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Justina Chen Headley

Författare till North Of Beautiful

10 verk 1,925 medlemmar 148 recensioner

Om författaren

Foto taget av: via Charlesbridge

Verk av Justina Chen Headley

North Of Beautiful (2009) 1,072 exemplar
Girl Overboard (2008) 246 exemplar
Lovely, Dark, and Deep (2018) 112 exemplar
Return to Me (2013) 95 exemplar
The Patch (2006) 87 exemplar
A Blind Spot for Boys (2014) 52 exemplar


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it was hard to start; i almost put it down. the writing was really annoying me. there was no flow. verbs were drowning in excess adjectives everywhere. but then, either the author smoothed out or i got engrossed in the story and i finished. a couple of the characters were believable (gratefully, this includes the protagonist), but most were not. the plot itself was a good story about overcoming the obstacles in the route of life, and an encouragement to teens. given the technical difficulties, however, i just don’t see how it will reach to them.… (mer)
mimo | 12 andra recensioner | Dec 18, 2023 |
What a frustrating book. It seems like all I can do is close my eyes and shake my head. Half an hour ago, I was shouting, hissing, and growling at the book. One of the first things to initially upset me was that Rosalind, with the nickname of Roz, has been one of my favorite traditionally-female names for awhile, and this book ruined that mostly. This book's Roz is a jaw-dropping, simply astonishingly rude, pampered, entitled, rotten, blustery princess who is a louder, less-screechy version of Bella Swan. Roz is a petulant two-year-old who is waited on hand and foot and coddled like a five-year-old. Her parents would probably let her get away with murder. From the way the book is written, her older sister, the protagonist, was apparently only allowed to get her driver's license so she could be Roz's personal driver for free. No one suggests until the book is seventy-five percent done that Roz take the bus, -and this book takes place in Seattle-. I have lived here all my life and use mass transit. Roz goes to a fancy public school (they exist; I went to an increasingly fancy one too), which is a major indicator that mass transit within ten miles of the school sucks Because Can't You Just Drive A Fancy Car Like Everyone Else. Uh, sidetracked a moment. So, I should have sympathized with her, especially since she has to get up at five thirty am. I did not. She earned my increasing wrath as the book progressed. GROW UP, YOU WHINY CHILD. She hates her parents and her sister, and is given no characterization aside from being a tall, muscular girl who lives for ice cream, rowing, and pushing people around. The only way she knows how to operate outside of that is to start pouting, whining, and slamming doors when she doesn't get her way. The book tries and fails miserably to soften her up as the book progresses, instead finding new ways for her to be borderline cruel. In one instance, she offers her sister ice cream, and it turns out there are three spoonfuls left in a large container. What a horrid person.

Her parents encourage this and shelter her from the outside world. Why? It is never explained. They remind me a lot of Charlie from "Twilight"--their kids hate them and infantilize them, they're supposed badassses, and really just mistreated by the author in so many ways. They're married to their jobs and trample effortlessly over so many boundaries, unlike Charlie who is an accomplished police chief and an involved parent who has strong ties to friends and community. I adored Charlie and was so sad at Meyer's portrayal. Here? I couldn't stand the parents. It's no wonder they don't teach their kids boundaries--they have none. They are both intelligent, but increasingly controlling of the protagonist as the story goes on, right up to bullying information out of a career counselor. This is supposed to somehow be cute or caring. These parents are just flat-out creepy, large children and it was either annoying or made my skin crawl. Sometimes both at once.

Viola is the narrator-protagonist, and an ugly combination of AnaBella SteeleSwan and Hazel Grace Lancaster. She is smarter than all of them, however. I will give her that. And she cares about causes, whereas the other three characters only cared about themselves and sex. She is a talented, creative cook and gets emotional fulfillment from it, whereas the other three characters could arguably be approaching sociopathy (Bella) or clinical narcissism (the other two). However, she still is highly self-centered, and cares deeply about sex in such a way to be destructive to herself. Ahem, kissing. Okay. She honestly believes her pain over a breakup of a three-week relationship is more tragic than her aunt's pain over her uncle's untimely death. They were happily married for five years. It took my breath away for a moment, this teenager's horrid viewpoint. Viola berates and teenager-izes her aunt for being single for five years. It's called grief, you fucking jackass. Viola's mother tramples boundaries with the aunt, her SIL, as well, trying desperately to hook her up with any single guy within a twenty-mile radius because being single is soooo bad. Leave her alone! However, something interesting does emerge, that was never explored except for five sentences (I counted): Viola's father's parents were alcoholics, and Viola's aunt--may not have had AlaTeen as a resource. Or maybe she went and it didn't work. This is -never explored-, she just has Abandonment Issues and Is A Badass Woman Who's Uninterested In Men. Look At How Tough She Is, Hiding Her Pain Behind Her Successful Auto Repair Shop. What a waste of something interesting.

