Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined… one moment, one choice, changes everything.
Cassie’s new existence both thrills and terrifies her. Swept into a world of illicit parties and social landmines, she sheds her virginity, embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, and floats through it all, knowing that she is now called beautiful. She ignores the dangers of her fast-paced life… but she can’t sidestep the secrets and the cruelty.
Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.
One day Alex does notice her and introduces her to a whole new life. A life that involves sex, drugs, and cruelty. Cassie new existence has her walking around numb but at least she's noticed as the beautiful girl.
But at what cost?
This is a very haunting tale of a thirteen-year-old girl who ends up hanging with the wrong crowd. Her parents seem indifferent to her pain, which only has her searching for the attention in other ways. Cassie's experiences with drugs and sex are raw and gritty. Reed holds nothing back when she describes Cassie's first sexual experience to the first time she does acid. Though intense at times, the writing is such you don't want to stop reading.
A must read that belongs next to Ellen Hopkin's CRANK. Cassie's journey will haunt you.
Initially what drew me into this was the writing. Reed’s style is absolutely phenomenal. It’s the sort I look for in my YA reads. As a genre, YA doesn’t do much for me character development-wise, and I’m not too picky about plots. So it all comes down to the writing. Authors like Markus Zusak and Tahereh Mafi are what I like about YA, and what keeps me coming back. Amy Reed and Beautiful easily matched up to their standards.
Some stand-out quotes:
“There is a picture of me in their heads, a picture of someone I don’t know yet. She is not the chubby girl with the braces and bad perm. She is not the girl hiding in the bathroom at recess. She is someone new, a blank slate they have named beautiful. That is what I am now: beautiful, with this new body and face and hair and clothes. Beautiful, with this erasing of history.”
“Smoke is not chasing me and making my eyes sweat. My eyes are not burning. I am not crying. I am not standing behind my mother and she is not facing the wall and she is not saying, ‘Smoke follows beauty.’
Smoke follows beauty. Smoke follows beauty. Smoke follows beauty.”
Just wow, you guys.
Like Amy Efaw’s After, this book deals with a less-than-nice situation. And while Reed doesn’t justify or applaud Cassie’s actions in any way, it makes them understandable to a reader who’s never been in a similar position. That’s what I love about realistic, contemporary YA. Authors like Efaw and Reed make ugly things readable. They don’t condone the ugly things, but they make them accessible.
I mean, it’s one thing to hear about a seventh grader having sex and using drugs and hanging out with abusive friends, but it’s something else entirely to connect that reality to something that actually happens. Amy Reed’s Beautiful does that.
Verdict: This book is harsh and unnerving. It deals with real issues and doesn’t apoligize for it. The combination of honesty and lyric writing was a killer for me. If you can deal with uncomfortable situations, I definitely recommend reading this one.
Beautiful started as a book about a girl who was in a whole new atmosphere. Smart and unsure about herself Cassie is approached one day by a girl. A ninth grade girl who introduces her to a whole new world. A new, and dangerous world. I personally felt that I could really connect with Cassie through everything she was feeling. I felt as if I was in the room with her at Ethans house the music blasting in the room next door as they were interrupted several times. I felt as if I could feel her silent fear as she went to go retrieve acid before going to Ethans. Amy Reed is a magician with the words for this book was woven together beautifully. As a 13 year old girl having to move from one school where everything is set one way for so long to a new school were everything is opposite Cassie tells her story. Her story of her parents unhappy relationship. Her mothers depression. How she deals with never fitting in. How she becomes socially and emotionally numb. The story was told with shocking detail causing gasps to escape from me as I read. This story was eye opening and shocking. It showed me a silent world that had been hidden from me up until now. Everything is so different and strange as the story constantly builds. Drugs, sex, suicide, lies, and so much more weasel their way into this story at every chance they get.