Searching For Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn
Before it happened…
Brynn had a group of best friends, a boyfriend who loved her, a growing talent for pottery. She had a life. And then…she had none.
After it happened…
Everything was lost. The boy she now knew never loved her. The friends who felt she betrayed their trust. The new life just beginning to grow inside her.
Brynn believes her future is as empty as her body until Christian, the boy next door, starts coming around. Playing his guitar and pushing her to create art once more. She meets some new friends at the local community center, plus even gets her dad to look her in the eye again…sort of. But letting someone in isn't as easy as it seems.
Can Brynn open up her heart to truly find her life's own beauty, when living for the after means letting go of the before?
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Searching for Beautiful
By Nyrae Dawn, Stacy Abrams
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2014 Nyrae Dawn
All rights reserved.
One, two, three, four. I focus to slow my breathing. In, out, in, out, trying to make the breaths stretch slowly, closer to tortoise rather than hare, like they're rushing right now. My palms sweat, making my hands stick to the steering wheel, almost like they're in clay on my pottery wheel.
Why am I so nervous? I shouldn't be. This is Jason and he loves me. How many times has he assured me I can tell him anything? That we're connected ... soul mates, who were lucky enough to find each other in this crazy, screwed-up world we live in.
More than that, he likes it when I talk to him, when I tell him what's inside me. Because at home, all he has is ugliness. Fighting parents, a dad who is always putting him down and calling him names.
I'm his haven. His beautiful.
Funny how out of all the billions of people in the whole wide world, I found him. That he calls me his beautiful when that's what Dad always called Mom. Not in the same words — la mia bella signora is what Dad used to call her. My beautiful lady. That's how I knew Jason and I were meant to be. It was a sign that I'm destined for a love just as true as my parents had. Just like I always felt it was destiny for them to adopt me. She was meant to be my mom.
My heart starts to calm at the memory of Jason whispering those words to me. Of his breath against my ear. His body wrapped around mine. We love each other, I remind myself, so I shouldn't be scared to tell Jason. Now the rest of it? That makes my stomach turn and my head pound. Dad is going to freak.
After pulling the keys from the ignition, I get out of my car, running my hands down my red dress. It's the one I wore the night we met.
If red wasn't my favorite color before, it definitely is now. He'd touched my hair, the red that surprises everyone, since Dad is Italian. But then, it's not as though I would look like him.
That quickly, it had been like Jason and I knew each other forever. Did he know then? Feel the draw he told me about later? Feel the same spark with me that Mom always talked about with Dad? I hadn't at first. I didn't want to feel anything when I met Jason. Caring hurt, and I had enough hurt to last a lifetime.
I love him now, though. That's what matters.
Red hair ... red dress, and now red cheeks. I never knew blushing could be so damn sexy ...
Half of me wanted to laugh at him. I mean, really? How dumb did he think I was? At the time, it was obvious his words were lines, but instead of laughing, I talked to him. He talked back, and nothing's been the same ever since.
Smiling, I start to walk toward his brother Sam's house. Luckily, he's always out of town, so we never have to worry about seeing him. It's the perfect place for Jason and me to meet.
The front door swings open before I get a chance to knock. Jason's there, his blond hair messy like always. He's wearing a pair of shorts, no shirt. Even after the past three months, I still shiver seeing his toned body. The ripples of his abs and firm arms. He works out like crazy.
"Hey, babe. About time you got here. Sam will be home soon, so we don't have much time to hang out."
As soon as he pulls me inside, his mouth is on mine. So recognizable, that mint tinged with smoke. I've always hated smoking, which is why he sucks on the mints. But still, the mixture is him. I would know it anywhere. It's not that I necessarily like it, but it's familiar. And familiarity is important.
Tell him, tell him, tell him. The words creep into my head. I try to slam the door on them, but they're like his smoke, floating under the door and filling the room until I'm almost suffocating on them. "Jason ..." I pull back a little bit. "I want to talk to you, remember? I have ... I have something to tell you."
