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Outside Beauty

3.55  ·  Rating Details ·  1,086 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
"My mother had four daughters by four different men."

There's only one way Shelby and her sisters can describe their mother: She's a sexpot. Helen Kimura collects men (and loans, spending money, and gifts of all kinds) from all over the country. Sure, she's not your typical role model, but she's also not just a pretty face and nail polish. She is confident and brave; she

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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Dec 26, 2013 karen rated it liked it

as i review yet another book about spectacularly irresponsible parenting!! like Lullabies for Little Criminals, these four girls grow up with a parent blissfully ignoring their parental responsibilities in order to live in some sort of hedonistic wonderland. in lullabies, the relationship was drug-addled romping, where the two of them behaved like children together until it all came tumbling down. this book is less dangerous than that, but helen kimura isn't going to win any
Elle Fae
2.5 stars.

I'm not sure what to think of this. This author is either a hit or miss for me: either I love her book or I don't like it. But this one was just... bareable.

The writing was nothing special, but it hooked me in enough to continue reading it, and it was quite a short book so I was able to finish it in a few hours.

Four sisters in this book grow up under their irresponsible parent in an apartment somewhere in 1980s Chicago.

The neglecting parent is one cliche that I'm getting tired of tru
May 05, 2008 Ellen rated it it was ok
Disappointing, considering the beauty of the author's previous book, "Kira-Kira." This one suffers from fits and starts in pacing, as well as an uneven premise with a flimsy resolution. Parts are charming; the sisters' close ties is the glue that holds the book together. All told, though, I think the author lost track of intention and the plot suffered.
Apr 03, 2011 Thomas rated it liked it
I really loved Kadohata's Kira-Kira, but this book as well as Cracker! The Best Dog in Vietnam did not amaze me. I can see her writing talent through her development of Shelby and the bond between her sisters, but the setting and plot could have been improved. I do not understand the reasoning behind the 1980's setting when the story did not revolve around historical context; I would have liked to seen the story take place in contemporary society, with e-mail and other electronic devices coming ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elizabeth K.
Aug 05, 2009 Elizabeth K. rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008-new-reads
Wow, this was great. YA novel, about four sisters who are actually half sisters because their mother more or less makes a living by serial dating men and then breaking their hearts when she moves on to the next guy. The sisters, who range in age from 16 down to 6, get daily lessons from their mom about poise, graceful posture, preventing wrinkles, appraising jewelry, and attracting men. Most of the action takes place during a summer when the girls are separated as each goes to stay with her own ...more
Clarybella Diaz-Colon
Feb 23, 2016 Clarybella Diaz-Colon rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 30, 2015 Dalila rated it it was amazing
Do you like books that have somewhat drama and suspension? well, if you do this book is the right book for you! The genre of this book is realistic fiction. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

This book is about this girl named Shelby and her family. Shelby is the oldest sister of the rest of her siblings. Her mother is always somewhat there for them. One day Shelby and her mother ended up talking about Shelby's father who is unknown. Then one day somehow everything goes downhill from there on t
Jul 17, 2009 Josiah rated it really liked it
"Why did the world give you twice as much as you could handle?"

—Shelby, "Outside Beauty", P. 140

"Who wanted a long life if you were sad?"

—Shelby, P. 166

Cynthia Kadohata, a master of young adult literature, has once again displayed her stunning skills in this tightly woven, suspenseful, complex story that deals with all kinds of unconventional relationships and the way that our interconnectedness with those around us will profoundly affect our lives, whether or not the connections themselves
May 20, 2009 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 9th-grade
Everyone has their own family stories making their family warm and maintaining in happiness. Have you ever read a book in which every characters struggle with some pretty big concepts of family and beauty? If not yet, flip through pages of Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata to know how it is like! Through this book, you can find it unbelievable having four sisters, each having a different father than the other, and still have a loving family.
13 year old Shelby has 3 sisters and a strong-willed
Jan 03, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
At first I thought this was going to be one of those books that Teaches a Lesson, but it turned out to be very sweet.

