North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Terra is beautiful. From behind. Her body is perfectly toned and in shape. However, when she turns around, her face isn’t so beautiful. Or that’s what she and her classmates think, even her boyfriend. But when she runs into--literally runs into--Jacob, she starts to doubt herself even more than she has before. However, it’s not in a bad way. Can Terra work up the courage to face her fears and become comfortable in her own skin?
As some of you may have seen from our Friday 56 post, I just couldn’t get into this book. I usually love books like this, but I didn’t love this one. I don’t normally compare books to other stereotypical books, but here I will:
This book is like a Sarah Dessen book. Now, I love Dessen’s books, don’t get me wrong, but this book is very similar to them. In conclusion: I have some reasons why I’m not too fond of this book, but other than that, I have no idea why.
Chen’s writing is beautiful. It really is. She is very descriptive, and I loved the way she tied her theme of maps into everything. In this book, her tone is very blunt, and I laughed out loud several times at things Terra said in her head. With what I said about maps: a lot of how Terra describes things involves relating them to maps or some feature or phrase that is used on maps (Magnetic North, True North, compasses, “Here be dragons,” etc). As much as I love descriptions and imagery, I just didn’t like the way she did it. Not the part about the maps, that was neat, but the other words she used and how she used them. It’s more of a preference thing, so even though I didn’t like it, you or somebody else might.
Terra, the protagonist, is likable, and I do like her. However, something about her didn’t make me really like her and want to know everything about her, little insignificant anecdotes and all like I do for some protagonists. The same with the love interest, Jacob. While he is one out of two characters that I liked more than the others (he’s first, the other is second), he didn’t “wow” me, if you know what I mean. I like his questions, his way of not backing down in the face of the ugly truth, or in pursuit of it. *****SPOILER***** I also really liked what he said about being Goth one moment, preppy the next and what he does with stereotypes. It adds another layer to him and it is very interesting. *****END SPOILER***** All aspects of him are very interesting, and as you know, I love interesting characters. The other character I liked more than the others (that came in second to Jacob) is Terra’s mother, Lois. She has a past that Chen makes the reader want to know through little snippets and then slowly reveals, but doesn’t reveal all of it. She is also a very interesting character, and I enjoyed watching her change.
Chen tells a heart-warming story of inner beauty with a bit of a slow plot line, all the while using unique symbols for the personalities of her characters.
3 ½ stars!
Goodbye for now,Cassia