Book Review: North of Beautiful

Title: North of Beautiful
Author: Justina Chen Headley

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 leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?
"I think there've been lot of misguided attempts to change what's already perfect."

"Nothing's perfect."

""Maybe we don't have the same definition about what's beautiful. So define it. Define true beauty."
"Well, it seeps into you. It doesn't make you forget yourself but totally the opposite. It connects you with everything and fills you with awe that you share the same space with something that glorious. Like a sunrise or a clear blue day or the most extraordinary piece of glass. and then suddenly you have this epiphany that there's more to the world than just you and what you want or even who you are."
COVER. First of all, I must congratulate the designer of the cover photo. It's very eye catching. It's appropriate and does convey a message about the book.

One thing I like about this book is that the lead characters were not portrayed as perfect and flawless individuals. With their imperfection, they realize the real definition of True Beauty.

TERRA ROSE COOPER. Attitude wise, I like her. She has determination and perseverance although a control freak. At first, she felt like giving up her dreams and plans because of her dad but then she came to realize that if she really wanted to get out of her father's grip, she really has to stand up for herself. She's really beautiful with her gorgeous eyes, blond hair, and voluptuous body but she has a birthmark that is hard to ignore. A wine-stain Bhutan-shaped birthmark covers half of her face. She hides it by applying tones of concealers and foundations on her face. She always lets her hair down. The only time she feels at peace is when she does her artwork. She works as an artist at Nest & Egg Gallery. She draws and also assembles collages. She also makes posters for their gallery exhibits. At first, she was blinded by the picture of True Beauty. She's so afraid and ashamed to show her face to people because they might have rude comments or remarks against her. Throughout the story, her perception of beauty will change especially when she went to China.

JACOB FREMONT. A goth boy. An Asian guy who wears black lipstick and an all-black outfit. He has his own reasons for doing this. He believes.that if people notice his goth attire they will fail to notice his difference with his mother. His mother is an American by the way. He was adopted at an orphanage in China. The reason for his abandonment at an orphanage: hi has a cleft lip. Even though he was a boy, his mother gave him up. I'm happy that he found happiness in the family that adopted him. I'm glad that Mrs. Fremont insisted on finding his birth mother. And I really wish that he'd really end up with Terra. He made her realized that essence of true beauty. He challenged her to do things spontaneously. He accepted her for what she really is.

GRANT COOPER. He's such an ass. I really hated him. He directed his anger at his own failure towards his family. He's such a manipulative asshole. Most of the time, I imagined whacking him at the head just so his family could be freed. He really has some serious issues and probably needs a psychiatric attention. I take pity on how he demoralizes his wife and Terra. They should have just left him.

MERCATAUR PTOLEMY. Such a weird name courtesy of his mapper father. He goes by the name Merc. He's the oldest brother of Terra who was married to his blackberry. In his rush to escape from his father, he thought money and power could be his own peaceful nest but if he will not pull himself out, he'll just end up like his father.

GEOCACHE & MAPPING. This added fun to the story. According to Wikipedia, Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which the participants use a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches", anywhere in the world. A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook where the geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name. Larger containers such as plastic storage containers (Tupperware or similar) or ammunition boxes can also contain items for trading, usually toys or trinkets of little value. Geocaching shares many aspects with benchmarking, trigpointing, orienteering, treasure-hunting, letterboxing, and waymarking. I really do not have any idea about this until I read this book. Dr. Grant was a famous mapper who made the mistake of backing up a fake map of China. This is part pf the reasons why he behaves like an asshole.

This is a book about true beauty. Physical beauty is far different from beauty coming from the inside. One of the parts I appreciate in this book is when Terra saw a small girl who also has a birthmark on her face. She assured her that she's beautiful in her own way. I hope Terra's mark will be removed by the treatment she's undergoing and I really want a happy-ever-after with her and Jacob.

"You know, sometimes the most direst route isn't the right one."
"If there was one thing I refused to be, it was an insignificant footnote in some boy's history."
"There must be a few times in life when you stand at a precipice of a decision. When you know there will forever be a Before and an After."
"Maybe getting around in life was nothing but map-reading. A skill that required practice. A key to unlock where you wanted to go. A legend to show who you were."
"To dream, you need to starve doubt, feed hope."
"Physical beauty wasn't the same as True Beauty, any more than pretty ugly meant truly ugly or Magnetic North meant True North."

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