Sunday, April 15, 2012

Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful 
by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Published: April 24, 2012
Publisher: Walker Children's
Available: Amazon


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.


I absolutely loved Breaking Beautiful! Not the easiest thing to say when it's about an abusive relationship, especially one that is told looking back. For me what made the story so interesting were the characters and the mystery of what really happened.

Allie seemed so realistic to me. With every glimpse into her relationship with Trip I wanted to scream at her for not leaving him and for not telling anyone, but Shaw Wolf counters that with the lack of control Allie felt not just with her relationship with Trip but also with her parents. Her reasoning may not have been logical, but it was real. Her friend Blake was one of those characters that seemed to border on too perfect, but as the story progresses he shows his flaws and it gives him a more human side. He is a nice foil to Trip. While Trip is perceived as the local good boy by just about everyone other than Allie, Blake is seen as the bad boy. Pretty much the opposite of who they really were.

Despite Trip not being in the alive during the story, he was a pivotal character and his rapid and frequent mood swings that Allie lets the reader experience are scary and sad. He is like many abusers, capable of being two completely different people. The mystery of his death was actually one I was hoping would not be solved, because it would cause someone else to be hurt. Shaw Wolfe does an excellent job of making the reader question, through Allie's own conflicting emotions, whether they believe Trip's death was deserved, or if, no matter what kind of a person he was, he didn't deserve to die.

Breaking Beautiful was an amazing debut novel and Jennifer Shaw Wolf is definitely an author I look forward to reading again.

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