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Lauded by critics and authors for her heartbreakingly real heroines, Laura Wiess brings readers another devastating tale of betrayal and redemption rich with the raw emotion that made Such a Pretty Girl a classic.
How can you make someone love you when they won’t?
And what if that person happens to be your mother?
Sayre Bellavia grew up knowing she was a mistake: unplanned and unwanted. At five months shy of eighteen, she’s become an expert in loneliness, heartache, and neglect. Her whole life she’s been cursed, used, and left behind. Swallowed a thousand tears and ignored a thousand deliberate cruelties. Sayre’s stuck by her mother through hell, tried to help her, be near her, be important to her even as her mother slipped away into a violent haze of addiction, destroying the only chance Sayre ever had for a real family.
Now her mother is lying in a hospital bed, near death, ravaged by her own destructive behavior. And as Sayre fights her way to her mother’s bedside, she is terrified but determined to get the answer to a question no one should ever have to ask: Did my mother ever really love me? And what will Sayre do if the answer is yes?
|Average Customer Rating:|| based on 21 reviews|
|Average Customer Review: ( 21 customer reviews )
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2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
The book left me a wreck and I'm STILL thinking about it Sep 17, 2011
Ordinary Beauty has left me a wreck. Never have I been left so emotionally drained from reading a book. While this may sound negative to some, it is one of the best feelings I can great from reading. I know this book and Sayre's story will be with me for a long time.
Laura Wiess has written a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story of a young girl who has lived a life of abuse, abandonment and neglect with very few moments of hope. The novel begins just as Sayre learns that her mother has been admitted to the hospital once again and is forced out of the house to walk miles in the ice and snow to visit her. In an attempt to avoid being hit on the snow-covered road, she actually causes an accident and must try to save the severely injured driver. It is during the hours of waiting for help to arrive that Sayre begins to lend her voice, bit by bit, to all of the horrors she has endured growing up with an addict for a mother and break away from a past that has had a stranglehold on her for her entire life.
This was a tough story to read but I was pulled in immediately and couldn't stop until I knew that Sayre was going to be okay. The emotional struggles that she went through while retelling her memories to her mother on her death-bed had me in knots time after time. Just when I thought I knew the worst of it, there was always something else even more devastating. And I think what got me the most was seeing, very vividly, this young child experience all of this pain. This is a testament to Wiess's no holds barred writing to reveal a truth that many people willingly ignore.
Even though I am now a mess from reading this book, I recommend it to anyone who doesn't shy away from the harsh truths of the world of addiction and wants to read a story so real that it haunts you to your core.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Pulls at every heartstring you have Jul 25, 2011
By Amanda Welling
First Impressions: I have read loads of books dealing with addictions before and have always enjoyed them. But, I never had read an addiction themed book from the view point of an addict's daughter, so that is what initially attracted me to Ordinary Beauty.
First 50 Pages: I didn't make it through the first part of this book without crying. I'm not talking about a few tears, I mean literally bawling my eyes out. I quickly learned that Ordinary Beauty was going to be a difficult, emotional read. Not because it is awful, because the writing is so REAL. It pulls at every single, even the smallest of heartstrings.
Style of Writing: Laura Wiess is an incredibly talented writer, one of the best I have come across in a long time. Her books throw you right into her stories and demand your attention. She has the gift of presenting every small detail in a very human-like way. Nothing in Ordinary Beauty felt farfetched, almost sad to say, but true. Her writing style is never sugar-coating, and is very blunt and simple. She goes where other authors fear to go with her writing, and that is blatantly obvious in Ordinary Beauty.
Plot & Characters: This is a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story of a young girl who has lived a life of abuse, abandonment and neglect with very few moments of hope. The things Sayre experiences, I would never wish for anyone. To say that this was a difficult, tough story to read is an understatement. The emotional struggles Sayre tells the reader throughout Ordinary Beauty left my stomach in knots. You witness every painful experience vividly as if it is happening to you. I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I will say this: If you looked up the word "fighter" in the dictionary, you should find a picture of Sayre, who is determined to not only survive, but succeed despite what her mother puts her through. She is in incredible, one-of-a-kind role model anybody, no matter their age, can look up to. Sayre breaks all of her boundaries and proofs to the world that no matter what you have been through, no matter how dark that tunnel is, there is always light to be found at the end.
