Featured Review: Beast by Brie Spangler
About this book:
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers. Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?
*Review Contributed by Kim Baccellia, Staff
What worked: I totally fell in love with this book. There are so many feels in this story-first love; breaking stereotypes; belief in yourself; and the power of love.This is a loosely retelling of the fairy tale BEAUTY AND THE BEAST only the beast is fifteen-year-old Dylan who is huge, tall, and nicknamed the 'beast'. After he falls from the roof of his house, he's sent to a therapy group where he meets Jaime. She's beautiful and doesn't take superficiality from anyone. Including him. Little by little he finds himself attracted to her but after he finds out her secret, that he tuned out on during his first therapy session, he struggles with his feelings. This is where the book grabs the reader big time. It shows the vulnerability of both characters but I love how it strips down the stereotypes out there. Dylan feels unlovable as he's 'ugly' and huge. When he meets someone who is honest with him and a romantic behind the realist mask, he is conflicted on why anyone might actually like him.Dylan has reason to doubt anyone's attention considering his so-called best friend JP uses him to get back at those who don't pay him back on campus. There's a scene where he overhears the girl he crushes on, tear him down, that is heart breaking. He's ashamed of how tall, big, and hairy he is. He runs up against those that 'assume' he's on the football team due to his built. In reality he's smart and dreams of going to college in England. Only no one sees that.There are other parts in this story that are equally heartbreaking like when he finds out the 'truth' in front of the school. I wanted to shout, "Dylan, don't do that!" I also loved Jaime something fierce. I loved her spunk, honesty, and even the times she opened up. She's someone that isn't the victim but rather a strong, positive character that I know readers are sure to connect with. This story isn't about her sexuality but rather how two unlikely characters can get over the stereotypes and hate out there and be together. If not as a couple, at least as good friends.Beautifully written tale that brings two together against odds that are stacked against them. Mostly though it's a story that shows that love is love, no matter who it is.
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