Review Detail

4.6 3
Young Adult Fiction 2255
a striking surprise!
(Updated: May 22, 2012)
Overall rating
Writing Style
From the moment Allie awakens from the car accident, she is running from the truth. A truth that exposes the secret she’s been hoarding to protect her boyfriend, yes, and herself, from shame, humiliation, and doubt. Over the years this secret has cost her a friend so hugely a part of her heart, time with her family, her safety and independence in such a ghastly way, and still, when the new police chief begs for her and Trip’s shared truth, she can’t bring herself to confess. It’s painful and hard to read as a sweet and innocent and inexperienced Allie is lured into quiet traps of old memories she longs to bury but can’t be rid of. And, all the while, the friend she thought she lost is more determined than ever to bring her from the brink she teeters on.

Everyone believes that Allie is in mourning over the town’s Golden Boy but she couldn’t feel more relieved, or guiltier about his death. It’s easy to assume, at first—especially if the summary hasn’t been read, that her relationship with this boy was a happy one and one that’s brought her to her currently lost, depressed, and terrified state. But as her memories begin creeping up from behind closed closets and pieces of others’ suspicions about the nature of her relationship, our suspicion, in turn, grows and solidifies. We become investigators, eager to know what transpired. And once the truth flashes in full, we are devastated and horrified, and the frustration with everyone else in Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf arises, because it doesn’t take us very long to put two and two together and yet so many have remained blind for most of the book and long before recent events.

Allie has struggled for so long with something so dark, something that’s kept her hiding in the shadows, that we can’t help but rejoice when Blake, her childhood best friend, squirms his way back into her life. So many have tried to dissect her thoughts, pry into her mind, they never bother to warm and comfort her heart, and Blake does. Slowly, gently, and thoroughly in way that’s as nonintrusive as possible and still firm. He’s been as harshly hurt as she and by her, which makes it all the more bittersweet when he attempts to recover what they had and moved past it. It quickly becomes clear that it’s not Allie who is personally attacked and judged, but Blake as well, hastily labeled, overlooked, and insulted almost as constantly as she, swiftly inciting our rage, causing us to want to lash out at all their enemies.

Between the mystery of how Trip came to have that dreadful car accident to the assortment of crimes turning up in the town all suspiciously leading back to Blake, rather intentionally and obvious, I was thoroughly riveted and rooted in the story, wondering who was behind each individual crime of whether from the past or from the new beginning Allie’s living. The shock of answers found I had so badly sought kept me slack-jawed for quite a bit once I finished Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf, and that helped me to realize that, yes, I deeply enjoyed this book for all the emotions the story tugged out of my core.
Good Points
my thoughts in a few sentences: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf was a striking surprise, a contemporary read that reaches in and filleted my heart with slashing memories and circumstances that aggravate frustrated tears until they were falling everywhere. Have you ever watched the movie for or read the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson? The searing frustration on behalf of Melinda directed at the few people in her life who judge, mistreat, and refuse to believe her came rushing back to me in Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf. Allie’s telling quiet, instinctive flinches, and disloyal "friends" and family who have looked the other way while she was cut down and broken up in so many ways ignited my already boiling emotions to brimming. A gripping story with an engaging mystery, rending moments, and precious characters, Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf is a wonderfully-written and brutal tale of secrets refusing to stay under and a girl with nothing left but to move forward.
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