Mar 21, 10
Read in July, 2009
Take a deep breath and steel yourself for Amy Reed’s debut novel “Beautiful.” It’s beautiful for sure, but it’s not easy, nor is it supposed to be. Consider the verbs Reed uses: punched, scraped, gutted, crush, explode, smash, destroy, cutting, burning, scarring. But really, what better words are there to describe thirteen-year-old Cassie’s harrowing descent into the world of drugs, alcohol, abuse and the sex she wishes she weren’t having?
“Beautiful” is a gut check of a young adult novel. It’s the slippery slope of how one choice, one decision marks the line between the good road and the very wrong path. Neither drugs, nor alcohol nor thirteen-year-olds with their legs spread are glorified here. Instead, Reed depicts with a stark kind of poetry how Cassie is ripped apart by each and every decision she makes or doesn’t make. “Beautiful” is a living, breathing organism. With sharp, shattering emotions, the novel reads like a memoir so you feel a part of it, Cassie’s pain your pain, the novel’s pulse the fear of a crash and burn.
Or maybe not.
Because, remember that for a novel like this to work, there has to be redemption. Where and how and if Cassie can find a way out is what will keep you turning the pages. That, and the hope that she will.