Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Review: Breaking Beautiful, by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful is a heartbreaking story of a teen girl in trouble, unwilling to ask for help, and therefore she's flirting with disaster throughout most of the story.

Allie is in mourning for her boyfriend, Trip, who died in the car accident in which Allie was severely injured. She has a scar on her scalp, and her hair is all messed up because of it and also a scar on her face.

She finally decides she should go back to school, after her parents threaten to take her to counselling, and since she's never really had any friends except for Trip, she is surprised when everyone is so friendly and welcoming. That soon changes.

Allie's only friend is Blake, and they've been friends since they were children. But Blake is also a misfit, and the students at school don't treat him very nicely. Blake continues to push Allie to continue their friendship, even though they didn't really see each other while Allie was seeing Trip.

Allie doesn't remember the accident, except for bits of it that don't make sense. She knows there's more, but she is almost afraid to figure out what happened. It very quickly becomes clear that Trip abused Allie regularly during their relationship, and Allie begins to think maybe she killed him because of something he did to her.

Breaking Beautiful is a complex story and the resolution was somewhat surprising. There are several characters key to the story. Allie has a twin, Andrew, who has cerebral palsy since birth and is in a wheel chair. Allie's father is recently retired from the military, and has missed much of Allie's childhood while he was deployed. There are teachers, a police investigator, Trent's ex-girlfriend, and two of Trip's other friends who all play significant parts in the development of the story.

Wolf's writing is spot-on. The pacing was perfect. There was always small bits of important plot elements being revealed, and it's easy to read but contains enough detail to put the reader in the story and in particular, in Allie's head. Like I said, Breaking Beautiful broke my heart. It was one of those stories where I don't even know what I could have done to help Allie--she was such a mystery to those around her. Yes, maybe her parents should have been a bit more perceptive, but she hid her problems very well.

The resolution of Breaking Beautiful was perfect. It leaves the reader with hope, after a harrowing journey through the exposition of the truth about what really happened that night. Teens who like contemporary novels that tackle tough issues head on should be drawn to Breaking Beautiful, and I'm going to do my best to point them in that direction.

Published by Walker & Co., April 24, 2012
Copy obtained from Around the World ARC Tours
368 pages

Rating: 5/5

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1 comment:

  1. I really liked this one. I loved how the ending made me pause and think. I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I do think it would make a great book discussion. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm having an interview with the author tomorrow. Stop by if you're curious.


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