North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really touching and lovely book. It is one of those stories that you need to let pull you in...and you may need to push through the fist couple chapters and get used to the continuous cartography references (which really are beautiful once you have read the whole book). But... it is so worth it in the end.
At first I thought the story was going to be rather superficial...a girl with a birthmark and her struggle to cover it up in the haste to avoid ridicule from her classmates and maintain an image of 'normalcy'. I was wrong. The book encompasses so much more depth of emotion, and covers serious issues like divorce, a verbally abusive parent/husband and the fallout in a family it causes, foreign adoption & cultural acceptance, body issues, true beauty, and love.
This is really a story of relationships. Parents and children, Mother and Father, Brother and Sister, Boyfriend and Girlfriend, Friends. This is a story of self discovery...of learning what is important, what is real. This is a story of growth. This is a story of love. Love of oneself, for who you are and love of another - which can only truly happen when you accept yourself first.
The love found between Terra and Jacob is sweet, and evolves with realism. I loved his character - even without the usual bulging muscles and washboard abs descriptors - he is amazing. His own story is compelling and adds so much to the book. I really liked that even though this book is told in Terra's POV, you see and feel the stories of other characters, playing out in her eyes. This book is thought provoking and beautiful, and I am so glad to have experienced it.
See for yourself.
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