Review: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley


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. (via Goodreads)

My Review:

Loved it. LOVED. I stayed up way too late last night to read it all in one sitting, despite the fact that finals are looming. You guys, this is a story worth reading. Justina Headley has gained herself a fan in me.

Terra has a port wine stain on her face, the far-too-common “friends” that aren’t really friends, a scattered and dysfunctional family and one heck of a horrible father.

Her father seriously sucks. He emotionally abuses Terra and her mother all throughout the story, and you will hate him. Headley’s characterization is awesome with this guy. He is a real piece of work. So incredibly weak and self centered…ugh. I also loved the way Headley wrote Terra’s mother. The way she blooms throughout the trip to China will have you fist pumping because it is really something. Despite the fact that she lost her way and let her husband walk all over her, you can’t help but root for her!

Jacob. Oh, Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. I want one. Really. I know I can be a bit of a book slut always falling for the male MCs, but this really is a guy to treasure. He teaches Terra – and everyone who reads the book – to go beyond the surface. He teaches us about strength of character, love, acceptance and the real meaning of beauty.

Beauty is the center of the story. Terra’s growth to accept and love herself, her mom’s journey to finding herself again…and just the general way that beauty should be defined by the inside, not the outside. Jacob is the maestro: he is the one that leads the way and schools everyone in the book, and everyone that reads and loves the book.

Pick this up and read it. You won’t be able to tear yourself away from Terra and Jacob’s story. It’s a book that’ll stick with you, because unlike a lot of other books that deal with the issue of true beauty and self-worth – Justina Headley got it right.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Liz December 6, 2010, 9:52 pm

    Incredible review! I love the phrase book slut, especially since I am also one 🙂

  • Ashley @ Book Labyrinth December 6, 2010, 9:52 pm

    I think this is one of the most lovely books I've ever read. I was sort of squee-ing as I read your review because I completely agree with it, and I just LOVE this book so much, and it made me want to read it again. AH-MAZING. [/fangirl]

  • Ashley December 6, 2010, 9:55 pm

    Great review! I've had this book waiting to be read for a long time, but keep putting it off. I think I'm definitely going to need to push it to the top of the pile now!!

  • Carrie at In the Hammock Blog December 6, 2010, 10:09 pm

    awesome review! sounds like i need to read this one just for jacob 🙂

  • mary kate December 6, 2010, 11:05 pm

    Oh gosh I have to read this. I've heard amazing things about this. Awesome Review!

  • brandileigh2003 December 7, 2010, 3:14 am

    I really enjoyed this one too. Thanks for the review, and you have to share Jacob btw 🙂

  • Cari December 7, 2010, 3:11 pm

    Sounds like such a fun book!


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