Tuesday, July 22, 2008

North of Beautiful, by Justina Chen Headley

Terra is a strikingly beautiful young woman at first glance. But when people see the large flaw on her face, they always cringe. Between that and her abusive father and beatten-down mother, Terra has struggled to come out of her shell. But when an accident and a terrible Christmas gathering send Terra and her mother into the globe-trotting unknown, things start to change.

An unusual premise ripe with potential and a story with a comfortable predictableness. Yes, you know that Terra is going to find herself and recognize her true potential at the end. Yes, the metaphors sometimes come on a bit too heavy. But there are wonderful surprises in this book and scenes (like the one in the orphanage) that will have your eyes welling up. Headley makes the story poignant without being exploitative (a very tricky and important balance). And the ending - while predictable - is satisfying and sufficient.

Don't look for this one in stores yet. It's a rare (for me) advance reading copy (thank you!). It won't be out in general release untyil February 2009. But put it on your wish list now because it is well worth reading!

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