Thursday, July 5, 2012

Kelly's review of "North of Beautiful"

Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley
Published: Little Brown Books, 2009

Terra Cooper is beautiful in every sense - her only flaw is the large purple/red birth mark covering her entire cheek. This birthmark is her biggest insecurity and the biggest obsession for her mother. Terra spends a lot of time covering it up and feels vulnerable when it is exposed. This changes when she meets Jacob. He helps her feel comfortable in her own skin, as he has facial flaws himself. They become closer and closer and get the chance to go on a journey of a lifetime to China together with their mothers. I loved reading all about their trip, adventures, and experiences abroad.

The one thing that crawled under my skin when I read this book was Terra's father. He was just a terrible person. (On my list of Horrible Characters, I'd place him in the ranks of Lord Voldemort and President Snow. Yeah, that awful.) He belittled his wife's weight and Terra's birthmark, ordered them around like servants, and carried around an air of superiority and self-righteousness. His emotional and psychological abuse was just as terrible as if he'd hit them. Terra is conflicted about her desires to leave for a college as far away from her father as possible yet not wanting to abandon her mother with him. I was hoping the entire book that Terra's mother would stand up to him and put him in his place (yet I didn't feel we got enough closure with their relationship at the end of the book).

Worst-Dad-Ever aside, I really loved the story. It's got a great message of acceptance with a wonderfully strong heroine and a great assortment of supporting characters, from the quirky old ladies Terra works to her droll older brother. On a related note, am I the only one that has seen that cover model EVERYWHERE? She pops up on a ton of different YA covers!


  1. Great review! I really loved this book -- and yes! Terra's father was a horrible, horrible person. But I did really love the idea of exploring and looking for their treasures. I loved Jacob -- I thought he was a wonderful character!

    Awesome book ... though, I hated that I saw the same girl on other books -- I thought the cover was perfect for this one and now when I see her on other books, all I can think of is North of Beautiful!

  2. She does look awful familiar...I hadn't realized it until you said something. She has that perfect YA face.

  3. I loved your review! I love this book, and I agree on Terra's dad being horrible. And I didn't realize I'd seen her on other covers until you mentioned it!

  4. I've heard about this book - and I love your review of it. Thanks!

  5. Kelly I agree with your review and love it! I also didn't like Terra's dad (nor did I like the fact that they all went on a trip within a few days/weeks of knowing each other - to me that felt a little unrealistic). Despite this - I LOVED Terra and her journey to accepting herself. The cover girl has been on many, many covers, it is a bit LOL worthy! Glad I stopped by - I'm a new follower :-)

  6. Sounds good. I love such books. Books that tell about the problems in families and the hardships of growing up are very instructive. I believe that each of us from time to time should read them.


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