Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Breaking Beautiful ~ Jennifer Shaw Wolf review

Breaking Beautiful
Walker Children's
April 24, 2012
354 pages

Allie's small town of Pacific Cliff's is mourning the death of her boyfriend, its golden boy, Trip. Trip died in the accident that sent his truck plunging off the seaside cliff - Allie survived but with no memory of the night or the accident.

Now, as she's recovered enough from her injuries to return to school nearly everyone seems to expect her to miss Trip as much as they do and in the same way. Only, while Allie might not be able to remember the night of the accident - the cotillion dance, the drive afterwards - she does remember the abuse she suffered at the hands of Trip. The abuse seemingly no one knew about.

With a new detective in their sleepy town, there to reopen the investigation into Trip's death, will Allie be able to continue to keep her secrets? And will she ever remember what happened the night of the accident? 

Will she even want to?

Breaking Beautiful is so much more than a story about a girl who can't remember something. Or a girl with secrets. Jennifer Shaw Wolf's debut is full of complex characters - from Allie to her brother Andrew, her childhood friend Blake, even some of the more minor school friends/foes - who have their own complicated pasts and presents that play into their motivation. 

It's a book that doesn't take things lightly and it doesn't let readers into the story lightly. We meet Allie after she's already survived the accident and is struggling with how to remember Trip, her abusive boyfriend who's died rather tragically.

With a military father she's been the new girl all her life, but now they're in her mother's hometown, where everyone knows everyone, something Allie always thought she'd be grateful for. Except that now, with Trip's death, she's seeing the darker side of that. Allie doesn't act the way everyone wants/expects her to and things quickly get very hard for her. The way that Wolf writes this is gripping, painful, and full of tension. While you do, at times, want to tell Allie something to do, there's never a surefire fix.

Her only ray of possible hope is her old friend, Blake. She'd left him behind recently but he seems to still be willing to be there for her. And he was, maybe, the only person in town who didn't love Trip.

Breaking Beautiful's plot packed so much more of a punch (literally and figuratively, I suppose) than I anticipated - I loved it.

A mystery, a romance, as well as a great look at friendship, family relationships and personal struggles, Breaking Beautiful is full of twists and turns right up until the end. You'll feel for the characters - even those you aren't sure have the best intentions - and hope everything turns out okay for all of them.

Rating: 10/10

Other books you might like: Shine by Lauren Myracle and Stay by Deb Caletti 


  1. I loved this book so much! I agree with you - it hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. I didn't want to let go of the characters, and I keep hoping that they really are healed.

  2. I kept hoping, hoping, hoping as it got closer and closer to the end that nothing bad was going to happen to any of them. And I'm also hoping they really are healed and that the future holds great things for them :)


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