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Sunday, November 21, 2010

North of Beautiful

Justina Chen Headley’s novel, North of Beautiful, is a powerful read for many reasons. It is currently on the 2010-11 Texas Lone Star reading list. Terra describes herself as being perfect in every physical way except for one. She camouflages this one physical defect, a port wine stain birthmark on one side of her face, with a lot of heavy makeup. Terra has had numerous procedures to remove her birthmark in the past to no avail. Terra’s birthmark isn’t her biggest problem. Her father, a cartographer (a person who studies maps), is a bitter and controlling man due to his own insecurities. He constantly verbally abuses her mother who has gained so much weight the past couple of years. He also doesn’t support Terra’s dream of going to an art school. Terra and her mother literally crash into a teenager, Jacob, who was adopted when he was a little boy from China and his mother, Nora. Headley does a superb job of embedding all of the elements of a map into this story – strong symbolism. In fact, Terra and her mother join Jacob and Nora on a trip to China – the very country that brought upon Terra’s father’s failure as a cartographer. Terra will fall in love along the way and discover what beautiful really means. Justina Chen Headley also has a teen network website called readergirlz. Click on the book trailer below for more about the book.

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