Rated Reads

North of Beautiful

by Justina Chen Headley

Rated: Moderate

When you finish a book and you actually, literally, get chills and tears at the same time, THAT’S a good book.

Terra has the perfect look, if not for the port-wine stain birthmark on half of her face. Between that and her overbearing father, she has dug a hold inside herself and shoved in what she really wants and how she really feels: her college plans, her love of art — those things have a hard time rising to the surface because Terra’s so afraid of what the world around her thinks when they see her.

But all it takes is one person to challenge everything you know about yourself, and Terra’s new acquaintance Jacob somehow keeps stripping loose the pieces of Terra that have been hidden for years.

My sister told me it was amazing, and to be honest, it took me a little while to get into the groove of it. I didn’t know why she raved so much until I got about halfway through. Not only does it chip at the core of what we (especially as young women) view when we see ourselves in the mirror, it also touches on what we need from the people around us — and what we have the right to ask for. I had no idea of where this book was going to take me, and while I saw one conflict in particular coming, the rest I didn’t. The only flaw was that every once and a while the dad seemed a little one-dimensional, but I was so enthralled with how it affected the story, I was able to let it slip on by.

I love that it wasn’t just about Terra and her looks. It went so much deeper, into standing up for yourself, resisting abuse, loving your family, embracing creativity, opening yourself to being loved. Throw in some geocaching and some amazing map-metaphors for life, and you’ve got yourself a serious winner.

Rated: Moderate, for multiple uses of mild language and lots of references to deity, as well as reference to teen sex

— Reviewed by Corinne Edwards

Corinne Edwards is always happiest when a book is in her hand. If her current read needs to be closed for a short time, either in her backpack while she leads her three rambunctious children on adventures, or on her nightstand while she sleeps, that's okay too. Her book thoughts and reviews land at her bookish blog, The Book Nest.

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North of Beautiful
  • North of Beautiful
  • by Justina Chen Headley
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: