Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... Breaking Beautiful

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Just Finished Reading ... Breaking Beautiful



Breaking Beautiful

Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Bloomsbury Children's

April 24, 2012

Source: e-ARC through NetGalley, provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Mature content: As discussed in this post, I'm discontinuing this feature of my reviews for now. But if you ever have content questions, please email me!

Tagline: Does time heal all wounds?

My summary: Allie is still recovering from the accident that killed her boyfriend, Trip. She's got a nasty scar on her head and a case of amnesia. Her parents think it's high time she returned to school. The police want to hear her account of what happened that night. But Allie's only sure of one thing: no one in her small town wants to hear the truth: Trip wasn't the perfect boyfriend. Not by a long shot.

My thoughts: It's no spoiler to say that Trip was abusive. Allie may not recall the events of the accident, but she does remember that she was afraid of Trip, who hit and threatened her repeatedly. A large part of this book deals with Allie's attempts to regain her confidence and self-esteem. And to Jennifer Shaw Wolf's credit, this doesn't happen overnight. I'm no expert on this subject, but in Allie's flashbacks and memories, Trip seems to exhibit all the warning signs of an abuser: he's possessive, he isolates Allie from her friends, he loses his temper and then showers her with gifts and begs her forgiveness. As the book begins, Allie is broken, both physically and emotionally.

But this book is also a mystery, and its author does an excellent job of ratcheting up the tension as Allie -- and the reader alongside her -- tries to piece together the truth about what happened on the night of the accident.

The book's setting -- a small coastal town dependent on tourism after a mill closing -- is finely and fully drawn. I felt Allie's claustrophobia as all eyes in the town are upon her. Hannah, Trip's ex-girlfriend, is clearly still resentful. The brand new police chief, pressured by Trip's wealthy parents, wants Allie to come clean so he can close his case. The supporting characters are equally strong. A particular standout is Allie's twin brother Andrew, born with cerebral palsy after being deprived of oxygen at birth. Andrew may have physical challenges, but he's a vivid and integral part of the book. The only character who seemed one-dimensional to me was Hannah, who stays stuck in her mean-girl persona. I kept waiting for the moment in which Hannah grudgingly admits to Allie that Trip abused her too, but that never happened.

I had a bunch of theories about what actually transpired the night that Trip died -- all of them wrong. I love a book that can surprise me in so many ways. Jennifer Shaw Wolf is a talented writer, one I'll definitely have my eye on in the future!

Here are two other YA books about abusive relationships:

But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Stay by Deb Caletti


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I haven't read either of these. Have you? What did you think?

27 comments:

  1. This book sounds real good! I love a good mystery that surprises you! Thanks for the review! :)

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  2. This book sound interesting and deals with a current theme. This is something we all have to watch for, we have to make sure to choose the correct person and to have relationships were partners are equals.

    Also, great book recommendations.

    Jess@ Jessy's Bookends

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    1. I agree -- it can be a tough subject to read about, but I'm really glad that books like this are out there!

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  3. Now I want to read this and see if I can solve the mystery before the reveal. Nice review.

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    1. I know -- I can never decide if I prefer being pleased with myself when I figure it out, or if I'd rather be surprised.

      On Saturday I'm reviewing a book where I did figure out the big surprise. I liked that one too!

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  4. Awesome review!! I am almost done reading it now, and I still haven't figured it out yet, though I do have some theories. I will say that I found the beginning to be a bit slow, but I am really enjoying it.

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    1. When you're done, let's chat and compare notes. I had some pretty wild theories, but I was wrong!

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    2. I was right about some of it. I love a book that can keep me guessing almost until the end though! I really did enjoy it besides how slow the beginning was. You can email me if you want to chat. I think you already have my email, but if not here it is.

      alf421(dot)af(at)gmail(dot)com

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  5. I have such a hard time reading about abuse or rape when it is discussed in depth. It is just so ugly and wrong to me and makes me sad, so I normally skip these books. Thanks for the review - I may or may not pick this one up. :)

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    1. I completely understand how you feel.
      The one thing I'd say is that this book is much more about the recovery than about the abuse itself.

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  6. Great review! I love a book that I can't predict! And honestly, it's kind of sad, but the more broken a character is, the better. The abuse aspect seems really interesting :) I plan to read this book some time this month and now I can't wait.

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    1. I have to admire the way the author left open so many possibilities of what could have happened that night. I kept running through them in my mind. Maybe? Maybe?

      Be sure to let me know what you think after you read it :)

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  7. This sounds unpredictable - I love books that can still surprise me. I can't wait to read it! I'm going to look at the other recommendations too: the downside of love is that it clouds your judgement. Brilliant review!

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    1. Yes, I think that's right. Thanks so much for stopping by and let's hope these Blogger issues get worked out!!

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  8. This book sounds amazing! I have requested it from NetGalley, but haven't heard anything.

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    1. I've been hearing people say on Twitter that their NG requests are stalled -- mine too. Not sure what that's about :(

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  9. This sounds like a very interesting read. I will most likely be getting this when it is released.

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  10. Books that deal with issues like this are tough reads, but it sounds like you really liked this one. I'm especially interested in the twin brother. And I like that you included similar reads at the bottom of the post:) Oh, and I love that cover, it echoes the suspense/thriller themes in the book!

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    1. It is a beautiful cover, and really fits the book too!

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  11. Thanks for the review. I have heard only good things about the book but I guess I forgot what exactly it was about. Although it sounds heavy, I am excited to see how the subject is dealt with and to read a good mystery!

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    1. I thought it was very well done. Let me know what you think!

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  12. BREAKING BEAUTIFUL looks like a great read. I had not heard of it before this.

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  13. I some how missed this post! Wow...this book sounds really interesting and I definitely like a book that keeps you guessing about what will happen in the end. Adding to my TBR :-)

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    1. I bed you would like this one -- give it a try and let me know :)

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