Four half-sisters, the daughters of a very beautiful mother, are used to having different fathers and different men around. Helen (mom) doesn't want to settle down, nor does she believe that men want anything more than the perfect, beautiful woman. When she is in a bad car accident, the girls are sent to live with their fathers - and it seems that Helen has no one "type" for men.
Aug 19, 2012 Wendy rated it liked it
Kind of an odd book, with two-star aspects and three-star aspects. Like many other reviewers, I didn't see any point to the 1980s setting.

The most interesting and, I think, best-written parts are about Shelby getting to know her father, and I wish that had made up the bulk of the book. There was an especially intriguing comment thrown out that wasn't further developed that just hinted about how Jiro felt about having his daughter thrust upon him.

Jiro, Shelby, and Maddie were pretty well-develope
265 pages Four sisters, Marilyn, Shelby, Lakey, and Maddie, adore their mother, Helen Kimura. Helen isn't your typical mother, she is always concerned with beauty and her latest boyfriend, and the girls all have different fathers. When Helen is in a car accident, the girls are forced to go live with their respective fathers, and no one is happy. The four are inseperable, and the youngest, Maddie, is being smothered by her father's strict ideas of child rearing. Shelby attempts to bring her ...more
Jan 08, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Kadohata won the Newbery for Kira-Kira, but I found this book to be far more powerful. Narrated by one of the four daughters of a woman who lives on her beauty - supported by an endless string of boyfriends - this tale of family love and relationships resists easy answers and cliches. The characters have surprising depth and complexity. This is YA literature at its best and a story that will remain with me for a long time.
Harun Harahap
Pertama agak kaget juga baca ada empat bersaudara dari empat bapak yang berbeda. Namun, setelah lanjut dibaca, jadi bikin iri sama mereka yang kedekatan satu sama lainnya sulit untuk dipisahkan.

Terima kasih kak Syl, sudah meminjamkan buku ini.
Sep 11, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it
Kadohata's writing does not disappoint, though the story, for me, lacked the impact of Kira Kira, an admittedly high standard. Delightful characters, which Kadohata does a wonderful job of keeping distinct.
Oct 16, 2015 Angel rated it liked it
Read this book 3 years ago. Just remembered about it now, oops.
From what I remember I enjoyed it and thought it was funny. And that's all I can really say.
Eri (Airy Reads)
3.75 stars

Cythnia Kadohata's books all have a quiet and lovely beauty about them that compels me, and this one was no different.

Shelby, the main character, has three sisters; Marilyn, the pretty one, Lakey, the smart one, and Maddie, the baby sister. While they live with their mother, they all have different fathers. They're connected with a strong bond of love and support, and it made me misty-eyed to see how much Shelby worries over them, especially Maddie, who's her responsibility. The bond
Isabella Bloom
Oct 27, 2016 Isabella Bloom rated it it was amazing
What I learned-
-Stay close to your Family
-Be grateful for your family
-Use your family wisely
-Your love ones...
Apr 09, 2010 Kate rated it really liked it
For a long time I never touched YA books. In school I had basically gone from juvenile to adult reading, and YA just got lost in the mix. Even working in the library wasn’t enough to make me want to read a YA book. I knew friends and colleagues who did, but it just didn’t interest me. I thought of YA as mostly chick lit filled with flirty romances and superficial issues. Well, I’ve proven myself wrong yet again with the latest book I’ve read, Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata. A lot of the ...more
Destiny Trigueros
Apr 11, 2016 Destiny Trigueros rated it really liked it
Have you ever read a story that is so good and complicated in the same time? Either way I would recommend the book Outside Beauty. The genre of this book is realistic fiction. I honestly thought this was a decent book. The mother (name not stated) has had 4 daughters with different men. Shelby, Maddie, Lakey, and Marilyn. All of the sudden they all get spilt up and get send with their fathers. They're determined to get their family together.

