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North of Beautiful

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3.92  ·  Rating details ·  34,182 Ratings  ·  2,150 Reviews
As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-Why not fix your face?

It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper.

She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to le
...more
Hardcover, 373 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Cara
Mar 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who wants a lesson on true beauty
Recommended to Cara by: Ash
Listen up people! There is a reason why this book has so many raving reviews, it is simply gorgeous. When I finished it I actually sat for a whole 30 minutes in the same exact spot thinking about the book, and all that I took from it. That's how great it's impact was on me.

The story is like a block of wood that you see has the potential to be something beautiful. The carpenter (the author) chips away slowly and deliberately. Doing a through job of sanding the wood down until finally you get the
...more
Nancy
Posted at Shelf Inflicted

Terra Cooper is blonde, beautiful, a talented artist, and dating a popular and athletic boy. She has everything going for her, or does she?

Well, she has one physical flaw, a port-wine stain birthmark in the shape of Bhutan on her right cheek. Along with her daily exercise regimen, Terra skillfully applies an assortment of cosmetics and moisturizers to conceal the red stain that brings her shame.

She lives in a small, boring town in Washington, has a father who is contr
...more
Wendy Darling
I don't read a lot of realistic YA fiction precisely because of books like this: well-meaning, angsty Books with Messages whose earnest agendas are perfectly clear to anyone who skims the jacket. It's funny that a book that wants so very much for people to look past the mark on Terra's face has so much trouble focusing on much of anything except that.

Despite being a decently-sized novel, somehow how the abusive dad, the meek mother, the endless references to cartography, the artwork, and the bo
...more
Catie
Apr 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011, ya
I am extremely ashamed to admit that about twenty pages into this book I was feeling like, “Oh here we go again…another wealthy girl with made up problems…her dad will only pay for a state school? Boo-hoo….” Yeah, I kind of want to punch myself in the face now too. But, I think that’s just one of the things that are so remarkable about this book: on the surface and even in the beginning, it seems to be a simple, even juvenile story about a girl with a birthmark, but it ends up surprising you wit ...more
Flannery
Once upon a time, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning while sitting under the covers in a darkened air force base hotel, watching a PBS Nova special about the magnetic poles. (hold on while I push up my nerd glasses) The people I was with were all asleep but I was watching it, flabbergasted, and wanting to wake them up--because I never knew, until that moment, that what we know as magnetic north and south have changed several times in the history of Earth. Can you imagine? Obviously it ...more
Thomas
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
North of Beautiful is about Terra Cooper, the blond bombshell with a killer body and perfect boyfriend whose life would be unblemished if not for the port-wine stain encompassing the entire left side of her face. There is a saying that goes "Humans only take into account bad deeds, and once a bad deed has been committed, the good will forever be ignored." This is true for Terra, for when most people think of her, they forget that she works strenuously to keep in shape and that she has promising ...more
Emily May
Aug 19, 2011 marked it as dnf
Shelves: young-adult, romance

I'm sure this must get better as it goes on but the opening was too dull for me to want to spend any more time finding out.
Lucy
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
The first thing people notice about Terra Cooper isn’t her gorgeous blonde hair or killer body: it’s the port wine stain that spreads across her cheek, marking her face. Terra is desperate to escape her tiny Washington town, and plots to attend a small liberal arts college on the East Coast, but her controlling father dashes her plans. When she meets Jacob, a Goth Chinese boy, after she nearly hits him with her car, things begin to change. Jacob gets her. For the first time in her life, Terra is ...more
Jessica
TBR Pile Reduction Challenge #3 - Kristy

North of Beautiful and I were off to a rather rocky start. After about 50 pages in I was contemplating giving up on it because what I had read so far had either bored me or had made me uncomfortable to a great extent.
Terra’s family is more than shattered. Her father is a real bully and all those mean and hurtful things he said to either Terra or her mother hurt me so much that I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to stick with the story or not. I guess the fact
...more
Milly
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“Terra, a sensitive, artistic high school senior born with a facial port-wine stain, struggles with issues of inner and outer beauty with the help of her Goth friend Jacob.

