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Ordinary Beauty

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  871 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
How can you make someone love you when they won’t?

And what if that person happens to be your mother?

Sayre Bellavia grew up knowing she was a mistake: unplanned and unwanted. At five months shy of eighteen, she’s become an expert in loneliness, heartache, and neglect. Her whole life she’s been cursed, used, and left behind. Swallowed a thousand tears and ignored a thousand
Paperback, 290 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by MTV Books
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Joni Thomas
Mar 13, 2011 Joni Thomas rated it it was amazing
This story hit me hard. There were times in this book that I had to put it down and walk away. I received this in the mail about a week ago and it has taken me that long to get through it. Not because it was a bad book. On the contrary, Laura Wiess has done it again by creating a startlingly honest novel about something people know happens but choose to ignore. I am sure we have all seen the kid in school with the dirty clothes who seems to never bathe and most people, at least at my old school, ...more
Morgan F
I love this cover because the model doesn't look perfect. She looks like a girl.
Jan 05, 2012 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
*4.5 stars*

So here’s the thing: I really don’t understand it when people say they don’t like reading ‘issue’ books. In my opinion, the best type of escapist fiction is the one that deals with issues, turns them into ultimately satisfying stories that you get something out of. That’s why Ordinary Beauty appealed to me right from the moment I read its summary (and, okay, totally swooned after its cover, because dang, it is GORGEOUS).

The book focuses on Sayre Bellavia, a girl who’s been brought up
Jun 04, 2011 Sierra rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book.
It was no surprise, really, since I've read and loved all of Laura Wiess's novels. Each one more and more powerful, heart wrenching and true that I can't believe it. At the end of each, I'm left shocked, though not surprised at the depth and trueness of them. This author has a knack for taking the gritty, dirty aspects of the real world, and shaping them into beautifully written and deep novels that stick with you, hours—days—after reading.
Ordinary Beauty is my new favorite W
Jun 15, 2011 Charlotte rated it it was amazing
Ordinary Beauty is the most heart-wrenching book I have read in a very long time. I read it in bed last night and cried pretty much through the entire book. The rebuttal of #YAsaves is based on the premise that many teens live DARK lives, that reading books like Ordinary Beauty and 13 Reasons Why give teens an outlet for their own situations and feelings . At lunch today I was discussing the book with my coworkers and what had happened to Ellie - which I felt was one of the more farfetched porti ...more
Greta is Erikasbuddy
Mar 21, 2011 Greta is Erikasbuddy rated it it was amazing
Simply magnificent, brilliant, honest, and real.

A tragic masterpiece speckled with hope in a sturdy tarnished frame.

Loved every word that was written.

The characters were so vivid I could see each one in my head.

The hardships so detailed that at times you gasp, at times you sob, and at times you smile because you can't help yourself.

A story that I have never heard before. Original, vibrant, colorful, and yet dark.

I recommend it to all my friends.

***Laura Wiess is a wonderful writer. She reminds
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Originally posted on A Reader of Fictions.

I really hadn't even heard of this one, but I have always wanted to be part of a book club, so when I learned about the Not So YA Book Club I had to be a part of it. This was their book for September, so I checked the library and they DIDN'T HAVE IT. Epic tragedy. So I checked Amazon and HURRAH! They had it for like 5 bucks. So I bought it and some other books, not expecting much, but deeming it worthwhile for the overall experience.

Turns out, though, th
Jessica Rodriguez
Aug 13, 2011 Jessica Rodriguez rated it it was amazing
I believe this maybe the best book I have every read!!

Ordinary Beauty has to be the best book I've read so far! I am not saying this lightly this is why- first off the emotions I felt reading this book. Laura Wiess can write her ass off because this reader was an emotional roller coaster right from the beginning. I felt sad, disgusted, agonizing over rather I could finish it and then joy in the end when I did. Second Sayre- she was strong and craved love through out the book from someone that
Aug 04, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: y-a
3 1/2 stars.