This story mainly takes place in Chicago, where they ar
May 10, 2015 Sylvia rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Oke. Empat anak perempuan dari 4 LAKI-LAKI? Ini apa yang ada dalam pikiran saya ya, saat beli buku ini untuk koleksi perpustakaan? FYI, saya bekerja di perpustakaan SD! Buku ini pun langsung saya tarik dari tumpukan buku baru sebelum sempat masuk rak buku *fiuhh* Bayangin kalo ada orang tua yang lihat anaknya pinjam buku ini?

Anyway, kisahnya diceritakan dari sudut pandang Shelby, anak kedua dari Helen. Anak pertamanya bernama Marylin, anak ketiga Lakey, dan terakhir si bungsu Maddie. Mereka san
Mar 01, 2012 Karissa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I enjoyed this story. I've read a lot of complaints that the time period did not matter at all, but I did enjoy that the author slipped in the fact that the year was 1983. It placed these girls in a different time because let's face it, if this story had taken place in 1993 everything would have been different.

I did have several problems with it though.

1. Maddie/Maddy. I hated her so much. She was a spoiled little girl and I felt she needed to buck up, 6 year old or not. Yes, her particular f
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jaglvr for

It's always been Shelby, her mom, and her three sisters. The story is told through Shelby's eyes. She is the second eldest of the four. They live in an untraditional family, to say the least. Each of the sisters has a different father. And they each have different ancestry, as well. One is half Japanese, half Italian. One is half Japanese and half Chinese. One is half Japanese and half Anglo. And Shelby is all Japanese.

Their mom has always been on the ques
Michelle (FabBookReviews)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 19, 2014 Ally rated it really liked it
Shelby is a 13 year old girl with 3 sisters (Maddie, Marilyn, and Lakey) that mean the world to her. They all have different fathers though, due to the many boyfriends their mom has dated. Their mother is extremely precise on how she looks and acts each day. She wants to be a perfection, you could say. The girls agree that their mother is really beautiful, and that she isn't a bad mother, even with her excessive beauty tips, and boyfriends. Anyways these girls were as close as could be, all of ...more
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed the story of Shelby and her sisters. Although the story is set in the mid 1980's, there isn't anything that really dates it. I think the author may have chosen to use this time period so that the functions of everyday life are much simpler, (no cell phones, no internet, no social networking) and in this way the characters can write letters to each other and commnicate in a much more personal way through visits and face to face encounters. Shelby has three sisters who ...more
Emi Guzman
Mar 09, 2014 Emi Guzman rated it liked it
My mother actually introduced me to Kadohata's works a long while ago, and I enjoy her writing quite a lot. Many of her characters depict Japanese American girls, but in different eras than mine, and it is interesting to see how much I can relate to those fictitional Nikkei's despite our differences of situation. Therefore, I had to read "Outside Beauty" since I usually feel the need to read all or at least most of the books written by an author I particularly admire. I do not particularly favor ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-coming-of-age
This book starts by introducing us to Shelby and Maddie. Maddie is pushing a shopping cart and wants Shelby to get inside so she can push her in the shopping cart. Maddie is of course promising not to let the cart with Shelby fall over. A few seconds later, once Maddie has built up some speed, she hits a curb and the shopping cart tumbles over spilling Shelby onto the ground. Her nose is bleeding and she gets a shiner from the cart. They go home only to find out that they are taking a rode trip. ...more
Ryne Steinacker
Apr 15, 2014 Ryne Steinacker rated it liked it
This is one of those books I wanted to hate, but couldn't. It was donated to my class library, so I flipped through it over a few sittings and ended up reading almost the whole thing.

*The relationship with the protagonist (Shelby) and her father. What happens when you're forced to live with someone you've only seen perhaps seven times in your entire life?

*Helen Kimura - I wanted to hate this woman because of her laissez-faire attitude towards life and making a living off of men (she i
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Cynthia Kadohata is a Japanese American writer known for writing coming of age stories about Asian American women.

She spent her early childhood in the South; both her first adult novel and first children's novel take place in Southern states. Her first adult novel was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

Her first children's book, Kira-Kira, won the 2005 Newbery Medal. Her first published s
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