Breaking Beautiful

Breaking Beautiful
Genre(s)
Age Range
12+
Release Date
April 24, 2012
ISBN
0802723527
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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.

Editor review

1 review
Haunting & Unforgettable
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
What I Loved:

Everything. Seriously. This is a lovely, heartbreaking, uplifting, achingly honest debut that just consumed me from start to finish. The writing is beautiful without getting in the way of the story. The characters are flawed, authentic, and relatable. The setting works perfectly as a backdrop to the story. And hope is threaded throughout this often pain-filled narrative.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that Ms. Wolf understands what it feels like to be damaged, to make choices that seem right at the time only to have them blow up in your face later, and she isn't afraid to look those choices in the eye and carefully explore the aftermath. There were no easy answers in this book. No sudden revelations that made everything better instantly. Instead, this story plumbs the depths of grief, lies, and the damage we do to ourselves and others, and then dares to slowly climb out on the other side, dares to grasp a thread of hope with desperate fingers, and shows us that even when we think all is lost, we're worth redeeming. And my very favorite aspect of this book is that the redemption is REAL. It isn't easy, it isn't simple, and it costs the characters nearly as much as the initial wound did, but that's authentic.

I sat down late at night, intending to read only a few chapters and ended up consuming nearly half of the book in one sitting. I then finished it the very next morning because I couldn't bear to be away from the characters and their story. The family relationships are complicated but full of loyalty, love, courage, and occasional misunderstandings. The romance is fraught with difficulty, dedication, and heartbreakingly swoony moments that made me want to reach through the pages and just hug them both. And the murder mystery kept me on my toes, desperately turning the pages to figure out who did it.

What Left Me Wanting More:

Nothing. Just absolutely nothing. This was one of those "perfect for me" books that comes along so rarely.

Final Verdict:

BREAKING BEAUTIFUL is an achingly lovely portrayal of the cost of secrets, the damage we do to ourselves and others, and the rocky road to redemption. If I was still a high school English teacher, this would be on my required reading list. It's a stunning debut, and I highly recommend it.
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User reviews

3 reviews
Overall rating
 
4.6
Plot
 
4.7(3)
Characters
 
5.0(3)
Writing Style
 
4.0(3)
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A Book to be Devoured
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Can I just say that I devoured this book? It was impossible to put down. I was drawn in immmediately by Allie, her voice, and the mystery that was before her. The author does a fabulous job of keeping the reader guessing as she reveals layer by layer the mystery in its entirety. The setting of the beachside town of Pacific Cliffs was perfect for this story and lent to the puzzle. I had an easy time picturing it thanks to the vivid descriptions of the author. This book is an easy read yet suspenseful.
The story deals with abuse and the consequences of that. Writing about subject matter such as abuse, whether emotional, physical, or a combination of both, can be difficult. Wolf keeps it real and somehows manages to convey the details and Allie's struggles in a way that shows Wolf authenically understands her subject.
Breaking Beautiful is a treasure. I highly recommend this book; just make sure you are ready to pull an all-nighter.
Good Points
-Fresh story that keeps you guessing. Loved the twists and surprises.
-Draws you in quickly and will not let you go.
- Characters are real; the author does an amazing job of describing each character where they become not only believable but distinct.
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a striking surprise!
(Updated: May 22, 2012)
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
3.0
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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Heartbreaking Tale of Abuse
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
Breaking Beautiful captured my interest right from the beginning, and the continued to suck me more and more. Although the cover didn't capture my interest, I am impressed, now having read the book, with how much more accurate it is than most. Good job, Bloomsbury!

Breaking Beautiful is another one of those books that falls into the 'wonderful but so depressing it will feel like you're being eviscerated emotionally' category. I've been reading a lot of these lately, and apparently I love them, even though as a younger reader I mostly only liked happy books. I do not want to think too much about what this change in my tastes says about me.

Allie definitely doesn't handle things the way she should have. Sometimes I wanted to cry and ask her what she was thinking. BUT there is no way I could not feel completely sympathetic towards her. She behaved the way she did because she went through so much emotional and physical abuse. In no way will I judge her for not reacting a certain way. ALL of my rage goes to Trip and to all of the people who suspected what was going on and didn't say anything. Not to get all preachy, but seriously, ladies, do not let anyone do this to you. Or gents, too. No one deserves to be abused, and, if you suspect it, do something...carefully.

What made this book work, I think, was definitely Allie's character. In her every word and thought, you can feel the specter of Trip hanging over her head. Memories of him flit constantly through her head, judging her and terrifying her, continuing to hurt her in the only way he now can. His influence on her is so obvious; this is why we can relate to her so well, and feel with her.

Jennifer Shaw Wolf definitely made me tear up. This is a beautifully written book on an incredibly dark topic. If reading about abuse doesn't interest you, there's also a murder mystery. This book is beautiful, as suggested by the title, and excruciating. I highly recommend it to those who like dark YA stories with depth.
Good Points
Deals well with tough subject of abuse
Awesome guy
Accurate cover
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