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Thursday, April 26, 2012
"Breaking Beautiful" by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher: Walker Children's
Age Group: Young Adult
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.
I am having a hard time coming up with the right words to describe the emotions from this book. It was such an excellently written story with so much sadness and a lot of mystery woven in. I both liked and didn't like being in Allie's head the whole time. It was her story, so having it told from her point of view made it feel a little like my experience, too. I got to remember things right along with her and reliving the experiences from her perspective made it feel more real. Unfortunately, a lot of the things that Allie had gone through were so heartbreaking and terrifying. I completely understand why she wasnt' trying harder to remember the things she'd blocked out, because the things she did remember were awful.
I don't want anyone to think this was a dark and depressing book, because it wasn't. It's not a light and easy read, because there are a lot of tough issues to be dealt with, but there is growth and hope woven in there too. Allie starts off with everyone blaming her for Trip's death and everything that she does is scrutinized and held against her. She's also got someone leaving creepy notes in her locker, which adds to the overall mystery of the book. The biggest mystery is about how Trip died and the only one who was there, is Allie. Unfortunately, Allie can't remember anything about that night. It's terrifying when you can't remember something so horrible, it's even worse when you aren't sure if you are the one responsible.
Most people weren't on Allie's side, but she did have a few people who never left her corner. Her brother Andrew was such an excellent character. He suffers from Cerebral Palsy, and has a hard time with things that come so easy to others, but he loves Allie so much and she feels the exact same way about her. I love reading about siblings who not only really care about each other, but are also best friends. They didn't always get along, but in the end the two of them always stick together. Then there is Blake. He and Allie have known each other since they were very young, and he tries his hardest to be there for her after everything happens, even while she keeps pushing him away.
This story was completely engrossing and really well written. I didn't fall in love with all of the characters, in fact I kind of despised half of them, but that's the point. Not everyone is understanding and kind, but you learn to move on and live without caring what they think. Allie was a great character to go on this journey with and I had so much emotion for her by the end. I definitely recommend this for anyone who likes a solid contemporary and a little mystery. I cannot wait to see what Jennifer Shaw Wolf has in store for us next!