Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen
Publisher: Little Brown Books
Release Date: February 1, 2009
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?
I loved this book. It was very Sarah-Dessen-ish, in tone, style, and general storyline ideas, but most definitely Chen’s own work. I was instantly captivated by Terra and her personality. She was someone that any girl could probably relate to, if not admire, and with every page her character grows stronger (literally and figuratively). She definitely has an original voice, and I love the fact that she really grows into herself throughout the book, with the help of her Mom (surprise!) and my other favorite character, Jacob. The way she interacted with him and other characters made the whole thing more realistic, which heightened my emotional connection and responses to the book.
Emotions were very strong in this book; there were several points where I was laughing and crying at the same time, there were a few bittersweet moments, heart-stopping moments, and moments of pure joy. Incredibly, it was a very skillful and smooth transition from emotion to emotion; the plot was so seamless I hardly took note of how many different feelings I had for all of the characters and the story itself.
This is a book that I would love to see as a movie. It was just so easy to picture, so detailed and real, and I even started to write a screenplay for it (although I have to return the book to the library, so I won’t have time to write the entire thing; maybe another time – or if I break and end up buying it for myself, because really, it’s that good!).
I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a touching story, wonderful writing, or a meaningful book. You won’t be disappointed.
*Note: I don’t recommend this book for readers under the age of 14 due to some content.