Author: Justina Chen Headley
Publication Date: 2/1/09
Publisher: Little Brown
Blurb (GR):As he continued to stare, I wanted to point to my cheek and remind him, "But you were the one who wanted this, remember? You're the one who asked-and I repeat-'Why not fix your face? '"
It's hard not to notice Terra Cooper. She's tall, blond, and has an enviable body. But with one turn of her cheek, all people notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to leave her stifling small town in the Northwest and escape to an East Coast college, but gets pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision puts Terra directly in Jacob's path, the handsome but quirky Goth boy immediately challenges her assumptions about herself and her life, and she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?Written in lively, artful prose, award-winning author Justina Chen Headley has woven together a powerful novel about a fractured family, falling in love, travel, and the meaning of true beauty.
Once upon a time, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning while sitting under the covers in a darkened air force base hotel, watching a PBS Nova special about the magnetic poles. (hold on while I push up my nerd glasses) The people I was with were all asleep but I was watching it, flabbergasted, and wanting to wake them up--because I never knew, until that moment, that what we know as magnetic north and south have changed several times in the history of Earth. Can you imagine? Obviously it blew my mind. And we're overdue for another change! (Here's the link if you are interested: Your Mind Blown)
Anyway, the point of this story is that this book has a map and discovery theme that I found totally refreshing. Though the story is one of self discovery and relationship evaluation, I felt like the author did an amazing job of making the story original and the characters believable and multidimensional. After reading, I can say that this book evoked the same sort of reaction from me that I felt after reading Saving Francesca--I really enjoyed it and moreso because it dealt with heavier issues in a realistic way. In this novel, the protagonist is a girl who has a large portwine stain birthmark on her face which resulted in teasing from her peers and low self-esteem. While she does come into herself, and that is the largest focus of the book, the storyline I felt most involved in was that of the family dynamics.
The way Justina Chen Headley writes family scenes is so real that I actually cried thinking about how heart-wrenching being in that situation would be. Each member of a family has a different impact on your life and Headley's writing made me think about where the pressures in my life are coming from--good and bad--and how the failure of someone in your family can devastate other people nearly as much as the person who failed at something. And, in the same vein, one person's negativity or rudeness can ruin an adventure/day/dinner for the entire family. (Boy, do I ever know what that is about...)
Headley wove so many interesting tidbits into this story that I really can't talk about them all, but here are a few more topics that I found of particular interest:
*Cartographers drew dragons and sea monsters in sections of the oceans on maps to keep people from going to those areas. (who knew?!)
*As adults, I feel we accept a lot more quirks in people. It saddens me to think how many people feel left out in high school.
*Headley mentions a mnemonic device to remember the streets in downtown Seattle! Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest (Jefferson, James, Cherry, Columbia, Marion, Madison, Spring, Seneca, University, Union, Pike, Pine)
*I want to go geocaching.
I definitely recommend it but beware, the love interest is goth. At first, I didn't get it, but I really came to like him by the end. You will, too.