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North of Beautiful (A Justina Chen Novel) by…

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

by Justina Chen

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7577212,258 (4.08)18
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
Tags:fiction, teen fiction, romance, travel, family

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North Of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley



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So, usually, these kinds of books don't really appeal to me. I'll read them, enjoy them, but then forget about them.
I can easily say i won't be forgetting about this one any time soon.
Though it was a tad bit ironic i read this today because in my AP Lit class we were discussing a poem about superficial beauty/ inner beauty. lol.
So, the story is of Terra (i love that name btw) a girl with a port-wine birthmark on the side of her face. She lives her whole life controlled by the mark (and her father) until one day she runs into (literally.. like, with her car... see i was thinking figuratively when i read the side flap but no, no it was quite literal) goth boy Jacob.
I'm going to say this right now, if i ever find myself a Jacob, i will be the happiest girl alive.
Seriously, one of my favorite things ever are when the normal kids are matched up with the 'goth' kids (though he was only goth for the first quarter of the book.. no matter... ) because frankly, us goths need to be portrayed in a kinder light once in a while.
Jacob is an adopted Chinese boy who had a cleft lip (i actually know a little Chinese boy who had a cleft lip. He is the cutest thing in the world =D) so, he knows a little about what Terra goes through.
Anywa-a-ay the story pivots around a few key problems; Terra's self conscious troubles dealing with her face. Terra's very controlling, condescending father, and how Terra's father treats her mother.
When Terra and her mother travel to China with Jacob and his mother. They both learn how to be free from the restrictions their lives have put on them.
This was just simply excellent, it was beautifully written and i truly enjoyed it. Which surprised me because.. as you can see from my last review.. i tend to lean towards the darker side when it comes to books ;)
But, no, simply beautiful. I really loved it. This will definitely be one to reread sometime.
( )
  glitzandshadows | Oct 12, 2015 |
The novel opens in an unusual setting, a back country mecca east of the Washington state Cascades, a place for hikers, cross country skiers, and outdoor enthusiasts. But our protagonist, 17 yr old Terra Cooper, sees the Methow Valley as "Nowheresville, USA". Terra is an interesting mix herself: while she is deeply interested in art, works part time in a gallery, and makes original sounding collages, she doubts her own abilities. She obviously loves her two brothers and cares deeply (although at times ashamed of her) for her mother, she is fearful of her negative, controlling father. His character is unrelenting in his sarcasm, his criticisms, and his snide, dismissive relationship with his much more gentle, overweight mother. Yet her cartographer dad is "in exile", his big claim in academia that the ancient Chinese discovered America, based on a rare map is eventually found to be a clever fraud. She longs to go to Williams College rather than the state university three hours away, but doesn't really know for sure what she wants, except to get away from her family. She is a dedicated runner, and even in the snowy winter she runs a self made trail, determined to have the perfect figure. Yet her overwhelming challenge is the port wine stain on her face, haunting her every move and the focus of endless attempts (port wine stain conferences, laser treatments, special creams)to help it disappear. Her friend Karin and her senior boyfriend Eric (a handsome jock! how lucky you are Terra) are all part of her daily routine at her high school. Fate intervenes on another (hopeless according to her dad, and not worth the expense)trip to Seattle for a laser therapy treatment, and on a snowy highway on the way home,Terra hits black ice and runs into a Range Rover on the side of the road. She narrowly misses hitting Jacob Fremont, riding with his mom and little brother Trevor on the same treacherous stretch of highway.
From there, the book takes off, her emerging friendship and ultimately attraction to the very different Jacob, and his confident, small but mighty mother, a coffee buyer and enthusiastic traveler of the world. Terra's mom and Norah Fremont hit it off, and since she and her two boys were (how serendipitous!) to the Coopers' town for a 2 week stay at a lodge, Norah insisted on driving them home.

The author spends much of every chapter in Terra's head, as she grapples with her own identity struggles, her mom's unhappy marriage,her dad's ongoing disapproval of just about everyone, her brothers' distance from the family, her art, her ambivalence with her boyfriend Eric, and her growing love for Jacob. There's also much weaving in of map making metaphors, cartographic history, geo-caching, etc - even the protagonist's name reflects this. While interesting, all the added elements: map making (lots of allusions, side bars and chapter headings), geo-caching as a hobby, traveling to China (the Fremonts convince Terra and her mom to travel to Beijing to see Terra's brother), and female empowerment- it just became too much of a jumble for the plot to hang together. For teen readers esp I am wondering if they will become impatient with the long narratives about for example, Terra's thoughts on her collages (how they reflect so many important life perceptions and her own impending choices), her descriptions of the Great Wall and how it reflected their lives, etc. Ultimately, I found it rambling, bloated, and sometimes pedantic. ( )
  BDartnall | Jul 30, 2015 |
I really like this one. It is a YA book, but didn't feel like it. North of Beautiful deals with beauty (inner and outer), family, art, love... ( )
  mlake | Apr 28, 2015 |
Geocaching?! Reshelving to make it higher priority! :) Several ILL but no CC.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Firstly, I did not finish the book but this is my opinion on it. I didn't really understand what was happening and where it was taking place (setting), I knew that Terra, main character, had a port wine and how her teachers were telling her about how to treat it but thats how far I got to. I didn't like this story because of the confusion and talking about the north of a compass. I know that there is a lot more information on these topics but I just didn't enjoy reading it to find out. ( )
  amvu14 | Feb 28, 2015 |
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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
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.
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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