Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Candace Reviews North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

 North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Hardcover, 373 pgs.
Published Feb. 1st, 2009 by Little, Brown
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Purchased

As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face?


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?
Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

This review was first posted at Candace's Book Blog.
We all have books that hit us profoundly.  Ones that may have us bursting into tears at random moments even when we're not even reading the book just because we thought of something in the book that was so sad, or so amazing or just so perfect.  Books don't have to be sad to make me cry.  And this was one of those books.  I cried a little in the first half, which was definitely darker and more full of bad things,  but cried lots in the second half which was full of discovery and more happier moments.  It was the discovery of them finding bits and pieces of themselves, of them remembering, of them discovering that really moved me to tears.  
This book is about Terra and Terra has a birthmark on the side of her face.  It's big and purple and very very obvious.  She's an expert at hiding.  Not only her face but from her father who is very verbally abusive. He's a bully and he spends his time putting down his wife and his child and ordering them about to do his bidding.  He is cruel and he made me so so angry.  I felt so bad for Terra and almost even worse for her mother who had to deal with him even more.  This story is not only Terra's, it is her mothers as well.  She's completely lost herself and eats for comfort, resulting in lots of weight gain and a very low self esteem.  And her husband is constantly nagging at her and calling her names.  She feels like she has no choice but to stay with him and has no strength left to do anything else.  At least that's what she thinks....
Terra and her mother run into Jacob and his mother {nearly quite literally} and this unexpected event created an unexpected friendship which leads their lives in completely unexpected directions.  This is a friendship {Jacob and Terra as well as Jacobs mother and Terra's mother} that is certainly life changing.  And while Jacob has a bit of his own journey to embark on he becomes a rock for Terra.  He is more laid back and go with the flow while Terra is a planner and has to have things prepared ahead of time.  Jacob helps her in discovering what is important and what true beauty really is.  
All the characters in this book were amazing.  They all had their own journey's of self discovery.  While it's told from Terra we still watch what the others go through, especially her mother.  I actually loved how the author told it through Terra but still managed to do a fantastic job in making it about so much more then just her.  This is the kind of book that even adults who don't read YA may enjoy, mothers especially. 
This is a book that resonates.  That really sticks with you.  Days, weeks, months, even years later you'll remember bits and pieces of it and the wonderful messages that come through and it'll give you just a little bit of strength to push you through whatever obstacle you may be facing at that time.  It reminds you about what beauty really is.  It gives you strength to pursue dreams you may have been afraid to go after.  It reminds you to follow your heart.  
This was a pretty clean read with little to no swearing, no sex {just a little kissing} and no physical violence {just verbal abuse but with no cursing}.   
This is a book that goes on my top 10 list.  Yes, I loved it that much.  Please, please, please do me a favor and read this book.  Tell your mothers, your sisters, your friends.  Tell the world, read this book.  
 
Note: I reviewed this almost exactly one year ago on November 11, 2011.  I still remember the book very well (which is rare since I read so much) and it still affects me the way it did back then.  It really is an amazing book if it stuck with me so strongly for over a year.
 
Find the author on her website.
 
And in looking her up I discovered she has a new book coming out! I have been waiting, so this is GREAT news!
 
Expected Publication is Jan. 15th, 2013.
Nothing is going as planned for Rebecca Muir. She's weeks away from starting college--at a school chosen specifically to put a few thousand miles of freedom between Reb and her parents. But her dad's last-minute job opportunity has her entire family moving all those miles with her! And then there's the matter of her unexpected, amazing boyfriend, Jackson, who is staying behind on the exact opposite coast.
And if that isn't enough to deal with, mere days after moving cross-country, Reb's dad drops shocking, life-changing news. With her mother and brother overwhelmed and confused, Reb is left alone to pick up the pieces of her former life. But how can she do that when everything can change in an instant? How can she trust her "perfect" boyfriend when her own dad let her down? Reb started the year knowing exactly what her future would hold, but now that her world has turned upside down, will she discover what she really wants?
Justina Chen, the acclaimed author of North of Beautiful, has created a moving and powerful novel about the struggles that arise from betrayal, the uncertainty of life after high school, and the joy that ultimately comes from discovering what's truly in your heart.
Doesn't it sound amazing?!

Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008. She enjoys a variety of genres including anything and everything young adult, some adult urban fantasy, a little bit of adult paranormal romance, some historical fiction and reads lots of childrens books. You can find her on her blog at http://www.candacesbookblog.com, twitter @candacemom2two and on goodreads.

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