Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review: Beautiful by Amy Reed

Tags: YA, sex, drugs, apathy

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


13-year-old Cassie moves to Seattle from a small town and decides to embrace a darker, more grown-up lifestyle. However, falling into sex and drugs and being called beautiful by older boys doesn’t seem to ease the pain that Cassie carries inside of insecurities and a dislike for her dysfunctional family. As she becomes more and more wrapped up by her manipulative “best friend,” others’ ideas of her, and her own helplessness, there seems to be no way out for Cassie.


There is something disturbingly haunting about BEAUTIFUL. Debut novelist Amy Reed writes Cassie’s dark story in a prose that stuns and lingers.

BEAUTIFUL is similar to edgy movies like Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen in terms of content, but it is nearly poetic in its descriptions. Reed’s writing allows Cassie to distance herself from all situations she doesn’t want to be in, while simultaneously letting readers into Cassie’s mindset. The result both characterizes Cassie and effectively draws us into her frightening world.

My main issue with this book was the lack of information we were given on Cassie’s past, which would’ve acted as a comparison to and justification of Cassie’s current behavior. Throughout the book Cassie hints at an unhappy life in her old town—but is she a former good girl rebelling against her past? What is her motivation for falling in with the crowd she does? It is unclear to me what drove her to engage in the lifestyle she does, which made connecting with the story a little difficult.

Even so, BEAUTIFUL is a great read if you can stomach the material. It’s eye-opening, gut-churning, and exquisitely written.

Similar Authors
Ellen Hopkins
Patricia McCormick
Beatrice Sparks
Elizabeth Scott

Writing: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Plot: 3/5

Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Cover discussion: 3.5 out of 5 - It's beautiful and bold, disturbing yet mesmerizing.

Simon & Schuster / Oct. 6, 2009 / Hardcover / 240pp. / $16.99

Won in a contest, asked to review by author.


  1. Great review, Steph. I've seen Thirteen, and the summary for this one did remind me of that so it's interesting to see you make that comparison. Sounds like one of those tough reads that is definitely worth it. I'm intrigued.

  2. Wonderful review! I've seen this book in the library before and it looked interesting!

  3. This is on my to-purchase list, and I can't wait to read it. When I saw the summary, I automatically thought of Thirteen (a movie I loved and was immensely horrified by all at once). Thanks for the review!

  4. Great review! I thought of Thirteen too, so I'm really curious about reading this one!


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