Jun 11, 2012
Title: Breaking Beautiful
Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.
When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
BREAKING BEAUTIFUL was, in a word, beautiful. It’s one of those books where I got to the end of the first chapter and thought, Yes. This is going to be good. This is going to be beautiful and it is going to break my heart and it is hopefully going to put it back together. It is going to be tragic and mysterious and romantic.
And, of course, it is all those things.
The first thing I noticed was the great writing. So many times I read the back of a book and get so excited because it sounds great. . .only to be disappointed with subpar writing. So that’s why, when I started reading BREAKING BEAUTIFUL, I did a little dance in my seat because the writing read so smoothly and elegantly and, well, beautifully. It’s funny because I did think this book had a few cliches in it, like Allie being a bit of an outcast in a small town where everyone watches everyone. But because the writing was so great, the characters still became 3D and real, and aspects I might have found cliched otherwise, well, I didn’t.
I thought Allie was a very real character. I thought her experiences of being not only the victim of an abusive relationship, but trying to hide that abuse even after her abusive boyfriend is dead were well done and seemed real. The mystery aspect was also very captivating. It’s funny because this is one of those books that I wanted to read slowly because I didn’t want it to end, but I had to read it fast because I was so desperate to find out what really happened the night Trip died. And it all came together so beautifully and perfectly, I was not disappointed.
As well, I was totally captivated with Trip. Yes, Trip, the abusive boyfriend. I’m always drawn to the damaged characters like him because I want to understand why they do the things they do. It’s also interesting to compare Trip and Blake. Trip is known around their small town to be perfect, and no one knows the secret of his abuse toward Allie. Blake, on the other hand, comes from a scandalous background and everyone knows about his short stint in juvie, and yet, he’s the kind one, he’s the only one Allie can trust.
I also loved how the setting became a kind of character. Pacific Cliffs is a small town on the water where everyone knows everyone. Despite Allie’s attempts to move past and ignore the accident that killed Trip, Pacific Cliffs (both the location itself and the people) won’t let her. Pacific Cliffs is mysterious, it’s romantic, it’s dangerous, which is everything the novel is.
BREAKING BEAUTIFUL is the perfect book for contemporary YA fans. I really enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to see what else this author writes.