Ana's Reviews > North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen
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Jun 13, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: young-adult
Read in January, 2009

Wow, this book was incredible. It's getting a lot of great reviews and they are all well-deserved. There are so many aspects to the book that were meaningful to me -- her relationship with her mother and her brothers, how her self-esteem has been so impacted by her father's verbal abuse, her hesitancy and insecurity about her talent and what she can offer to others, and most of all, at the core of this book, the true meaning of beauty. You really see Terra grow and deal with a lot of her internal demons over the course of the book.

Now the romance...it was near perfect. They had some of the best discussions between two people in the YA fiction that I've read. They talked to each other like soulmates would. They talked about ideas and concepts that transcended their every day lives but somehow were still meaningful enough to resonate with who they were -- challenging them to think about themselves differently. They never really verbalized any of their romantic feelings for each other. It was all communicated through slight touches, meaningful glances, being attuned to each others feelings, and through grins and smiles (they did a lot with each other). There was one kiss in the book and it was toward the latter half. By that point, you knew they had a very special connection. You believed they could be best friends. But, at the same time, it never felt like it would be platonic with them. Their attraction was palpable.

Okay so why did I say "near" perfect? I was really bothered by the fact Terra did not tell Jacob she had a boyfriend. I felt physical pain in the way Jacob found out. I really struggled with how strong and pure their connection was and how Terra was doing a disservice to the specialness of it by not being totally honest. It was like I had a knot in my chest the whole time. But, if I take a step back and really try and understand Terra, I am much more at peace with it. First, she never loved Erik. She knew it and was honest with herself about that. Her low self-esteem kept her in that relationship. I really think that the reason she didn't tell Jacob was because she was embarrassed to be in a relationship so devoid of meaning. Jacob was all about only doing things that mattered. Also, after the kiss -- first admission of their feelings beyond friendship -- Terra planned to break up with Erik ASAP. It's not her fault the unfortunate happened.

The best scene in the book for me was when Jacob and Terra were sitting next to each other on the flight back from China and they are emotionally exhausted from the trip so they sit back in their chairs, eyes closed, companionably silent. Jacob reaches over grabs Terra's hand and places it over his heart. I melted.

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Quotes Ana Liked

Justina Chen
“To dream is to starve doubt, feed hope.”
Justina Chen, North of Beautiful


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