Ordinary Beauty

 
0.0
 
4.3 (1)
1238 0
Ordinary Beauty
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
14+
Release Date
June 14, 2011
ISBN
1439193967
Buy This Book
      
I really hadn't even heard of this one, but I have always wanted to be part of a book club, so when I learned about the Not So YA Book Club I had to be a part of it. This was their book for September, so I checked the library and they DIDN'T HAVE IT. Epic tragedy. So I checked Amazon and HURRAH! They had it for like 5 bucks. So I bought it and some other books, not expecting much, but deeming it worthwhile for the overall experience.

Turns out, though, that I really liked this. When I was a teen and up until a few months ago, I really shied away from 'issues books,' because they're depressing and who needs that from your escapist reads, right? Plus, I'm pretty sure I assumed they were all like Lurlene McDaniel or something, disgustingly sappy and unrealistic. After reading a couple though, I realized that I actually LOVE the incredibly heartrending contemps that make all of the people with souls cry, though I generally don't.

Ordinary Beauty is almost unrelentingly depressing. The overall tone is one of despair and desperation. Sayre Bellavia has had an awful, awful life, all because of the influence of her drug addict mother. Ordinary Beauty focuses on that relationship. Some other things happen and some other characters do matter, but what it really comes down to is Sayre and her mother.

Impregnated at 15, already a party girl and maker of bad decisions, Sayre's mother decided to have her baby, I think mostly because she only realized she was pregnant when it was too late to do anything about it. The news of Sayre's impending birth caused the grandfather to keel over for one reason or another, throwing the pampered daughter into a spiral and serious drug abuse from which she never recovered. The mother always resents Sayre for destroying her life, never shows any motherly tenderness, which Sayre can never stop craving. I wanted so badly to shake her and get her to freaking leave and go ANYWHERE.

Luckily, Sayre spent the first seven years of her life in a fairly stable environment, living with her grandmother and not her mom. This gave her a fairly normal outlook, and perhaps spared her from some of the worst emotional scars. However, most of the rest of her life has been a succession of dirty houses, abuse (mostly verbal) and neglect.

The story alternates between numbered chapters, the present timeline, in which Sayre's mother is dying from, well, basically her life, and titled chapters that are her reflections on the past inspired by the mom's impending death. Because it's not linear, we know that, even when times get better, that even worse things are ahead for Sayre, so there's some major dramatic irony going on. Also, even though I essentially knew what was coming, I really didn't guess how it would happen.

The whole group had some issues with the book, each of us struggling with Sayre's normalcy and with some of the situations in the book. One that we all doubted was that Sayre's mom would go to the hospital and receive Oxycontin, even though she'd been sent to rehab in the past for drug abuse. Even though I did look askance at a number of things like that, they didn't really subtract from the reading experience too much, because I got so caught up in Sayre's story.

The ending, though. The ending just felt so rushed and out of left field. The rest of the book was so sad and then all of a sudden there's a happy ending? What? Plus, there are some sort of dropped plot lines and some skipped time and it's just really unclear. Sayre just magically gets over everything so fast and this, I felt, was the most unrealistic part of the book, little inconsistencies aside. Much as I want Sayre to have a happy ending, it should not have been so idyllic, so untempered by her painful past.

Overall, I still really, really liked this, and now want to read all of Wiess's other books. I think everyone in the book club liked it, though most of them sobbed and don't want to read another sad book for like a year. I, however, want more of them.

User reviews

1 reviews

Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0  (1)
Characters 
 
4.0  (1)
Writing Style 
 
5.0  (1)
Already have an account? or Create an account
Beautiful and Depressing
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I really hadn't even heard of this one, but I have always wanted to be part of a book club, so when I learned about the Not So YA Book Club I had to be a part of it. This was their book for September, so I checked the library and they DIDN'T HAVE IT. Epic tragedy. So I checked Amazon and HURRAH! They had it for like 5 bucks. So I bought it and some other books, not expecting much, but deeming it worthwhile for the overall experience.

Turns out, though, that I really liked this. When I was a teen and up until a few months ago, I really shied away from 'issues books,' because they're depressing and who needs that from your escapist reads, right? Plus, I'm pretty sure I assumed they were all like Lurlene McDaniel or something, disgustingly sappy and unrealistic. After reading a couple though, I realized that I actually LOVE the incredibly heartrending contemps that make all of the people with souls cry, though I generally don't.

Ordinary Beauty is almost unrelentingly depressing. The overall tone is one of despair and desperation. Sayre Bellavia has had an awful, awful life, all because of the influence of her drug addict mother. Ordinary Beauty focuses on that relationship. Some other things happen and some other characters do matter, but what it really comes down to is Sayre and her mother.

Impregnated at 15, already a party girl and maker of bad decisions, Sayre's mother decided to have her baby, I think mostly because she only realized she was pregnant when it was too late to do anything about it. The news of Sayre's impending birth caused the grandfather to keel over for one reason or another, throwing the pampered daughter into a spiral and serious drug abuse from which she never recovered. The mother always resents Sayre for destroying her life, never shows any motherly tenderness, which Sayre can never stop craving. I wanted so badly to shake her and get her to freaking leave and go ANYWHERE.

