From blogger BookChick:
Take a deep breath and steel yourself for Amy Reed’s debut novel “Beautiful.” It’s beautiful for sure, but it’s not easy, nor is it supposed to be. Consider the verbs Reed uses: punched, scraped, gutted, crush, explode, smash, destroy, cutting, burning, scarring. But really, what better words are there to describe thirteen-year-old Cassie’s harrowing descent into the world of drugs, alcohol, abuse and the sex she wishes she weren’t having?
“Beautiful” is a gut check of a young adult novel. It’s the slippery slope of how one choice, one decision marks the line between the good road and the very wrong path. Neither drugs, nor alcohol nor thirteen-year-olds with their legs spread are glorified here. Instead, Reed depicts with a stark kind of poetry how Cassie is ripped apart by each and every decision she makes or doesn’t make. “Beautiful” is a living, breathing organism. With sharp, shattering emotions, the novel reads like a memoir so you feel a part of it, Cassie’s pain your pain, the novel’s pulse the fear of a crash and burn.
Or maybe not.
Because, remember that for a novel like this to work, there has to be redemption. Where and how and if Cassie can find a way out is what will keep you turning the pages. That, and the hope that she will.
It’s rare that I will quote from the actual text in my recommendations, but “Beautiful” is true to its title so share I must. Here are some of the parts I read over and over:
“At first I see a shadow, a blue-black shadow on ribs and side and stomach. But the shadow becomes liquid, a lake of blood under the surface, pain turned into pigment. Then it is solid, bruised flesh stretched over porcelain bones.”
“But not because of the usual reasons I don’t speak, not because I am concrete and my mouth is stuffed with glass.”
“I am not the girl with the fire or the shovel. This is not my forest. These are not my doll parts burning, not my legs, my arms, my head, my smooth pink torso.”
“This is what I am now: beautiful, with this new body and face and hair and clothes. Beautiful, with this erasing of history.”
From YA author and blogger Courtney Summers:
It's hard to know exactly how to describe Beautiful in a way that will do it justice. Alice down the rabbit hole. Amazing.
First things first: what Daisy said here. I especially agree with her when she says Beautiful reads like a memoir. It does and that makes it almost unnerving at times. It's almost like a memoir you don't have permission to read, if that makes sense--that's how personal it is.
Amy Reed has tapped into a voice that will haunt you. You will ache for Cassie, you will want to help her, you will hold your breath while you wait to see if she makes it out alive. It's very hard to put down.
I finished this book in a day. I thought I'd read for a bit before I went to bed, but 150 pages flew by before I knew what happened. When I paused to get some sleep, all I could think about was what was going to happen next and how I needed to know what happened next, even though I was afraid to know. And can I just say, I've NEVER wanted a character to be okay as badly as I did Cassie.
Beautiful is a powerful novel that will scare the hell out of parents who don't know any better and speak to girls who know all too well.