North of Beautiful

North of Beautiful - Justina Chen This book was a little hard to get into at first. But I liked the idea of it, so I decided to stick around. And after the first 50 pages or so, it got better. Some parts of it were beautifully written, some parts felt like they were there just so that the author could make the story last longer. And some of the ideas that I really loved weren't explored as they should have been. The narrator's voice bothered me, a well. There was just something off about it. The way she was telling the story made her thoughts sound really erratic, disjointed, like she was reading from her journal and she was skipping pages that were torn out.I would have probably enjoyed the book more if I liked Terra's character. But, I did not empathize with her, only on a few occasions. I did not like her personality or her decisions, even tough I do get where she's coming from. I know how it is to grow up in a dysfunctional environment. I also do know what's it like to grow up feeling ugly or just not good enough. I did not have a birthmark on my face, or a deformity of any kind, but being brought up in family like that makes you feel that there's something wrong with you. Even if you look like a completely average person, in your own little universe, you still feel the ugliest. However, I think that you have to overcome the traumatizing part of your upbringing and the unhealthy habits you might pick up and try to become a better person. You can learn how not to behave around people. And challenge the status quo. Stand up for yourself and stand up for others. As much as you can, in order to avoid becoming a bitter, passive-aggressive person yourself. And also, you can try to show people you care about them. It's so hard to do all this, but you have to try. Or, at least, you have to want to change. And I didn't see Terra trying or wanting. I didn't see her get any wiser or nicer. She was so self-centered and, at times, outright mean towards people. I felt that her birthmark was the only thing keeping her decent. But, at the same time, she was obsessing so much about it that at one point it became way too annoying. I've met people with issues like hers, maybe even worse, that could really qualify them as ugly. And no amount of make-up could fix that. Yet, they were warm, fun persons to be around with. They were terribly frustrated that they were born that way, but they fought not to let that dominate their lives. They had hobbies and they worked hard to be good at things and they made friends. They made friends because they were people you wanted to be around with despite the discomfort people felt about the way they looked. And I do get it that for some people it's harder than for others, but like I said before, I didn't even see her try. For her, almost everything revolved around her not being beautiful, despite that she had people that cared about her. She could have spent some of her energy nurturing them. I also thought her relationship with Erik was ridiculous. If he was such a tool what did she get out of being his girlfriend? If he was so ashamed of her and since they had absolutely nothing in common, why would she feel good about being with him? I do grasp on how she could have ended up giving this a shot at first, before Jacob appeared, but why would she continue dating Erik after she realizes what she is to him and what he is to her?Then, I really did not like the fact that she never stood up for her mom, at least in the mildest manner possible. She never tried to comfort her either. I felt she was so cold-hearted at times or just lacking any kind of backbone. I understand that she did not want to wake up the dragon and that she didn't want to challenge her dad because he was absolutely horrible and she was afraid of him. But she gave up way to easy on finding a solution to do her thing and keeping it away from her father, especially for a person that knew what she wanted to do with her life. I still don't know what to do with mine, and I still fought harder. I listen to my parents just enough to give them the illusion they still have a say in my life and keep them out of my business. I compromise just enough not to compromise myself and my principles. It's not a walk in the park, but at least I'm dealing with it. I didn't expect Terra to be great all the time or do all the right things, but she had so many flaws that I can't think about anything redeemable about her. Not even the pain she has to go through, because of the port-wine birthmark, can save the this character. I did not care about Jacob, even though I know I'm supposed to. He seemed flat to me, despite the many attempts at making him appear this smart, thoughtful, great guy. I did not care about their relationship either.I did care about her mother, but her arc was just a small percentage of the plot. Since, for the rest of it, the book was little more than about Terra, I can't say this is ending up on my favorites list. It's not a terrible book, definitely readable, but that's about it.