Book Title/Author: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publisher/Year: Walker Childrens – April 2012
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Other Books From Author: None
I received Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf for review by the publisher for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for my opinions. They are all my own.
What’s It About: Allie survives a horrific accident that claimed the life of her boyfriend Trip. Her memory as to what happened that night is gone but she knows it’s better to stay in the past because of the secrets she has kept about their relationship that makes grieving for him complicated. When suspicions arise about what really happened the night of their accident, her small town brings in a big time detective to investigate causing Allie to be even more cautious to keep her secrets guarded as rumors start flying about that night. Allie & her close friend Blake (pegged the town’s bad boy because of his troubled past) reconnect as helps her to cope with the accident which causes the town to talk. For Allie to move on, she knows she must try to remember that night but with that comes dredging up secrets she’s hidden for so long.
Breaking Beautiful was one of those intensely read books where I would absolutely devour huge chunks of it in one sitting — a lot like stuffing my face at Thanksgiving dinner. Jennifer Shaw Wolf holds you captive by slowly revealing Trip & Allie’s relationship and creating a sense of urgency that Allie feels as she struggles to remember that night. The speculation of what happened that night, at times, seems too much to bear and the author really knew where to hook you and keep you reading as Allie is facing these memories and what they mean. Not to mention, the budding romance between Blake and Allie factors in this mental list of “Things I Need To Know RIGHT NOW, Dammit” along with Blake’s involvement of that night. The tension of finding out the truth of what happened is what kept me reading. It was done really, really well as the tidbits we got about their relationship, about that night, about who else could have been involved were well placed and the memory loss element was done really well. It didn’t seem manipulative in the way I’ve seen in other cases.
However, despite my eagerness to find out what happened & the raving about this book I saw, it just didn’t hold up for me in other places. I really wanted to LOVE it. I thought I would. But there was just something that held me back from it. I think Allie herself was part of the problem. The girl is a mess and rightly so. She’s been through a horrible ordeal and has been a punching bag for one of the douchiest guys ever and she’s scared. So scared. And I get that. I do. Nobody knows Trip the way she does and she probably thinks nobody will believe her. But it just seemed like she put herself in the OTHER situations in the book (not the abuse part) and just was so MOUSY and timid and I wanted to pull her up and say “DO SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF, ALLIE.” She just seemed so frozen. I think that’s a good word for her — frozen. There just were a lot of places in the book where I didn’t understand her lack of action, her lack of opening her mouth. I just couldn’t fathom it especially when it affects people you love. And then when she DOES decide to do something, at the end of the story, it seems to me to be one of those most overly dramatic, dumb decisions. I felt horribly for her but I could never fully wrap my head around her. ALSO..it seemed like anything that could go wrong WENT wrong and I just felt like there was toooo much going on.
The other thing for me, and I’ve mentioned before that this happens a lot to me, is that I guessed the “twist” part decently early on and was right. I saw it coming a mile away but in talking to others who have read it — they honestly didn’t guess it! I think it’s just a ME problem but it felt so obvious to me and I was mad that I wasn’t wrong. I love when I’m wrong .
In the end it was a good read. I did enjoy it, loved the pacing of revelations as it kept me wanting more. I found myself lost in the story for large chunks of time without realizing it. It was emotional on so many different levels — in obvious and not so obvious ways. There were some really great secondary characters that made up for my frustrations with Allie. I just don’t think I LOVED this the way that other people did — could have been my frustrations for Allie, could have been how it DID drag at times, was overly dramatic at others. Not sure what it was — just felt like I should have been feeling more as it concluded. Something profound. But I didn’t.