North of Beautiful – Justina Chen Headley

Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley
ISBN: 0316025054
Pages: 384
Release Date: February 1, 2009
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
Genre: Teen, Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5

From the dust jacket:

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.

I’d heard good things about Justina Chen Headley’s newest book North of Beautiful, but I have to say that I wasn’t prepared for it. When I opened the first pages, I had no idea how powerful it would be, how it would bring tears to my eyes. I didn’t know how invested I would become in the storyline, how I would frantically read, trying to use my will alone to help Terra and her mother. It’s these books that are the best, the ones that sneak up on you and surprise you with how amazing they are.

North of Beautiful was an incredible read. First of all, there are the characters. Terra was a complicated, layered individual who was used to hiding. She lived in her shell, in her safe zone behind a thick layer of makeup until she met Jacob, who challenged her to be herself. Jacob, on the other hand, was damaged and insecure in his own way, though he appeared to be confident on the surface. However, he never tried to hide himself, like Terra did. But just as Jacob challenged Terra, in many ways, Terra returned the favor for Jacob. They’re both excellently drawn characters who are very three-dimensional. I’m not sure how Headley breathed such vibrant life into these characters, but it’s a talent she should never let go of.

I loved the entire premise of being pushed outside of your safe zone. It’s something that doesn’t happen enough for many of us. It’s very easy to stay at home, in your comfort zone, in control of everything. I liked how Terra and her mother kept getting pushed, as well as how they responded to it.

North of Beautiful was also an emotional read; I could often feel Terra’s pain. I had to blink back tears more than once, and sometimes I just had to stop reading and reflect on what was currently happening. I also felt a constant anger towards Terra’s father. The pain he inflicted on his family due to his own insecurity was searing and difficult to stand. This is a testament to Justina Chen Headley’s writing ability; it’s very difficult to affect your reader’s emotions without coming across as cliched or cheesy. Headley’s writing is nothing but sincere and there is nothing cheesy about the book. It’s a beautiful story that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Though North of Beautiful is a young adult/teen read, I think that readers of all ages will find something to love in this gorgeously written novel. It’s longer than most teen novels, but the pages fly by quickly. It’s so worth it to immerse yourself in Justina Chen Headley’s amazing book – my only regret is that the book ended.

Comments

  1. Lovely review! I so want to read this now! šŸ™‚

  2. Lovely review! I so want to read this now! šŸ™‚

  3. I’m looking forward to reading this one. I bought it based on your recommendation on Twitter! I hope you’re having a fabulous time in New York.

  4. I’m looking forward to reading this one. I bought it based on your recommendation on Twitter! I hope you’re having a fabulous time in New York.

  5. I’m go glad you liked it!

  6. I’m go glad you liked it!

  7. Oh, what a super review. Now I definitely have to read this one.

  8. Oh, what a super review. Now I definitely have to read this one.

  9. I’d heard good things about this one before, but your review convinced me I need a copy!

  10. I’d heard good things about this one before, but your review convinced me I need a copy!

  11. I don’t know why Stumble and your site don’t like each other. I can stumble other blogs, but not yours. Hummmm.

  12. I don’t know why Stumble and your site don’t like each other. I can stumble other blogs, but not yours. Hummmm.

  13. This sounds really good. You can’t count at the YA books. There are some gems there. I need to read more of them and will start here.

  14. This sounds really good. You can’t count at the YA books. There are some gems there. I need to read more of them and will start here.

  15. this book was fabulous. i loved every second of it and thought Justina wrote an incredibly touching novel

  16. this book was fabulous. i loved every second of it and thought Justina wrote an incredibly touching novel

  17. Sounds like a very powerful read. I like to read books that “stir it up” for me, if you know what I mean. It’s good to be shaken up every now and then.

  18. Sounds like a very powerful read. I like to read books that “stir it up” for me, if you know what I mean. It’s good to be shaken up every now and then.

  19. Thanks for this review. I was wondering about this book, and now I must read it.

  20. Thanks for this review. I was wondering about this book, and now I must read it.

  21. Sounds amazing! I’m literally going to Borders after work today and looking for it — I needed an excuse to go anyway! But this is a good one šŸ™‚

  22. Sounds amazing! I’m literally going to Borders after work today and looking for it — I needed an excuse to go anyway! But this is a good one šŸ™‚

  23. What a lovely review, of a book that you obviously cherish. Based on your synopsis and insight I look forward to reading it and will add it to my TBR list straight away.

    Thanks.

  24. What a lovely review, of a book that you obviously cherish. Based on your synopsis and insight I look forward to reading it and will add it to my TBR list straight away.

    Thanks.

  25. I can’t wait to read this now! I’m moving it up my TBR pile. Thanks for the review, and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!

  26. I can’t wait to read this now! I’m moving it up my TBR pile. Thanks for the review, and I’m glad you enjoyed it so much!

  27. I’m going to have to pick this one up. Thanks for the great review!

  28. I’m going to have to pick this one up. Thanks for the great review!

  29. What a review!!! I’ve really been wanting to read this. šŸ™‚

  30. What a review!!! I’ve really been wanting to read this. šŸ™‚

  31. Loved it too!

  32. Loved it too!

  33. Well it has to be good to have earned a 5 from you. I’ll add it to the wishlist, it does sound like a really good read. Great review as usual.

  34. Well it has to be good to have earned a 5 from you. I’ll add it to the wishlist, it does sound like a really good read. Great review as usual.

  35. one of the best books ive ever read!! :]

  36. one of the best books ive ever read!! :]

  37. i also loved this book. i’m finally getting my review posted here.

  38. i also loved this book. i’m finally getting my review posted here.

  39. I almost positive I purchased this book and I have searched high and low and I can’t find it! I wasn’t worried about it before, but I honestly didn’t do more than glance at the back cover. Now I want to find it and read it!

    It must have gotten lost in my move šŸ™ I’m missing The Alchemist as well.

  40. I almost positive I purchased this book and I have searched high and low and I can’t find it! I wasn’t worried about it before, but I honestly didn’t do more than glance at the back cover. Now I want to find it and read it!

    It must have gotten lost in my move šŸ™ I’m missing The Alchemist as well.

  41. Excellent review !!

  42. Excellent review !!

  43. Beautiful review.. i love the books you read.
    This one is definitely going to my tbr shelf

  44. Beautiful review.. i love the books you read.
    This one is definitely going to my tbr shelf

  45. Anonymous says:

    i loved this book it changed my life… i loved the very last part of this book

  46. Anonymous says:

    i loved this book it changed my life… i loved the very last part of this book

  47. Anonymous says:

    I read this book and I agree with what you just said 100%. This book will touch every one’s heart as it touched mine

  48. Anonymous says:

    I read this book and I agree with what you just said 100%. This book will touch every one’s heart as it touched mine

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