BOOK REVIEW: North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley

Released: February 1, 2009 (Little, Brown Books for Children)
Author Links: WEB | GOODREADS
Library / Overdrive

Genre: YA Contemporary

Buy Now From: Amazon
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As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You’re the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face? 

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.

Why I Read this Book

The thing that led me to this book was two-fold: 1) browsing the available e-books on my library’s online website, and 2) noticing this one was available and falling in love with the beautiful cover. My main goal was trying to figure out how to read library books on my new Kobo.

My Thoughts

One of the best things about my new Kobo is that I can take out library books on it. That’s not to say that I’m only going to take out library books (since I adore the ladies at my local library), but it sure is a nice option.

Naturally, once I figured out how exactly to do this, I had to take out a few books just to make sure it worked. Justina Chen Headley’s book, North of Beautiful, was one of them. I didn’t even really know what it was about when I took it out, but was surprised that it really wasn’t like the typical YA books I had been reading as of late.

The story is about Terra, a girl who was born with quite the unique birthmark — a Port Wine stain on her cheek. She feels less than beautiful having it, but that’s only enhanced with the words of her father who takes every opportunity to tell her that she’s not beautiful. Being raised knowing only of how appearances matter, Terra has a lot to learn as she takes on the journey of discovering how beautiful she actually is and how looks aren’t the most important thing in life.

I had no idea that this book would center around such a dysfunctional family and it led to the story not only being about Terra, but about her mother who puts up with her husband’s destructive words. For each of them the story turns into one of finding out what’s inside and what really matters in life.

I loved Terra and really found her to be inspirational in this novel. She grows so much and I really liked the friendships she made and the ones that she questioned. It takes the help of a new friend and the newfound strength of her mother to really show Terra what matters in life.

The family scenes in this book were horrible, but realistic. I had nothing but sympathy for Terra’s family situation.

I really, really enjoyed this book, especially the geographical part of it. There was references to maps all over the place and I found it so interesting. Some of it definitely went over my head, but it was a nice touch to the novel. It was a fresh read that I can do nothing but recommend.

If you enjoy YA contemporary books, or family drama type of books, you’ll like this one. If you like books that are about finding your inner beauty, even when you don’t think you can, this is a wonderful read.

Read More Reviews 

Kristi’s review –> The Story Siren
Kathy’s review –> I Am a Reader, Not a Writer
Laura’s review –> The Reading Nook

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.


3 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley

  1. I LOVE THIS BOOK!! It is definitely one of my favourites. I think it has so much depth to it, and a lot of cross-genre and cross-age group appeal. I’ve even book-talked this book, and yet I don’t think I’ve written a proper review for it. This will have to be remedied next time I re-read it. Glad you discovered this book in such a serendipitous way! =)

  2. Pingback: Clock Rewinders (2) | Reading In Winter

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