I compare Viola to Hazel Grace Lancaster because this book does discuss chronic illness, and especially -rare- chronic illness. For one glowing moment, it -was- about that, and my heart warmed, and then the book went back to being its usual self. Gross. And like Hazel Grace Lancaster, she does judge other people with her condition, disregard their advice, and is snide, but less so. Whereas Hazel Grace Lancaster has an oxygen tank, which I feel quite positively about, Viola is apparently some hellish, nightmare fuel version of Goth Mary Poppins. Seriously, what the fuck was she wearing and -what- did she look like? It is incredibly popular for YA teens to describe themselves in the ugliest terms--my favorite book has the characters unsatisfied with their appearances, and oh, is about sick kids and is much better than this. So, all YA teens think they're hideous, but this one--the writing was so skilled that I was imagining something close to an alien, a shapeless gray force field in a giant Mary Poppins hat that spread eerie, cold, far-reaching shadows wherever she landed. I have a feeling if I manage to figure out what Viola was -supposed- to look like, I will be shocked.

As in many YA novels written in first person, the prose was purple, the melodrama high and whiny, the adults morons, the siblings leaders of the Mean Girls (not addressed in the book, but I would -not- be surprised), the friendships dropped once a boy shows up, the story buried underneath an eye roll-inducing romance, and several moments of the romance quite charming. I wanted to write about cute and funny moments, but there were two. Blink and you missed them. And the romantic interest in this book had a genuinely tragic backstory of his own. I wish the book had been written from his perspective. Sadly, it is a Magical Healing Kiss issued by the protagonist that magically heals this teenager. I was unhappy. I dislike Hurt-Comfort. Now that I think about it--this book had a LOT of fanfiction tropes. It even had Novel Within A Novel, although done so subtly that I actually enjoyed reading about it. Having fanfiction tropes is not bad. I wrote fanfic for the better part of a decade. I just--wish this story hadn't had so many choices a fanfiction writer might make, in it.
… (mer)
iszevthere | 7 andra recensioner | Jun 23, 2022 |
"Viola Li has her future as a globe-trotting journalist all planned out, but everything comes into question when her body suddenly betrays her.

Passionate and ambitious, Viola, a biracial (Chinese/white) 18-year-old, is unmoored when her skin begins to react terribly in the sun and she must curtail her exposure to all light, including computer and phone screens. As Viola’s photosensitivity worsens and her world becomes more restricted (the first page of each chapter gets progressively darker throughout the book), her only ray of metaphorical light is her burgeoning relationship with white Thor look-alike Josh Taylor, whom her parents disapprove of. When a romantic outing becomes life-threatening, its aftermath includes Viola’s move into the basement and challenges with Josh (who has his own issues). It is then that she finally finds the strength to make a new life plan. Much of the book revolves around the conflict between what Viola’s overprotective, crisis-manager parents want for her and her own acceptance of her condition, and Chen (A Blind Spot for Boys, 2014, etc.) gives readers a sensitive glimpse into what living with a chronic illness might be like. Snarky humor and nontraditional narrative structures (lists, texts, cinematic scenes, etc.) offset an otherwise somber situation but may also prevent readers from fully connecting emotionally. Nevertheless, readers will root for Viola as she searches for new purpose.

A strong exploration of resilience in the face of life unpredictable. (Fiction. 13-18)"
… (mer)
CDJLibrary | 7 andra recensioner | Apr 30, 2022 |
diverse teen fiction (half Asian/half white girl deals with sudden and severe sun allergy, overprotective parents, romance)
The cover's not very intriguing, but yay for featuring a POC on it!
The story is OK--kind of hit or miss on the light sensitivity details. From my personal experience, some of it was accurate, but a lot of it was off/not making logical sense; on the other hand, I guess it's a rare enough thing that someone else could possibly have an inexplicably different situation happening and who am I to say boo? If you have an autoimmune condition, however, and are hoping to see yourself reflected in these pages, you will most likely be disappointed.
The characters were OK, but sort of one-dimensional. Three of them sort of dealt with mental health issues (guilt/loss, depression, abandonment issues) but those emotions didn't really get flushed out that well.
The gradual darkening of the pages was a nice idea, but I felt bad for low-vision and dyslexic people (switching to white text on dark gray paper would've been better than sticking with black text on dark gray paper, though I understood that we were meant to empathize with Viola's darkening world).
I would recommend instead: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, which has a very similar premise, but which was publised 3 years prior (and was handled much better).
… (mer)
reader1009 | 7 andra recensioner | Jul 3, 2021 |


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