Thursday, April 26, 2012

ARC Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful
Author: Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Publication: Walker Childrens; 1 edition (April 24, 2012)

Description: 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.

My Thoughts: I wasn't sure what to expect when I began this story but what I found was a compelling contemporary story about abuse from the victim's point of view. It was also a story about rebuilding a life after tragedy.

Allie is trying to get over the death of her boyfriend and get over the injuries she suffered. She has large gaps in her memory about the night she was hurt and Trip died. But what the rest of the world doesn't know is that, along with the grief Allie is feeling, she is also feeling relief that Trip is no longer around to abuse her. Trip was the handsome, rich, athletic golden boy of his high school. Allie was the newcomer to town who had already been in seven schools because her father was career military. When she saw him, she was dazzled that someone so wonderful would be interested in her. Of course, Hannah George, Trip's former girlfriend, cheerleader, and the most influential girl in school, is jealous and makes things hard for Allie at school. 

Gradually things start to go wrong and the cycle of abuse, apology, and presents begins. Allie doesn't tell because she doesn't think anyone would believe her and, besides, she is convinced it is her fault. If she were less clumsy or more able to be what Trip needs, he wouldn't hit her. She can't tell her twin brother Andrew about it. He has problems of his own with his cerebral palsy. She can't tell her mother because her mother is encouraging her to go out with Trip and she works for Trip's father. She can't tell her father because he hasn't been around much because of his military career. 

Then there is Blake Evans. Blake, Andrew and Allie have known each other since they were kids. Andrew and Allie used to spend time each summer in the town visiting their grandmother. But Blake has problems of his own. He is the son of a girl who ran away with a school teacher and returned a couple of years later with a drug problem and with him. She dumped him on his grandmother and disappeared only to reappear every few years just in time to mess up his life again. Most recently, his mom took Blake to Reno to live with her and a new husband but, after the marriage fell apart, Blake got into trouble and spend some time in juvenile detention for breaking and entering. That means that he has the reputation in town as a juvie and is an outcast in school himself. 

This was a very engaging story. It is filled with tension. When an investigator hired by Trip's father comes to town, a lot of pressure is put an Allie to try to reconstruct those last hours with Trip while still maintaining her secrets about how he treated her. It is also the story of moving on after a tragedy and finding out who really cares for her. I liked how the relationship between Blake and Allie plays out. 

I recommend this one to readers of contemporary fiction. I enjoyed it very much.

Favorite Quote:
I can't have anyone prying into my head, pulling out the secrets I don't want to share. Things I can't remember. Things I have to keep hidden. Since the accident my mind is so full of fuzz that I can't trust the lock on my brain.
I got this eARC from Walker Children's Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.


  1. Breaking Beautiful sounds so..great. I found out that the author's mentor is Angela Morrison - one of my favorite authors ever. That is one reason why I want to read this. But after reading your review, I'm convinced that I need to read this. This sort of reminds me of Winter Longing by Tricia Mills. Great review!

  2. This one looks so good! Great review.

  3. Love the premise of this one! Abusive relationship stories are so rare in YA, and I always love to read the stories of the aftermath of one. Thanks for the review!

  4. This one sounds good! Thanks for the review!


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