I was initially dismayed by the first few chapters of this book because of the intense amount of references to maps and cartography, of which I was not well-versed in, making it feel like I was reading an encyclopedia and in need of constant referencing with a dictionary to find the meaning of certain words. The cartography me
...more
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, contemps
NoB was a birthday present from one of my best book buddies, @SarahO97 - she didn't tell me anything about it, but Sarah has great taste in books. I can definitely say that I wouldn't have picked up NoB if it hadn't been for Sarah....but boy, am I glad I did.

When I first started North of Beautiful, I expected it to be fairly light-hearted, with lots of self-discovery and a cute romance with some self-esteem stuff. Not so. This book surprised me with its depth and its honesty. But be warned: this
...more
Kristi
Jul 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This book was fantastic! I’d read Headley’s Girl Overboard, and I wasn’t that big of a fan. I love Headley’s writing the MC in Girl Overboard, just rubbed me the wrong way. But with North of Beautiful everything came together. I just loved this book!

The writing was so perfect, I just enjoyed how the story was told, I could not stop reading this book. The words were addicting. The characters were so well developed. Even Terra’s dad, he was such a remarkable character, not saying that he did grea
...more
Limonessa
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-lit, favorites
I've been thinking about this book for a few weeks now and decided I needed to re-read it and give it a better review since the one I wrote before didn't do it much justice.
I loved this book, even more so the second time around. True, it's got most of the clichés of YA fiction (girl with issues meets perfect boy, love triangle, HEA, blah, blah...) but the story was developed so well and with so many subplots that I think it is worth giving it a special place in the chaos of YA lit.

Terra is a b
...more
Tatiana
Dec 07, 2010 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: ya
Can't bring myself to care... Way too boring.
Megan
Aug 10, 2010 rated it liked it
North of Beautiful is almost an awesome book. The only problem is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Clearly it is YA but beyond that it is a bit jumbled. Dysfunctional family? Coming of age? Self discovery? First love? Is it defined by art, cartography, Chinese culture, a prominent facial birthmark, or small towns? Of course, it can be all of these things, and in the hands of a more talented writer it may have worked. Unfortunately, as it is written I couldn’t help but feel that Justina ...more
Mitali
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A compelling, inspiring story about the freeing power of celebrating our flaws instead of trying to camouflage them, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL is a cannot-put-down novel that lingers in your mind long after you finish the last page.
Annalisa
It took Headley awhile to get into a groove with her story and her characters, but once she did, she captured the emotional insecurity of Terra so well. For all her work to appear perfect and put together, she is broken inside. The hide inside herself, don't show any reaction to her verbally abusive father, the insecurity of people talking about her port-wine stain as a defect that needed to be fixed, the urge to get out of high school and yet want to stay and protect her mother. It was all so s ...more
Jacki
Mar 25, 2011 rated it did not like it
Summary: Terra has an enormous birthmark on her face that causes her to wear a lot of makeup and worry that she isn't pretty. Actually, her d-bag father makes her worry that she isn't pretty, or smart, or worth anything as he terrorizes and controls the entire family. When she almost runs over Jacob the Goth boy, the two start a friendship that begins to change the way Terra sees herself.

Verdict: Oh, puh-leeze.

Positive: The writing was pretty decent, and I liked the extended cartography metaphor
...more
H
This book was whoa to me. I rarely find books nowadays that really make you think, and feel changed at the same time.

I think this story was what I perfectly needed, being a teen that cares too much about what people think and say about me and is just not so sure about the way I look. At the end of the book, I felt healed in a way, more confident about myself--I don't give a damn about materialistic, egoistical people that deny myself from feeling secure and doing what I really want to do.

Headly'
...more
Ayesha
Actual rating- 4.5 stars

"True beauty lays within."

