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. North of Beautiful is the engaging third YA novel by Justina Chen Headley. This is a gorgeously-written, compelling book featuring universal themes of defining true beauty, family bonds, personal strength, and love.
I don't know if you've noticed, but I've kept my reviews shorter lately. This is a mixtue of lazyness and the fact that I read books weeks before I actually review them. Okay, onto the real thing.
North of Beautiful is a...beautiful book. All characters are so distinct and unique that you really get a sense that you know them all. I loved also the uniqueness of the book because of the mapping details. I've never read a book that centered an idea, a hobby, and created a complete story revolving around it.
Jacob and Terra are just great together. Both have their issues and I believe that both, in the end, discover True Beauty in themselves.
The father was an a*hole, that's enough said. But even with that, we are left with enough ambiguousity in the end to really figure out by ourselves what really happens to him and the characters the moment you close the book.
And Terra's mom is amazing, too. I was just as happy that she found her beauty as I was with Terra finding hers. Both of theirs stories are inspiring.
In one sentence:
"Finding beautiful in every word."
Overall Feeling: 5
Average: 5 stars