Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Hardcover, 354 pages
Publication: April 24th 2012 by Walker Childrens
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.
My thoughts: The plot was unique, in that we didn’t learn about the abusive relationship between Allie and Trip until after he died. We didn’t get to see their relationship as it was progressing, to truly understand what happened. We learn about it slowly, as Allie recalls memories throughout the book. The night of the accident comes back to Allie in bits and pieces and we must figure out what happened, just as she does.
Allie was more of a shadow of a person than an actual complete person. Trip had so worn her down, convinced her so completely that she was useless, that she couldn’t see herself any other way. Before Trip, she had friends and interests. After he got hold of her, Trip became her whole life. Her twin brother was a nice guy, aware of what Allie was going through (though not aware of the level of her abuse) but unable to help. Here parents were oblivious, which aggravated me. I just don’t understand how a parent can be so unaware of what their daughter is going through. But Allie did her best to hide what was going on from everyone, so I’m sure that’s a big part of it. Trip was your average abusive boyfriend – beat up Allie, apologize, repeat. He was a sweet guy in the beginning, so it was easy to see how Allie was swept up. Blake was a sweetheart and I loved the way he tried to look out for Allie. I wish she’d been dating him instead of Trip!
I thought some of the decisions the characters made were unbelievable, including a truly stupid one by Allie. I never understood why the cop who came to investigate seemed so hateful to Allie, or why Trip’s friends allowed him to abuse Allie. There were several lingering questions that if answered, could have made the book seem more complete.
Nothing overtly sexual, though there were a few sweet moments. Nothing I would call swoon-worthy.
This was an intense book that didn’t pull any punches when it came to emotions or actions. Jennifer Shaw Wolf weaved an element of mystery and suspense throughout, but it sort of felt like something tacked on to me. Like maybe someone told her there should be a mystery and she had to figure out how to add it on after the fact. Though it glossed over most of the actual abuse, it focused mainly on Allie recovering after the accident and healing from her relationship with Trip.
I like the cover, it’s simple and hints at the story. The colors are vivid and the whole thing has a look of grittiness. The smashed glass font and the rocky pavement all add to the feel.
The sum up: Intense and heart-wrenching, this is a fine example of how things are not what they seem and looks mean nothing.