Final Thoughts: What an outstanding, haunting story! It left me thinking for hours. It made me want to call my mother and tell her how much I love her and how wonderful she is towards me. I can't say enough great things about this book. You need to read it to understand. This will be a book that will stay with me for a long time.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Gritty Real-Life Brilliance Jul 02, 2011
By J. Elliott
I'm starting to get more into contemporary fiction more lately, and amazing books like Ordinary Beauty are the reason why. I know that sounds weird, but when I make an investment in reading a book that's not magical or paranormal, I want to see stories being told that need to be told, grit and all even if it deals with the unpleasant aspects of our society. Ordinary Beauty is emotionally intense, at times raw, at times extraordinarily bittersweet.
Sayre's life in this book is not pretty, and it is a perfect depiction of the tough lives some kids are forced to live due to parents' bad choices and selfishness. The story takes the form of Sayre trying to reach her dying mother in the hospital on a wintry night, forced into reflection about the past and her own deepest need to feel love or to receive closure from her mother. Witness to a horrible car wreck, on the way to the hospital she is ultimately forced to open up to two complete strangers (and, thus, herself) about the hideousness of what has taken place in her life.
In the past, her mother's relationships and drug addictions and completely self- and others-destructive behavior left Sayre hurting and broken yet, due to some good influences in her life, determined to be more than her mother has been. This is a story of all the hurt and yet of hope because, even in the midst of such chaos, seeds are planted that lead to Sayre's successful attempts at breaking the cycle of her mother's destruction. I love the fact that this book doesn't moralize, despite the many opportunities to do so. Things are what they are, and we never do come to a complete sense of closure or retribution along with Sayre. Life is life, and life contains both pain and happiness, sometimes intermingled with each other.
As a teacher, this reaffirms the fact that sometimes the students I might have in my classroom are equally as broken and neglected as Sayre and reminds me that I need to at least attempt to be a force that might set them on the right path.
Young Adult Notes:
This book contains a little bit of strong language and deals with (or mentions) all the ugly stuff we don't want to think about in society - drug abuse and addiction, promiscuous sex, gruesome deaths, cheating, child abuse, and animal violence. I would say 14 and up would be an appropriate age, though many mature middle schoolers younger than that could handle it and would love it because it is so edgy and heartfelt.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Intense inspirational protrayal of young female resilience Jun 09, 2011
By Elizabeth Mcgill
Had the opportunity to read a galley of Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess this weekend. This is a very intense, vivid and compelling portrayal of a young woman struggling against all odds to transcend the realities of an ever accelerating downward spiral while somehow maintaining a belief in herself that makes even a cynical reader hopeful for the resilience of young women.
I will miss Sayre. I felt her every emotion, every sensation as if it were my own on her journey through a world no child should ever know.
3 of 4 found the following review helpful:
An Emotional Roller-Coaster You Can't Get Off Until The Last Page! Jul 28, 2011
By John Verrico
"ink & paper"
I warn you not to read this book before going to bed unless you are prepared to have a sleepless night!
Laura Wiess knows how to take you for an emotional journey to find hope amidst a landscape of horror. The world that young Sayre Bellavia lives in -- full of hatred, poverty, addiction, neglect, and the cruelest emotional abuse -- makes Hell look like the Garden of Eden. The more you read of Sayre's life, the more you'll rage at the way she was forced to live. Even the most mild-mannered pacifist will want to kill just about every adult in this book! And want it to be painful! But through the anger, the shock and the horror, you won't be able to pity the young heroine. Somewhere inside her is a spark of life, an aura of hope, and a vibrant determination to rise above her dark, bleak world surrounded by drugs, alcohol, debauchery, and just plain ignorance. You just want to reach out to Sayre, protect her, get her out of there and give her all the love she deserves.
I absolutely loved this book, although I hated many of the characters in it -- and that's the sign of one of the world's best authors. I'm normally pretty easy going, but I felt real hate for Sayre's mother and her friend Candy. I actually growled out loud at one point while reading Ordinary Beauty! I haven't hated a character in a book this much since, well, since Meredith's mother in Wiess's Such a Pretty Girl.
Perhaps it is the graphic realism Wiess paints into her stories or the depressing realization that there are people out there in the real world who could be just as selfish and just as cruel. And yet, Sayre's story is one of inspiration. Of finding a single blade of fresh-cut hay in a stack of needles. All I can say is, "Wow!"
See all 21 customer reviews on Amazon.com
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