Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Publisher: Bloomsbury/Walker Children's Books
Publication Date: April 24th, 2012

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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

This is a 2012 debut that I have had my eye on for awhile. The title, the synopsis, the cover; all of it called to me, saying,"If you have to read something contemporary, this should be it!".  I'm not typically a big fan of the genre, but this book sounded really good to me.  As I began reading it, I started to get an uneasy feeling like my expectations were too high.  The first few chapters were confusing, and to be honest, my high hopes for this book began to falter... Then it clicked.  I spent the rest of the book frantically reading, not wanting to put this book down, needing to know what the deal was.  What I thought was going to be a contemporary read, full of emotion and grief, turned out to be a kick-ass mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  Yes, it had some elements of contemporary fiction, and it was definitely heavy on the emotion, but it was so much more!  The story was excellent, the characters were flawed and relatable, and the pacing was dead-on.  I went back and forth between who I thought may have done what and whether or not everything was in Allie's head.  I felt queasy (in a good way) when things would turn out to be entirely different than I could have ever expected.  I was down with strep throat the week that I read this, and I have never been happier to lay in bed sick.  I wish I could share more, but I would hate to spoil any of this book; I want you to be on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, just like I was!

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book has some pretty heavy themes, but is very real in how they are dealt with.  There is some language, domestic abuse, teen drinking, etc.  I would say that this is for grades 8 and up (ages 13+).


  1. Thanks for the review. It's nice to know up front that I will have to stick with it before it gets interesting.

  2. Great review! The ending surprised me to. Very interesting plot, slowly unfolded. Excellent.

    1. I spent a good part of the book thinking that Trip was alive and messing with her, but I never really saw the end coming at all!

  3. Hi there! Made my way over from the Southern Book Bloggers page and wanted to say hi, from a fellow ATL YA book blogger. I blog over here: http://anonymeet.livejournal.com/

    This is a lovely review. I've been on the fence about this one, but your review really piqued my interest. I could use a kick-ass mystery!

    1. Hi Gilly! I'm the one who just sent you First Comes Love, and I get to send you Hemlock when I',finished as well! Yes- when I started this book, I wasn't sure, but it really did come together well. Just expect a slowish start.

      Nice to "meet" you! Hopefully we'll meet in person sometime soon (at DBF in September, at the very least!). Will you be at Jackson Pearce, Jen Calonita, and Liz Eulberg this weekend at Little Shop of Stories?

  4. Thank you for a great review. This book had caught my eye some time ago and it's great to read that people are liking it so much.


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