North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Review by Grayson, Sebastopol, 9th grade
If you saw Terra from the back, you would think she is gorgeous. But if you saw her from the front, you’d think she’s extremely “flawed.” The entire left side of her face is cover by a huge red birthmark, called a port-wine stain. Terra tries to be a perfect high schooler, but underneath the heavy concealer and makeup, she feels like an outsider. To make matters worse, her father is abusive and controlling. All Terra wants to do is escape to college to study art, but her father decides that art is a waste of time and he insists that she attend the university of his choice. Heartbroken, Terra meets a beautiful goth boy named Jacob, who helps Terra begin to accept herself and see what beauty really is.
This book makes you think of beauty, and how our society and media define it. Every girl struggles to live up to the definition of beauty and the pressure to look and be like everyone else. As Terra says It had taken me until this moment, until I created this collage, to realize that the magazine world vision of beauty had the exact opposite effect on me, shriveling me so that I only paid attention to my own imperfections. Enough with that.
What does beauty mean to you?