Terra has lived her entire life under a scrutiny. A port-wine stain on her cheek ensures she is always stared at when she goes anywhere, and her father's impossible standards prompt her to live by his impossible expectations. She lives for the day when she can finally leave home and head off to college, but is wrestling with conflicting feelings of excitement to begin her new life away from her father, and guilt at leaving her mother to fend for herself. But when Terra and her mother meet Norah and Jacob, their whole perspective on life is changed around, and with one eye-opening trip to China, Terra and her mother will each discover the strength and confidence they need to see their own beauty and self-worth.
Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful embodies beauty. Her keen insights and smooth, seamless style are a complete joy to read. Headley combines Terra's artistic talent and her father's profession of cartography to help illustrate every experience that Terra undergoes and enforce how it has affected her as a person and formed her concepts of true beauty. There are many aspects in North of Beautiful that will tear your heart in two: Terra's father domineering and condescending attitude, her disjointed family, and her mother who has been worn down into a subservient shell of a person. But these aspects strengthen the story and emphasize the beauty and wonder of Terra's search for love, acceptance, beauty, and ultimately, herself. Readers will easily be able to forget Terra’s birthmark and identify with her on a very personal level as she struggles to overcome self-doubt and criticism. Headley has written a book that is challenging, heartbreaking, and completely memorable.
Cover Comments: I like the head shot on this cover--there are a lot of headless covers, so this is a noce change. It's very pretty and bright, and I think it conveys the emotions that are covered in the book nicely. I also like the light compass that is over the model's head--it's a nice touch, espceially since Headley incorporates so many allusions and references to cartography.