North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headly | Teen Ink

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headly

January 14, 2011
By stellabella21 BRONZE, Cambridge, Massachusetts
stellabella21 BRONZE, Cambridge, Massachusetts
1 article 1 photo 22 comments

What is beautiful? Is it a supermodel, a sunset or a shiny car, dream, a wish or an idea? Is it music, sports, or a good book you can’t put down? True beauty could be one of these things or it could be something else, because true beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. North of Beautiful, Justina Chen Headly’s wonderful novel, explores what true beauty really is and what it comes to symbolize.

North of Beautiful examines the life of a teenage girl fighting a battle with her “imperfect” face and her own true beauty. Terra tries everything to “fix”, her face. After going through six doctors and eight treatments of lasers and surgery, Terra’s face remains unchanged. One day after driving home with her mother from the newest laser treatment Terra stops for coffee and while parking the car skids on black ice and throws a boy named Jacob into Terra’s life. Jacob, a boy adopted from china, is the Goth boy in the black jacket with the scar above his upper lip. He is the opposite of everything Terra has ever known and is also exactly what Terra needs. As Jacob and Terra grow closer, Terra begins to feel stronger about Jacob then she ever thought she would. But, when her father’s put-downs reach an all time high and Terra’s brother leaves early for China after not having seen his family for three years. Jacob takes Terra geocaching something that Terra has never done before, and when they discover a geocache in Terra’s backyard they begin to wonder who put it there and why? Soon after this Terra receives plane tickets to China somewhere further away from home than Terra has ever been will she speak up to her father and go without his permission and discover her own true beauty or will she shrink back and miss the opportunity of a lifetime? You’ll have to read North of Beautiful to find out.

Justina Chen Headly writes in a very easy to read style because the story is told from only one character’s point of view, whereas in other books when there are multiple characters telling the story, it can be much more confusing and harder to understand. North of Beautiful is also present day realistic fiction so it is written in a moderately easy to read genre. However I also think that it was written in this way for a reason and that reason so being that because the book is easier to read it gives you more time to think about the message that the book is trying to convey. I also think that the book was written in this writing style because it can be relatable to more people.
The message that I took away from this book is that our world is very superficial and that true beauty is sometimes found where you least expect it. This message is repeated throughout the book. An example of our superficial world would be on page five when Terra has a flashback of the first time someone called her ugly, she was in her tiny tots ballet class when “Alicia complains, ‘But Miss Elizabeth, Terra is too ugly to be a princess.’” This shows that even little four year olds can be superficial and to them maybe even more so than to us everything is about what you look like. I think that throughout the book the author also explores that people have a tendency to want things to be pretty and perfect and nice and clean. The way we think things or people should look especially because there is almost a superficial definition of what we think is beautiful and where these beautiful things are that we sometimes forget to look in other places and that humans have missed seeing beautiful things because they didn’t know where to look. In conclusion I think that the message people should take away from this book is that this world is so superficial and all we care about is what is on the outside and sometimes we fail to realize what is truly beautiful.
I enjoyed this book because not only was it superbly written with just the right amount of humor and relate ability but also kept me reading and was not boring or dry. I would recommend this book to anyone likes realistic fiction and stories with a message that keeps you thinking long after you finished the book. I would give this book a four point eight out of five star rating because there is always room for improvement and because I think it might have been more interesting to read the book from more than one person’s point of view. I like the author’s writing style and think that this book is well worth your time. All in all North of Beautiful is a jewel among jewels and is relatable to people everywhere.
In conclusion I love this book and I think that if you are in search of an interesting novel that will keep you reading under the covers this is the one. Justina Chen Headly’s novel examines what true beauty symbolizes and really is. What is beautiful to you? Is it a mansion, a shiny car, or music? Is it a sunset, a dream or a good book? Whatever true beauty is to you I guarantee that you will enjoy and appreciate North of Beautiful as much as I did and that you will finish reading the book with a different idea of what true beauty really is.

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