- Age Range: 12 - 17 years
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Lexile Measure: 850 (What's this?)
- Series: A Justina Chen Novel
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (February 17, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0316025062
- ISBN-13: 978-0316025065
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 115 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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North of Beautiful (A Justina Chen Novel) Paperback – February 17, 2010
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About the Author
Justina Chen Headley's life were a map, it would be dotted with destinations from around the world. Despite her ability to get lost anywhere, she revels in traveling and has lived in
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I really love the concept of the story. I thought it was going to focus on Terra overcoming her struggles, and it did, but there's also a lot more going on in the book. My biggest issue with the book is that I didn't like Terra. I kept thinking I reach a point in the story where I would begin to like Terra, but that never happened. She was very...self centered. The only thing that made her sympathetic was her insecurities with her birthmark, and even then she was so defensive and prickly it was hard to relate. I guess that it's understandable that she was like that because she had dealt with stares and comments her entire life, not to mention dealing with her evil father. But even after taking all of that into consideration I still couldn't like her. I felt like she was a bad person. She treated everyone badly. Her boyfriend wasn't the best but he's all but forgotten about during most of the book when she could have easily broken up with him. There was nothing holding her back. Then she never tells Jacob that she even has a boyfriend! Ugh...it was like watching a train wreck. I also didn't care much for her relationship with her mother. She was always talking about sticking up for her or intervening when her father was being nasty, but she never did it. I'm going to stop with the semi rant....I think you get my point.
There were a few things that I really liked about the story. Jacob was fabulous. I loved everything about that boy. I also really liked Terra's mother. Her growth throughout the book was great and I really enjoyed seeing her come into her own. I also really liked that half of the book takes place in China. Yay for books with foreign settings!
Overall, I had some problems with the book, as you can see. But if you read other reviews you will see that I am definitely the minority. Most people loved it, but it wasn't for me.
But then, purely by chance, Terra meets Jacob who has an imperfection of his own and is incredibly unselfconscious about it. He slowly changes Terra's way of seeing herself over Christmas break. To see someone that doesn't balk at her birthmark, that actually prefers her without her pancake makeup on, it's so unbelievable to Terra. Meeting Jacob and his mother sets off a chain of events that changes the lives of everyone in Terra's household including her father's. Terra defines beauty in a different way now. And her opinion about herself comes less from what others think about her and more from what she thinks of herself.
It's a great lesson. Believing that you are beautiful despite the flaws you see in yourself when you look in the mirror. Seeing the good things about yourself instead of the bad things when you look. It's easier if you don't have the huge birthmark that Terra has, and yet, I think we still see our flaws first when we look in the mirror. That tape plays telling us we're ugly, remembering a boy, a girl, a parent, a relative that told you how ugly you were. Ideally, we could learn our lesson from Terra and develop a thick skin. Forget the past hurts and move on. Ideally. But take it one step at a time and keep her in your mind. There is some truth in fiction, however small. I plan to be looking for the positives rather than the negative thanks to Terra and Jacob.
This novel is beautifully written, the emotions raw and painful. You can feel the hurt with each insult and unspoken word. I know emotional abuse and it is like walking on eggshells, trying to be on that fine line between pleasing and perfect. One wrong wobble and the insults and barrage of anger begins. All the negative seeps into your soul and getting rid of it is next to impossible.
I hope that North Of Beautiful sheds some light on this problem. It's the kind of abuse one can't see and yet it's as damaging as physically hitting someone. And Justina Chen does a beautiful job of laying the story out to u slowly until we are sure of what is going on.
I highly recommend this novel for lovers of comtemporary literature.