ARC Review: Beautiful Girl by Lida James

Title: Beautiful Girl
Author: Lida James
Genre: NA Contemporary
Publisher: The Studio, a Paper Lantern Lit imprint
Published: October 28th, 2014
Page count: 224 pages
Format: eARC
Source: From publisher via Netgalley

 Goodreads | Amazon | Kobo 
Book Summary:
Darkness has a way of catching up...

Sophomore year at Dutchess College has just begun, and Nicole is still haunted by memories of her first love, Zach. As the changing leaves fall on the stately Hudson Valley campus, she takes solace in running—pushing herself to go harder, faster, to be the best. With the wind blowing through her hair, she can almost convince herself that she is beautiful, that she will find love again.

So when Nico runs, quite literally, into the maddeningly elusive Justin, she’s convinced she’s found the guy to make her forget her ex—despite the warnings of her friends and her straight-edged running partner, Luke.
But when Nico is attacked in the woods after a wild night of partying, everything changes. Suddenly, Nico begins receiving anonymous threats, and she no longer knows where to turn for help—or whether even her close friends can be trusted.

All she wants is to be one of the beautiful girls—the ones who never have to chase perfection. But in order to uncover the truth, she’ll have to face a past she had hoped to leave behind forever. She thought she could outrun the darkness, but darkness has a way of catching up…and only one boy can save her. 

     *The Reader's Review*

     My rating: 4/5 stars
It's been quite a while since I've read a good NA Contemporary like Beautiful Girl that hasn't felt as repetitive like many others out there. Beautiful Girl is intriguing, dark, messed up, at times spooky, and other times oddly motivating. I had really high hopes for this book and I'm so glad it didn't disappoint!

Bullimia, drugs, and relationship issues are only a few of the serious problems the main character, Nicole, has to face. After practicing ballet for most of her life, Nicole couldn't deal with the pressure of perfection any longer, and thus falls into a state of bulimia and dropps out of ballet. Now fast forward to her sophomore year of college, Nicole hasn't thrown up for four months now, but she's on the brink of falling back again to her old habits what with the break-up with her boyfriend, social pressures, and not to mention the paranoia that sets in after being attacked in the woods one night. Nicole just wants to be a Beautiful Girl, but apparently, it's too much to ask.

I liked Nicole and I definitely felt bad about her, but I won't lie by saying that it wasn't tough trying to connect with her. Maybe because she exposed herself most of the time to several dire situations knowing full well they were not good for her. She endlessly partied, she drank, she went for the boys that were a definite bad influence, and always ignored the alarm bells going on and off. At times I wanted to shake some sense into her, but I learned that she didn't do anything on purpose, there's really nothing wrong about liking to party or to drink among friends, it's just the bad crowd and bad timing that sucked.

However, I did like her dedication towards running (except her obsession) and, despite how crappy her life was, she was actually a nice, smart person that cared for her friends and didn't carry along any shallow thoughts about them even when they didn't deserve her niceness. Also, if she crossed paths with people who were the complete opposite of her, she would admire them and wish them well. She could see the good and bad of people, but unfortunately wouldn't see that in herself.

I'm not going to speak about Justin OR Zack because I never liked them, but I will speak about the lovely Henry (my favorite character). That guy stole my heart from the first time Nicole mentioned him. He's the kind of person Nicole thinks she would never work with, that he would never see anything worth fighting for. He's not her kind of crowd, he doesn't party hard or drink, but instead opts to run and work in a team, and at the end of the day, stare up at the stars. I don't consider Henry to be her salvation, but he certainly helped her a bit to find the right direction, and I loved him for it.

Beautiful Girl gave me the chills and made me slip into the emotional ride that was Nicole's life as she struggles to become a beautiful girl. This book made me doubt about my own feelings towards many of the characters and question their true intentions. It made  me realize once again that there's always more to a person than meets the eye and I loved how Beautiful Girl truly shows how darkness has a way of catching up ... but also a way of fighting back. 

1 comment: