Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BEAUTIFUL by Amy Reed

BEAUTIFUL

By Amy Reed

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-7830-5
Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Thirteen-year-old Cassie makes a snap decision to reinvent her nerdy, unpopular self when she moves to a new school district in Seattle. When green-haired Alex invites—actually drags—her over to the table where the “dangerous” ninth-grade boys sit, she goes along. And from there she goes along, unresisting, with everything else: heavy drinking, constant use of myriad drugs, sexual encounters that she dislikes and theft. Her dysfunctional, self-absorbed parents are numb to her growing despair, which results from her out-of-control behavior. Cassie shows remarkable insight in her first-person narration, even through her drug-induced fog. When another teen, sexually abused by her father, falls under Alex’s thrall and reaches out to Cassie for help, the seventh grader hits rock bottom. Rather than acting as a cautionary tale, this novel often seems to function more as a roadmap to a dark but realistic underworld of young unsupervised teens drifting from one unsavory experience to another. A conclusion that seems implausibly optimistic, considering the life Cassie’s recently led, slaps a bandage on an oozing sore. (Fiction. 14 & up)