Sometimes I have a hard time when it comes to rating a book by an author whose work I have previously read. I compare it to the author's other books. So this is why rating "Ordinary Beauty" was a bit difficult for me because I liked all her other books better, in this order:
How it ends
Such a Pretty Girl

Such great books, really. All dealing with tough issues in unique ways. I LOVE the way Laura Wiess writes. It's gorgeous, really. So even though this story in particular was l
Jan 02, 2015 Tez rated it really liked it
When she walked out on her mum, why did Sayre go to live with Harlow Maltese? Why would he let her live with him? Why didn't Sayre just look for Beale? (Probably because the novel would be a lot shorter if she had.)

(view spoiler)
Jessie (
Feb 19, 2015 Jessie ( rated it it was amazing
Shelves: o-books
Oh this book. My heart is broken, but I'm strangely at peace about it.
Sep 13, 2012 Sandra rated it really liked it
You can add this to the list of books I never would have read if it weren't for my book club, mainly because I'd never even heard of it until I learned it was our September selection. Why hadn't I heard of this book, especially when it seems books that will make you weep (TFiOS, anyone?) are becoming more and more popular? But the plot description appealed to me so I wasn't sorry to pick it up and read it.

Sayre was unplanned and unwanted and her mother never hesitated to share that with her. Gr
Sarah (Workaday Reads)
Sayre Bellevia's mother is an alcoholic and a meth addict. Living with her has been excruciatingly difficult, and not just because Sayre knows her mother never wanted her. Sayre has stuck by her though, trying to make her mother see and love her. Now Sayre's mother is dying, and she must find a way to deal with the fact that she is finally going to be left behind for good.

Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. After finishing this book, that's all I could think of to describe it. Even after wa
Jun 13, 2011 Joli rated it it was amazing
Ordinary Beauty has left me a wreck. Never have I been left so emotionally drained from reading a book. While this may sound negative to some, it is one of the best feelings I can great from reading. I know this book and Sayre's story will be with me for a long time.

Laura Wiess has written a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story of a young girl who has lived a life of abuse, abandonment and neglect with very few moments of hope. The novel begins just as Sayre learns that her mother has been admi
When I saw this book by Laura Wiess on Simon & Schuster's newsletter, I had the feeling I'd already heard the author's name and, after a rapid search on Goodreads, I found out I had all her books on my TBR shelf. So how could I possibly miss the chance?

Then I started worring that I wouldn't like it or that my expectations were so high that I would inevitably be disappointed, and I put this book on hold until I was in the right mood.

A week ago, I picked my kindle up and decided that I didn't
Jun 25, 2011 Rabiah rated it it was amazing
Originally Posted at:

**This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). The final text/cover may be different.**

Wow. Just...WOW.

I've heard of Laura Wiess' other book Such a Pretty Girl but never any other book by her. I have to repeat myself. W-O-W. This book was so richly detailed and horrifyingly beautiful. It's so painful to read, but I HAD to find out what happens to Sayre in the end– and the ultimate question: did her mother ever really love
Stephanie A.
I initially read this largely because the cover model looked so much like Natalie Portman. It was so slow to start that I had to keep checking whether it was YA or an adult novel, but right around the time she finds Evan, it picked up spectacularly (injury/rescue = no faster way to zipline to my heart, even if he hadn't sounded generally adorable). I became equally absorbed in both the story of her past and the present-day action. I still thought the present-day scenes with her mother dragged a ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Taylor rated it it was amazing
This is a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story of a young girl who has lived a life of abuse, abandonment and neglect with very few moments of hope. The things Sayre experiences, I would never wish for anyone. To say that this was a difficult, tough story to read is an understatement. The emotional struggles Sayre tells the reader throughout Ordinary Beauty left my stomach in knots. You witness every painful experience vividly as if it is happening to you. I don’t want to give away too much of ...more
Ordinary Beauty was not an easy book to read. I cried, and then I got angry, and then I cried again, an sometimes I had to just put the book down cause it was too much. But in the end it was so, so beautiful.

