Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Release Date: 4/24/12
Synopsis from goodreads.com:
Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.
When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
My thoughts on the book:
Breaking Beautiful absolutely blew my mind. This novel will break your heart and give you hope all at the same time. This is definitely a book that every teenage girl and every mother of a girl needs to read. Wolf puts the reader into the mind of a girl who survived a car accident that killed her boyfriend. However, she can't remember the events of that night because they were too traumatic. As the story unfolds we learn that Allie is not only the survivor of the car accident, but she's also the survivor of an abusive relationship. Wolf does a wonderful job of showing the long-term effects of abuse while allowing the reader to see exactly why many abuse survivors become defensive once their abuser is finally out of their lives. This is a story that needed to be told, and apparently Wolf was just the person to tell it.
Allie used to be a fearless and happy teenager. She had to move around a lot, so she never got to make friends (other than Blake), but she wasn't miserable by any means. Once her father retires from the military, she and her family move to a small town where her mother grew up in order to settle down. Allie begins dating Trip, and that's when her life starts to fall apart. Trip is abusive and keeps her isolated from everyone and everything. He severely beats her, but she's afraid to tell anyone because she thinks no one will believe her. Trip is the richest guy in town, too, of course.
Allie's character may seem weak to some, but she's actually very strong. She's a survivor, and while she may not have made the best decisions, her reasoning for the decisions she made is understandable. She's flawed, but likable. Blake is a fantastic character, and he, too, is imperfect. However, he has a good heart, and I simply loved him. Andrew, Allie's twin brother is also another surprise. He isn't at all what he seems. He loves his sister immensely, and even though he's in a wheel chair, he still tries to protect her. Allie's parents are pretty stupid most of the time, and they kind of got on my nerves. The towns people, as a whole, pissed me off, but some of them were okay. Overall, all of the characters were unique and well-developed. There weren't any filler characters.
The plot was mysterious and suspenseful. I was kept on the edge of my seat throughout most of the book, and I could not put it down. I carried my Kindle around with me for a few days just so I could read in between classes. The pacing is pretty spot on, and other than the very beginning, I didn't find any parts that slow moving. I had a hard time pushing through for the first 10% or so because the dialogue was so choppy. I think that was done to show Allie's state of mind, though, since the narration is first person from her perspective. Once I got past the first little bit though, I was glad I pushed through. I usually don't like contemporary, but this one really grabbed me.
The topic of this novel is dark, but it's something that needs to be talked about. I truly believe that if a dialogue is opened up about things like this, then that will help put a stop to at least some of the cases of abuse. This is an important novel, and I'm glad that Wolf was brave enough to take on this topic. I applaud her for her bravery and amazing writing skills. You're an inspiration, Jennifer Shaw Wolf. Thank you for this novel.
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