August 28, 2013
North of Beautiful
North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Summary: 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.
The Good: I found this book to be beautiful crafted. Justina Chen Headley is a talented writer. Her skills aren't John Green-level, but they're worth mentioning. So many writers create a good story with their plot and characters but their writing is just so-so. Also, every little bit of the plot is lovely. There are so many little elements coming together to form the whole plot: Terra's harsh father, Terra's art, meeting Jacob, a trip to China, geocaching, etc. I love how Terra discovered herself at the end and how she supported her mom. I found Terra's brothers, Merc and Claudius, to be interesting characters who each reacted in different ways to their father.
The Bad: The last chapter felt a bit off to me. At least, the ending with Jacob. I don't know, maybe I just didn't understand it. Also, I think geocaching needed a bit more explanation. It's widely gaining popularity, but not everyone knows what it is (I only know because of Switched at Birth). I think the climax needed to come a little sooner. There was a lot of build-up and it took too long to arrive with an ending that was a bit rushed then.
The Ugly: A wee bit of language. Some sexual references, nothing vastly inappropriate, though. Romance was pretty much PG.
The Verdict: Read this book. It's not an epic like The Hunger Games, Divergent, or The Fault in Our Stars but it's still an excellent read.