Sunday, February 1, 2009

Enchanting Review: North Of Beautiful

YA Contemporary
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316025058
384 Pages
Print - Available February 2009

Rating: 5 Enchantments

From the back, Terra Cooper is gorgeous. She works hard at looking perfect by daily workouts and she ends up looking like a model. But up front, she hides her 'flawed' face from others. Terra wants to leave her small town and start a new life where others don't know her and where she'll have nothing to hide. But an acceptance to the college of her choice is thawed by her controlling father.

On a trip to yet another surgery to correct her port-wine stained birthmark, she runs into a car. Inside is Jacob, a Goth Chinese teen, who seems to understand her better than those around her. Jacob and his mother Norah are staying in Terra's town to avoid the upcoming remarriage of Norah's ex.

After two years, Terra's older brothers come to visit for Christmas Eve. But after yet another family argument, they leave. Later, Terra's brother emails tickets for her and her mother to come to China where he practices law. Seizing on an opportunity to not be around during the marriage of her ex, Norah invites Terra and her mother to come with them as they search out Jacob's orphanage in China.

On the trip, Terra finds her carefully laid plans for her future in question. Should she listen to her heart and see the world through the eyes of those who don't judge beauty by its cover? Or continue down her present path where it's easy to hide the truth from others by not being yourself?

I loved this moving tale. Terra is a strong character who struggles with her own definition of beauty while longing to break free of her critical father. Jacob helps Terra see the world in a whole different light. I especially enjoyed the trip to China. Terra's mother also grows as a character. It was nice to see the relationship between Terra and her mother.

The author does a great job of showing the changes that occur in Terra's life. The references to cartography, map making, are interesting and are also very symbolic of the changes in Terra's life.

This story is scheduled for release in February 2009. I highly recommend readers grab a copy of this sure to be a hit story. Terra's struggles and triumphs will stay with the reader long after the last page.

Justina Chen Headley grew up near Buffalo, NY and San Francisco. She's the author of GIRL OVERBOARD and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (and a few white lies) which was a Book Sense Pick. Check out more on her website at or her MySpace site:

Enchanting Reviews
June 2008

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