Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life’s Compass

North of Beautiful

Written by: Justina Chen Headley

Released: February 1, 2009 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Summary: 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?

First of all, this book was full of overly large words and many map references. In fact, the entire book is full of all things maps. Funnily enough, this didn’t detract from the book as a whole. The way that the maps were worked into the story was done flawlessly – at least I thought so – and though it was a little daunting at times, it was nice to learn things that I never even thought about.

The story itself was fairly simple with several more complex nuances. I mean, story about a girl who is almost perfect except for one flaw, who has to deal with things (i.e. family members) working against her. She falls in love only to not want to leave the safe niche that she’s made for herself. Basic, yes, but the way that it was done was different.

Never before have I ever read about a character who had to deal with a Port Wine Birthmark that takes up half of her face. The snowball effect that comes from it: the bullying, the snide comments from her father, the feeling that she can’t do any better than her good boyfriend, the constant interference from others to have her face “fixed”, the compensation of being perfect body-wise otherwise – it was realistic. People are inherently mean and that was shown rather well with this. This fact was also elaborated through the use of other characters and their own personal physical flaws, like Jacob.

I thought that this book had a good message; beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that the way that it reflected that onto the art that the main character created just enunciated it even more. It also had the message that you shouldn’t stick with something just because you’re scared of what will happen if you lose it.

I liked this book for the most part but I did think that it dragged on every now and then. It was a nice read but I don’t think that I would read it again. Overall, I give it a 5/10.

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