreads.com

My thoughts…
The good:  The first word that comes to mind when I think of how to describe this book is beautiful.  It's the best way to describe the language, the imagery and the feelings the author's words would conjure up as I read.  What surprised me was the direction of Terra's story.  I expected it to be a personal journey of overcoming her physical flaws.  But it's so much more than that.  She's overcoming the insecurities brought on by her face and the comments made by people around her, especially her father.  Her father had no qualms about demeaning not only her physical appearance but even her intelligence and personality.  I don't think I've read about a character who infuriated me so much with only a few words.  It really made me sad to think that people like him actually exist.  Terra is trying to mend her self-esteem, her relationships with each member of her broken family and at the same time, trying to pursue her dreams.  It's a lot for one girl to take on. And along the way she meets Jacob. Who I totally fell in love with.  Had I read this book sooner, he definitely would've been on my list of favorite YA guys. What struck me the most about their relationship is that we actually get to read about them getting to know each other over a fairly long period of time.  They have these unique experiences together and so many meaningful conversations.

I think the other love story of the book though is the relationship between Terra and her mom.  It's easy to get annoyed and occasionally embarrassed by your mom.  Terra definitely experiences that.  But she also feels this fierce need to protect her and as time goes on, she starts to see the inner strength and beauty in her mother.  They connect over this adventure they take in the second half of the book.  And that really resonated with me. 

The bad:  I'm a little ambivalent about how I feel about the last few pages of the book.  A part of me thinks it was just right, another part feels like it was teeny tiny bit rushed. All the loose ends do get resolved though, so I can't complain. 

Do I recommend?: Yes! It's such a well-written moving story that I think anyone would enjoy.  And.. the author makes a Before Sunset reference! You all know how I feel about that movie.  I leave you with one of my favorite passages from the book:

"The look he gave me… My stomach quivered in that exact same way when I watched Before Sunset, yearning for a guy to know me so deeply and truly, we were only really complete when we were together. That I could talk, go on wild tangents, make obtuse references, and he would divine my meaning before I knew what I was trying to say myself. Erik had fallen asleep next to me on the couch, complaining later that the movie was "just people talking." He had no idea that this movie could have been a love letter written for me."

Terra, you and me both! Happy reading! 


2 comments:

  1. This sounds absolutely lovely. I MUST get my hands on this book!

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  2. Ditto! I admit, I didn't read your entire review.. I do that a lot when I'm interested in a book you've reviewed. I tend to just skim the "good" and minimally skim the "bad" because I don't want to be too swayed. But you know< I end up reading your review as soon as I finish and I 99% of the time feel the same way as you LOL.

    Another to add to the list but will most likely be read next after "Easy"! That quote you posted at the end - absolutely beautiful.

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