I've never read a book before that I could relate to so much. North of Beautiful is a beautifully writtten book. It explores the meaning of true beauty and love. There are so many things in this book that touched my heart. I've never before found a character like me in any book. This book is totally re-readable. The only problem I had with this book is that it had an unnessecary love triangle (WHYYYYYY????!!!).
Nevertheless, it's a great book th
...more
Aimen
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

First things first, I really did not like Erik. I think he was supposed to play off as the totally-hot-boy-that-everyone-wants-and-is-mr.-perfect kinda guy. To me he came off as a no good jerk that needed some serious help. And then there's Jacob. Sigh, Jacob. I don't care if he was a goth or not. He could totally play it off plus he had his reasons. And smart reasons they were. From the very beginning, I could see that Terra and Jacob's relationship would develop to be those totally pu
...more
Allison (The Allure of Books)
Loved it. LOVED. I stayed up way too late last night to read it all in one sitting, despite the fact that finals are looming. You guys, this is a story worth reading. Justina Headley has gained herself a fan in me.

Terra has a port wine stain on her face, the far-too-common "friends" that aren't really friends, a scattered and dysfunctional family and one heck of a horrible father.

Her father seriously sucks. He emotionally abuses Terra and her mother all throughout the story, and you will hate h
...more
Michael
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2009
Theresa was born with a port-wine stain on her left check. Over the years, she's pursued a multitude of medical remedies to try and remove it with little success. Now, in her senior year of high school, she dreams of going to an art school in the East and escaping her small town life, her domineering father and her passive mother.

But when her father intercepts her acceptance letter and refuses to allow her to go to the college of her dreams, Theresa feels her dreams are going up in smoke. Then
...more
Brigid ✩ Cool Ninja Sharpshooter ✩
Amazing! I loved it! Brilliant story, great characters, and an inspiring message about what beauty really is. :) I highly recommend it.
Tina
Feb 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Original post at One More Page

I'm a big reader (obviously), but there are certain books that I can say are my absolute favorites, ones that I would willingly read over and over again and bring with me to a deserted island, if given a choice. Some of them are This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and probably Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

I'm happy to say that North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley just joined their ranks. :)

In this day and a
...more
Keertana
Feb 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.5/4 Stars

I can honestly say that North of Beautiful was not the novel I expected it to be. Yes, it discussed the age-old theme of beauty going deeper than what you see, but it also had a plethora of other important messages. Its characters, although easy to sympathize with during the first half of the story, truly came alive in the second half, proving to be well-fleshed out and deep. Furthermore, North of Beautiful addresses beauty through maps, cartography, geocaching (I am totally
...more
Heather
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Women of all ages
Shelves: 2010
Initially deterred by the abundance of mapping mentions, it took a while to see what lied beneath all the cartography trivia. But around 40 pages in, something shifted, and I was introduced to the raw story that was being obscured by all that detail. North of Beautiful made me gasp for breath while sucking in tears. Because Justina Chen Headley got it exactly right.

Terra Cooper is a lost and broken girl, further damaged by the port wine stain splayed across her cheek. Intent on being perfection
...more
Kurukka
Oct 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya-novels
I might have rated it two stars, had I not read the last half of the book, because the first truly bored me sometimes. I liked the conclusion, even though I thought it was way too much justified (I think that's my main problem, writers trying to explain everything and writers who don't explain enough; the line between these two is very thin so maybe it's just me getting lost there).

However, the relationship between Terra and Jacob didn't raise any kind of emotional wave in me. Maybe it's becaus
...more
Grace Stinson
Oct 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved the book until the end then I feel it was ruined
Rebecca McNutt
Terra's story was well-written, creative and vibrant, and her life in this novel is well-worth reading about though the writing was slightly choppy at times.
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Justina Chen is an award-winning writer. Her latest book, THE ART OF INSPIRATION: LEAD YOUR BEST STORY, is for any leader who wants to inspire employees, customers, and constituents. Her YA novel, NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL, was named to Best Books lists by Kirkus Reviews and Barnes & Noble. Her other novels include A Blind Spot for Boys, Return to Me, Girl Overboard (a Junior Library Guild premiere s ...more
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“Getting lost is just another way of saying 'going exploring.” 390 likes
“Beauty—real everlasting beauty—lives not on our faces, but in our attitude and our actions. It lives in what we do for ourselves and for others.” 305 likes
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