Jan 23, 2012

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley review

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?
From Goodreads
Terra Cooper is the youngest child (and only daughter) of a former world-famous cartographer. Now the laughing stock of the cartographic world, her father takes his personal anguish out on everyone in his life. Terra has always been a blight in his world because of the port wine birthmark that covers a good majority of her face. Disallowing her from making her own choices in her life has simply made Terra's choices easier. Just as her two older brothers have done she intends to leave their home & never look back. That is until she literally runs into Jacob on her way back from a procedure on her face. He sees her for who she really is & who she can be & helps to inspire her to look beyond what she's carefully laid out in her life.
Justina Chen Headley deserves a big hats-off for this phenomenal book about accepting & creating yourself. Terra is such a versatile character. While she's pretty, with a popular boyfriend & decent grades, she's also introverted, artistic & self-conscious. She is every teen girl wrapped into one. I found her very appealing & sympathetic. Watching her grow & become inspired/learn from others' mistakes around her was such a thrilling part of the book.
Jacob adds a twist in the tale as the devil's advocate to almost everything Terra says & does. He's always pushing her, but at the same time allowing her to do things herself. He is also a different facet of what Terra could be. Jacob has encountered some of the same issues that Terra currently faces & he proves to her that there is a different way to handle the situation.
There is a lot of character development & cartographic references that might not appeal to all readers, but I really enjoyed those parts. Justina seems to have a knack for allowing a story to flow while still giving it a needed structure. While I felt like I wanted to know more about some of the peripheral characters, I realized that it would have detracted from the overall story. So if you're looking for an inspiring, realistic fiction you can't do any better than this book.


melissa @ 1lbr said...

I always want to see this book getting more love! It's a favorite of mine. Every girl should read it sometime.

mike draper said...

Nicely, reviewed. You described the book well, explained about cartography and gave enough info to let me determine if it would be a book I'd be interested in.