Book reviews & writing tips from a wannabe YA writer
Can you trust me? Compare our taste!
Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Category: Fiction, Young Adult
Why I Read It: This title was picked by 3 bloggers during Unsung YA Heroes 2010: Biblio File, Write Meg!, and YA Librarian Tales.
Summary: Most people think Terra is beautiful, until they see the port-wine birthmark on her cheek. Surgery won’t remove it, makeup can’t cover it up all the way, and her father certainly won’t let her forget it’s there.
Review: From the first sentence, this story firmly planted me in Terra’s shoes. Terra’s experience will make you realize how focused we are on a single definition of beauty—who has it and who doesn’t. When I was a good ways into the book, I was out at a coffee shop and standing in line. I caught a kid staring at me, and immediately my hand flew to my cheek. There’s no birthmark on my cheek, but the book made me feel for Terra’s situation so completely that for a split second I thought otherwise.
As if dealing with stares and nasty comments from strangers weren’t enough, Terra’s home situation will break your heart. Her dad is verbally abusive and controlling, almost beyond belief. Terra copes well enough by writing him off, but her mom copes by overeating. This subplot, while powerful, felt a little over-the-top at times. In some scenes, Terra’s mom was just a little too pitiful, and I didn’t believe she was really that weak.
The other reason I didn’t connect 100% with this book is the amount of internal dialogue where Terra explains what she’s feeling. When it comes to internal dialogue, I’m in the camp of less is more. Terra would explain the same emotional struggles over and over again, and I found myself skipping over those parts to get to the action.
But the harsh reality of Terra’s struggles kept me grounded in the story, and the romance felt genuine. This was a good read, just not a favorite for me.
Your Turn: Have you ever unintentionally adopted a habit or quirk of the main character’s from the book you’re currently reading? Or “remembered” something that happened to you, when it was actually from the book?
Did You Like This Book? Try: