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North of Beautiful (A Justina Chen Novel) (edition 2009)

by Justina Chen

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7867511,712 (4.06)18
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Title:North of Beautiful (A Justina Chen Novel)
Authors:Justina Chen
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction, teen fiction, romance, travel, family

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North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
Wonderful book about loving yourself for who you are. ( )
  mtlkch | Jun 21, 2016 |
Terra, a sensitive, artistic high school senior born with a facial port-wine stain, struggles with issues of inner and outer beauty with the help of her Goth classmate Jacob.
  mrsdanaalbasha | Mar 12, 2016 |
good book, good story, repeated a lot of the same stuff, could have ended a few hundred pages earlier. ( )
  umbiela | Feb 16, 2016 |
I really liked the concept of this book and thought it was going to focus of Terra's struggles, and it did for a while, then it became too bogged down with the romance. Don't get me wrong, I really liked Jacob, but as per usual the female protagonist became a swooning imbecile every time 'hot boy' was in her presence. I absolutely loathed Terra's father and the way he undermined both his wife and daughter, but I enjoyed watching Terra's mother, especially, grow in confidence and inner strength when she was away from her verbally abusive husband. Overall, this book was okay but not what I was expecting. ( )
  HeatherLINC | Jan 23, 2016 |
Terra Cooper, 16, has a port-wine stain birthmark that pretty much covers the entire right side of her face. Her father, an emotionally abusive man, has always scorned her for being ugly. He also laughs at her art collages, undermining her confidence in something that means a great deal to her. He is a cartographer, can’t tolerate imperfection, and tries to make his family fit into the rigid lines with which he has circumscribed his life.

Her mother Lois, likewise reviled by Terra’s father - in her case for having gained weight, keeps scheduling Terra for surgeries to try to fix her face, in part to placate the father. Terra and her mom have both internalized the constant criticisms. Terra has a veritable make-up shop in her room to help disguise her face for the times when she can’t swing her long hair over her face. Lois takes her comfort in the very activity that drives her husband’s cruel remarks; she eats and eats to fill the void in her life.

While Lois is driving Terra back from yet another unsuccessful treatment on her face, they hit some black ice at a rest area, and slam into a Range Rover, almost killing the boy standing outside of it. Thus they meet the incredibly nice Norah Fremont and her son Jacob, whom she adopted from China when he was a toddler, unwanted because of a cleft palate, and since repaired. Jacob, with his scar and his blonde mom, gets stared at a lot just as does Terra, but Jacob responds in the opposite way from Terra: he sports an attention-getting Goth look, and stares right back with a big smile at those who gawk at him.

Unlike most books about teens, while this book does have a romance, and even a triangle of sorts, the focus is on the main protagonist and her relationship with herself, and with her parents, both of whom in different ways affect how Terra feels about herself. At the beginning of the story, Terra sees her mother from her father’s eyes, as a cringing subservient woman who eats too much, and kowtows excessively to her husband’s vicious moods. Yet, in spite of her contempt (albeit mixed with compassion), Terra feels she must stay around and protect her mother, unlike her two older brothers, who moved as far away as they could as soon as they could.

One of Terra’s brothers, Merc, is now in China, and after a disastrous attempt at a visit from him during Thanksgiving, he sends Terra and their mom a ticket to come visit him. They can’t imagine going, until Norah says she and Jacob will go with them; Norah has always meant to visit Jacob’s orphanage to try to track down his birth mother.

The journey is life-changing for all of them, as they all learn lessons about love and beauty and what really matters in life.

Discussion: This remarkable story grows on you after you have finished and you find you are still thinking about it. It was hard to read because of the horrific abusiveness of the father, but this made the family’s struggles against his influence all the more poignant and significant. And although it has an ending that is hopeful for some of the characters, it is realistic enough not to be totally positive in every way for everyone. Nevertheless, enough good develops to make you want to cheer for the advances, and to bring out the kleenex. ( )
  nbmars | Jan 6, 2016 |
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Epigraph
A map says to you, 'Read me carefully, follow me closely, doubt me not . . . I am the earth in the palm of your hand.' --Beryl Markham
Dedication
For Mama, who is everything true and beautiful
First words
Not to brag or anything, but if you saw me from behind, you'd probably think I was perfect.
Quotations
Maybe getting around in life is nothing but map-reading. A skill that required practice. A key to unlock where you wanted to go. A legend to show where you were.
Still, I wanted to rush around the city now, a giant geocache, find everything I had read about in the books I had borrowed from our tiny library. (pg 209)
Inertia is so easy - don't fix what's not broken. Leave well enough alone. So we end up accepting what is broken, mistaking complaining for action, procrastinating for deliberation. (pg 194)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316025054, Hardcover)

As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face?

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?

Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Terra, a sensitive, artistic high school senior born with a facial port-wine stain, struggles with issues of inner and outer beauty with the help of her Goth classmate Jacob.

(summary from another edition)

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