This week on the BookSparks 2015 Summer Reading Challenge, I’m hitting the mountains of Montana with Beautiful Girl by Fleur Philips.
Seventeen-year-old Melanie Kennicut is beautiful. Her entire life revolves around this beauty because her overly controlling mother has been dragging her to casting calls and auditions since she was four years old. According to Joanne Kennicut, Melanie was born to follow in her footsteps. But Melanie never wanted this life.
My Book Review
Captivating first chapter of a tragic car accident that alters the main character’s life. But don’t worry. I’m not giving anything away. The car accident is mentioned in the book’s jacket copy:
“. . . so when a freak car accident leaves her with facial lacerations that require plastic surgery, she can’t help but wonder if this is the answer to her prayers . . .”
This is a touching story about a seventeen-year-old’s desire to be normal and the need to escape the clutches of an oppressive mother. A tale of first love, and through it, the discovery of a deeper sense of self and self-love.
I thought it was insightful when Melanie tried to wake her mother on the airplane to look at the beauty of Glacier National Park.
“. . . Her voice gurgles, as though the gin and tonic is pooled in her throat. She closes her eyes and drops her head back against her seat. I don’t care if she misses the mountains. She wouldn’t appreciate them anyway. If they can’t tell her how great she is, she won’t want to have anything to do with them. I’d rather keep them to myself.”
And I was incredibly moved by the events that followed a scene with Kurt in which Melanie sees the naked truth about her mother. I won’t reveal what happened because I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll give you a fragment of a powerful paragraph (parts of it omitted to avoid spoilers) that I think reveals a turning point in how Melanie sees her mother.
“. . . I place my arm over her shoulder, and I pull her to me. She doesn’t resist. Her head then falls into my lap, and like a mother to a frightened child, I brush the hair away from her cheek.”
There’s A LOT going on in the chapters that surround this passage and while the passage might seem subtle in the context of this book review, trust me, it’s pivotal in this book about our notions of beauty and the dangers of oppressive love.
A gripping end to a story about discovery, truth, redemption, love and the gripping hold that demands of beauty have over us.
Read Beautiful Girl by Fleur Philips
Fleur Philips is an award-winning author who holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Montana. Her first novel, I Am Lucky Bird, was selected as a General Fiction Finalist for the 2011 Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews. Her novel, Crumble, was named Young Adult Winner from the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival and was selected as a Young Adult Fiction Finalist by the 2013 International Book Awards. She lives in Whitefish, Montana, and when she’s not writing, she’s cheering for her son in his athletic endeavors.
Find out how it all began: READ 5th Annual BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge and My Travels Have Begun!
1. The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen
2. The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek
3. Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff
4. The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall
5 . Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
6. Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
7. Pieces by Maria Kostaki
8. Summer Secrets by Jane Green
9. It’s You by Jane Porter
10. Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
11. Beautiful Girl by Fleur Philips
12. The Road Home by Kathleen Shoop
13. The Witch of Bourbon Street by Suzanne Palmieri
14. Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
15. Anchored by Brigitte Quinn
16. Satisfaction by Andee Reilly
17. A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
18. Star Craving Mad by Elise Miller
Thank you, BookSparks!