North of Beautiful

Thursday, July 11, 2013

North of Beautiful is an incredibly well-written book and full of so many feels that I'm still trying to wrap my head around the book. 

Justina Chen-Headley says about her inspiration about the book, "To tell you the truth, I was sick of our society glamorizing a really narrow definition of beauty: blonde, size 00. You know. A chance comment from an acquaintance whose son has a port wine stain completely inspired the book. When I was lauding her parenting because he's such a confident, cool kid, she stopped me and said, "That's because he's a boy..." There it was, my next novel. What if a girl had a birthmark on her face? Could I tackle the notion of real beauty--true glorious beauty--with this character?" However, North of Beautiful isn't just about tackling what beauty should mean, it's also about family dynamics, love, the future and so much more. 

Terra Cooper is blonde, tall and has a great body yet with one tilt of her head, all people see is the port-wine stain on her cheek. She's sick of her small, stifling, Northwest town and yearns for the moment when she can leave for a liberal-arts college on the East Coast, where she'll "graduate in record time, and land a lucrative job where [she'd] make so much money no one could tell [her] what to do, where [she] could go," but her controlling cartographer father pushes her off her planned course. On a drive out, she gets into an accident where she meets Justin, a Goth boy who quickly challenges the way she thinks about her life, her future and her family. 

There were so many things in North of Beautiful, family issues, the idea of beauty, the future but surprisingly, things didn't feel busy or confusing at all. Chen-Headley mastered the art of juggling all the things at once and it made North of Beautiful so, so good. It's a novel that stays with you long after you're done with it. Chen-Headley keeps the minor arcs running throughout the novel, and even keeps the cartography terminology and terms sprinkled throughout. These tiny details made North of Beautiful such a pleasant read and made me admire the amount of research that Chen-Headley put into the novel. 

I'm going to go head off and find Justina Chen Headley's other novels. 


  1. Joie @ Joie de LireJuly 17, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    I loved how Headley continued with the cartography theme throughout the entire book!

    ~Ahhh reading your review definitely make me want to dig out my copy for a re-read. :)

  2. Yes! The continuation of the cartography was amazing and ugh so many feels!


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