Thursday, February 19, 2009

Book Review: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Life is a journey and the people you meet along the way help determine its route. For high school senior Terra, life has always been defined by the suffocating atmosphere of her small town (where everyone knows her as the girl with the port wine stain) and the pristine house where she lives with her verbally and emotionally abusive cartographer father. Though she dreams of escape for herself and her mother, it takes a chance encounter with adopted Chinese teen goth Jacob to finally set her on a course towards independence and self acceptance.

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. As in the collages Terra loves to create, there are many interesting disparate details – from ancient maps, geocaching, and Chinese history to candle making, coffee tasting and metalworking - that come together to form a pleasing whole.

I loved how the “meet-cute” with Jacob in part one improbably leads to Terra and Jacob accompanying both their mothers on a trip to China in part two of the novel. Her horizons expanded, Terra really blossoms – her relationship with her mother improves and she finds herself falling in love with someone who sees beyond the facial flaw that has always held her back. Jacob is seriously swoon-worthy and is part of one of the sweetest first kiss scenes I’ve read in a long while.

NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL is out in hardcover now. It’s a novel whose journey is definitely worth taking. Find out more about it at the author's website.

FUN FACT: Author Justina Chen Headley and I share a dream travel destination: Bhutan! Not only does she mention it in this interview with Jocelyn of Teen Book Review, she also has Jacob say in the novel that he loves Terra’s port wine stain because it is the shape of Bhutan. Cool!

24 comments:

H said...

I've heard only good stuff about this one. Lovely review.

Anna said...

Great review! Not my usual type of book, but this one sounds worth considering. Jacob sounds like an interesting character.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Alea said...

Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed it as well, it's refreshing to read a book that deals with so much. Usually I find myself thinking on this could happen and this too but then the book would have to be 600 pages. In this case it did everything I wanted and more!

Ladytink_534 said...

I've been hearing good things about this one! I'll admit that I'm even more curious now.

Erika Lynn said...

1- I love that you used the term "meet-cute"
2- that is a great fun fact
3- another great review and I am dying to read this book even more and I need my copy to get to my mailbox ASAP

Justina said...

Thanks for taking the time to read AND review my book! Your words mean so much to me. All I can say is: BHUTAN! I must get there some day. Until then, thanks for taking the north of beautiful journey with me.

~justina

bermudaonion said...

Great review. I'd like to read this one after reading your review.

stargirlreads said...

This sounds so good.... :)

robin_titan said...

I really liked this book too and the message it gives. I read an interview she had on bluestockings' blog and I LOVED it!!

wrigleyfield said...

I would totally read this, and I love the cover and title, too.

Dar said...

Great review Lenore. This really does sound good.

Melissa said...

I'm definitely going to have to pick this one up after reading so many reviews. Thanks for the comment, btw. I love YA too!

Nymeth said...

This is the second review that makes me think I'd really loved this book.

Carol(ina) said...

I loved this book and great review! :)

the epic rat said...

I've heard nothing but good things about this book! And I really love the cover and how it covers part of her face.

Your fun fact was very fun! :)

Reader Rabbit said...

I can't wait to read this one...
and Jacob sounds awesome :)

Thao said...

THis book sounds amazing. And good thing there're 400 pages, I love long books!

ANovelMenagerie said...

I am now a subscriber and you're on the blog roll!

Amber said...

Justina is awesome! And the fact that you wrote about this book only makes me want to read it anymore.

P.S. If you and Justina go to Bhutan...please take me too!

Bookworm said...

Great review! Doesn't really sound like my kind of thing, but I love Justina's writing.

cindy said...

i just ordered this! am excited to read it!

Stephanie said...

I just reviewed this one myself. Thought it was a very good YA novel.

Jessica said...

I loved this book too. Here's a link to my review:
http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com/2009/02/book-review-north-of-beautiful-by.html

By the way, I LOVE your banner.

S. Krishna said...

I've got this one on my shelf. Thanks for the review!