North of Beautiful
Author: Justin Chen Headley
Published: Feb 2009, Little, Brown Young Readers
Pages: short of perfect 384
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Born with a port-wine stain birthmark covering her entire right cheek, Terra Rose Cooper is ready to leave her stifling, small Washington town where everyone knows her for her face. With her critical, reproachful father and an obese mother who turns to food to deflect her father's verbal attacks, home life for Terra isn't so great either. Fueled by her artistic desires, she plans to escape to an East Coast college, thinking this is her true path. When her father intercepts her acceptance letter, Terra is pushed off-course, and she is forced to confront her deepest insecurities.After an ironically fortuitous car accident, Terra meets Jacob, a handsome but odd goth Chinese boy who was adopted from China as a toddler. Jacob immediately understands Terra's battle with feeling different. When Terra's older brother invites her and her mother to visit him in Shanghai, Jacob and his mother also join them on their journey, where they all not only confront the truth about themselves, but also realize their own true beauty.
This book was absolutely a pure delight to read. I took my time and savored every single minute of it and really came to know Terra and love her as a young woman who just needs someone to believe in her. The characters are very well drawn in this novel and you will find yourself wanting to reach through the pages to slap her father, hug her mother, kiss Jacob, and to tell Terra that she is beautiful no matter what. My favorite part of the whole book is when Terra and her mother go to China. As I was reading the descriptions of this country, it came alive in my mind and left me with an urgent desire to visit this place before I die. I can recommend this book without any reservations to any reader out there....I'm positive that you will walk away from this experience with something to treasure.
Other great reviews:
Heather @ Book Addiction
Direct quote from her review: "Speaking of relationships, that is the other fabulous thing about North of Beautiful. What I usually love most about YA books are the relationships between the characters, both romantic and otherwise."
Direct quote from her review: "At nearly 400 pages, North of Beautiful has the space to really explore topics such as the nature of beauty, the beauty of travel, sticking up for yourself, and trying to fit in when you stick out."