Luckily, Sayre spent the first seven years of her life in a fairly stable environment, living with her grandmother and not her mom. This gave her a fairly normal outlook, and perhaps spared her from some of the worst emotional scars. However, most of the rest of her life has been a succession of dirty houses, abuse (mostly verbal) and neglect.

The story alternates between numbered chapters, the present timeline, in which Sayre's mother is dying from, well, basically her life, and titled chapters that are her reflections on the past inspired by the mom's impending death. Because it's not linear, we know that, even when times get better, that even worse things are ahead for Sayre, so there's some major dramatic irony going on. Also, even though I essentially knew what was coming, I really didn't guess how it would happen.

The whole group had some issues with the book, each of us struggling with Sayre's normalcy and with some of the situations in the book. One that we all doubted was that Sayre's mom would go to the hospital and receive Oxycontin, even though she'd been sent to rehab in the past for drug abuse. Even though I did look askance at a number of things like that, they didn't really subtract from the reading experience too much, because I got so caught up in Sayre's story.

The ending, though. The ending just felt so rushed and out of left field. The rest of the book was so sad and then all of a sudden there's a happy ending? What? Plus, there are some sort of dropped plot lines and some skipped time and it's just really unclear. Sayre just magically gets over everything so fast and this, I felt, was the most unrealistic part of the book, little inconsistencies aside. Much as I want Sayre to have a happy ending, it should not have been so idyllic, so untempered by her painful past.

Overall, I still really, really liked this, and now want to read all of Wiess's other books. I think everyone in the book club liked it, though most of them sobbed and don't want to read another sad book for like a year. I, however, want more of them.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

City of Spells (Into the Crooked Place, #2)
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
City of Spells, the follow-up to Alexandra Christo's gritty YA...
Christmas Parade
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
A delightful Christmas board book filled with hilarious characters and...
Best Friend in the Whole World
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Roland lives a quiet life filled with books, music, and...
Bird Show
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Award-winning author-illustrator Susan Stockdale welcomes you to the Bird Show,...
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
He saw the darkness in her magic. She saw...
My Book of Feelings (My World)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Inspired by the Montessori method of education this unique board...
Sweet & Bitter Magic
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
In this charming debut fantasy perfect for fans of Sorcery...
My High School Rebel Boyfriend
 
3.8 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
He’s a rebel with a cause… to make my...
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
From New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel comes...
Dark Stars
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Dorothy finds herself completely alone. Roman is dead. The...
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
For fans of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera, this...
Daughter of Darkness
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
She is destined to kill a demon. He is...
The Smile Shop
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Critically-acclaimed author-illustrator Satoshi Kitamura (Hat Tricks) celebrates the value of...
Stanley's Lunch Box
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Everyone’s favorite hard-working hamster Stanley introduces young readers to a...
What Are Unicorns Made Of?
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
Have you ever wondered what unicorns are made of? Are...
Grandfather Bowhead, Tell Me a Story
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Richly illustrated and lovingly told, this book is a warm...

Latest Member Reviews

City of Spells (Into the Crooked Place, #2)
 
4.7
"CITY OF SPELLS is a stunning conclusion to an enthralling YA fantasy duology. The book plunges us into the story..."
The Project
 
4.7
"What worked: This is one intense psychological tale of a girl trying to reconnect with her sister after she joins..."
Sweet & Bitter Magic
 
4.7
"SWEET & BITTER MAGIC is a lush and enthralling YA fantasy filled with magic, pain, and love. In this world,..."
Sing Me Forgotten
 
5.0
"SING ME FORGOTTEN is an enchanting, compelling, and unexpected YA fantasy retelling of Phantom of the Opera. In this world,..."
The Valley and the Flood
 
4.3
"Rose Colter is adrift. She can't be where she was staying for the holidays but she can't go home yet..."
Perfect on Paper
 
5.0
"PERFECT ON PAPER is a delightful YA romantic comedy. Darcy has been operating Locker 89 at her school for years...."
11 Paper Hearts
 
4.3
"Reviewed for YA Books Central A super cute and sweet story. The story: A year ago, a..."
shine your icy crown
 
3.3
"shine your icy crown by amanda lovelace is a 129-page collection of contemporary poems. It’s the second book in the..."
The Castle School (for Troubled Girls)
 
4.3
"THE CASTLE SCHOOL (FOR TROUBLED GIRLS) is a story of healing and friendship. Moira has been cast adrift since the..."
Go the Distance
 
5.0
"Hercules proved he was a true hero and became a god like his parents, Zeus and Hera. Meg is thrilled..."
Follow Your Arrow
 
4.3
"FOLLOW YOUR ARROW is a heartfelt read about love, breaking up, and being true to yourself. CeCe has made a..."
Down Comes the Night
 
4.3
"DOWN COMES THE NIGHT is an intriguing, slow-burn YA fantasy. Wren is a healer in the military of her queendom,..."