For me, Sayre is one of the most beautiful heroine ever written. At eighteen, she's lived trough more tragedy and horror that anyone should see in his entire life, and nonetheless she menage to became strong, and compassionate,and so good at heart that you just want to hug her and tell her
Oct 06, 2014 Runa rated it it was amazing
It was slow going there at first, but as you keep reading, the pieces of the story start to fall together and create something beautiful. Plus, I'm always an advocate for resilience lit, and always there to recognize stories that acknowledge that mothers can and sometimes do genuinely dislike and abuse their children. Sick of the cultural narrative that mothers are loving by default, somehow wired to adore their child, enabling cycles of children stuck in abusive, invalidating environments.
Mar 26, 2014 Indigo rated it it was amazing
What an extraordinarily good book. I've been in a reading slump these past few weeks where even old favorites weren't working for me. But Ordinary Beauty drew me in right from the first paragraph and wouldn't let me go. With real 3D characters, this very well written books tells of the struggles of a strong young woman, a survivor, a "keeper".
Although it was a difficult book to read at times, the struggles of the main character Sayre felt real. She has been through so many hardships and has to
Jan 24, 2016 Amanda rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this. I got totally sucked into the story and was emotionally invested in all of the characters. Laura Wiess is a very talented author and has a way of sucking you into these devastating scenarios whether you're ready or not. I may even enjoy this more than Such a Pretty Girl. Beautiful.
Donna (Jaevenstar)
Jun 05, 2011 Donna (Jaevenstar) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-challenge, ya
I really really liked this book! It took me on a journey that was full of ups and downs and extreme emotions. I don't want to talk about what I didn't like about it only because it will give away a major spoiler. But overall a really awesome book. If I could give it a 4.5 I would.

Jan 04, 2013 Shannon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, 5-star-books
Heart-wrenchingly beautiful story. I sobbed while feeling an overwhelming sense of what some people have the strength to overcome.
Jan 31, 2016 Myca rated it it was amazing
This has to be one of the most painful, heart-wrenching books that I have ever read. Still, the immense admiration and love I have for this book and its author leaves my heart bursting at the seams.

This book is so REAL. The authenticity in it is gripping. There are times when this book left me breathless- both in good and bad ways, and I just had to stop, force a deep breath and control my shaking, or my tears, or my gasps. Some parts are absolutely horrifying but so TRUE and REAL and I shake my
Jan 04, 2016 Kiko rated it it was amazing
Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess explores the complexities of love, pain, and attachment between a variety of personalities. Sayre's mother is an addict who would give up anything for her next hit. Despite all of the terrible things her mother has done and the cruel, sick childhood she experienced, Sayre finds herself conflicted upon the news that her mother is dying. Although the relationship between Sayre and her mother is the main focus, other relationships and events are strongly related to th ...more
Jul 13, 2015 Goldi rated it it was amazing
A blurb that keeps appearing on Laura Wiess's novels is from A. M. Jenkins: "Laura Wiess boldly goes where other writers fear to tread."

This is perhaps the most accurate thing that could be said about Laura Wiess's writing. She writes dark, contemporary stories about subjects such as abuse, addiction, rape, drugs, and death. In Ordinary Beauty, Sayre has just learned that her mother is in the hospital, on her deathbed. It's winter in Pennsylvania (where I have lived for much of my life, so I de
May 11, 2015 Jessica rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 11, 2015 Licia rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Laura Wiess is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Such a Pretty Girl, chosen as one of the ALA’s 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and 2008 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Leftovers. Originally from Milltown, New Jersey, she traded bumper-to-bumper traffic, excellent pizza, and summer days down the shore for scenic roads, bears, no pizza delivery, and the irresistible allure ...more
More about Laura Wiess...

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“Sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones who need it the most.” 100 likes
“How can you make someone love you when they won't? How long are you supposed to keep trying?” 38 likes
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