He smiles, threading his fingers through mine before pulling me farther into the house. Into the living room. "Sorry, I just missed you. You know how irresistible you are to me."
I feel the heat burning my cheeks.
"Ah, there is it. Love that blush."
Somehow, it's those words that give me the courage I need. He loves my blush, my laugh. How many times has he told me he loves everything about me?
Love will make it okay.
"I ..." I grab his other hand, too, needing to touch him as much as I can, wanting to look him in the eyes when I speak to him. "I need to tell you something important."
He cocks his head a little, his hands tightening. "What is it?"
"I'm ..." Push the words out, Brynn. They've been eating me alive for weeks and now I just need to say them. My hands start shaking and briefly I wonder if he can feel it. My throat feels clogged, like words or breath can't get through. They're trapped behind a barrier of fear. Do it! "I'm pregnant."
The sentence somehow sucks all the air out of the room. It's suddenly hard to breathe again. Jason's hands grip mine tighter and tighter. I steady myself, proud of how I'm handling this. I spent two days crying before today, freaking out. I promised myself I wouldn't freak when I told Jason.
"I'm pregnant ... with a baby. Duh, of course it's a baby, but your baby ... our baby." I step closer to him, but he pulls away. His hands jerk out of my grasp.
"How the fuck are you pregnant, Brynn? It sure as hell can't be mine. I've worn a condom every time we've been together. Every. Single. Time." His words make me flinch. They're like a whip biting into my skin.
Tears blur my vision; anger tries to block them. I'm shocked that Jason could accuse me of something like this. Then I remember the stories he's told me, the anger he lives with every day. I promised Jason I wouldn't be like that. We wouldn't be that way.
But he made me the same promise, too.
Locking eyes on him, I notice his face is red, see the angry set of his jaw as he crosses his arms. Who is this? Jason has never yelled at me before. "I don't know ... I don't know. But I'm pregnant. I swear. I've heard stories about girls getting pregnant even with a condom. Maybe it, like, had a hole in it. This isn't something I would lie about, Jason. I've never been with anyone but you. Only you. You know that."
My hands shake. My heart, too. I love him. But he thinks I would cheat on him. The anger tries to push its way in again, but I swallow it down until it creates this sort of vacuum inside me instead. Blood rushes through my ears, making it difficult to focus on anything else.
"Hate to break it to you, Brynn, but if you haven't been with anyone but me, you wouldn't be knocked up right now."
A chill sweeps over me. The air conditioner? Whatever it is, it feels strong enough to knock me over. No, break me apart, blowing pieces of me around the house. I shake my head, trying to make sense of what he's saying. Trying to swallow down the need to vomit. "How can you say that? You know I love you. I'd never. I love you, Jason."
He laughs. I used to love the sound, and now it's beating me into the ground, sounding so different from any of his laughs before. "Didn't you tell me your little boyfriend broke up with you the day before we got together? I'm sure you loved him, too. Grow up. I swear, you're so naive."
How many times have I told him I never loved Ian? The only other time I thought I was in love, I was a dumb kid ... Kid ...
This can't be happening. Jason can't be treating me this way. Not when I'm going to have our baby. A baby. I clutch my stomach. The word suddenly starts repeating over and over in my head, blurring and mixing with Jason's angry accusations until it's all I can hear or feel.
"Jesus, I'm such a fucking idiot!" He runs a hand through his hair. "How long have you known? Who told you? Figured you'd try and trap me, did you? Hate to break it to you, but it's not going to happen."
"What?" The word manages to tumble out of my mouth.
He's pacing now, and my eyes dart around the room, following him. It's a struggle when I can't stop his voice in my head or the nausea in my stomach.
Hate to break it to you, Brynn, but if you haven't been with anyone but me, you wouldn't be knocked up right now.
"This isn't a game, Brynn. This is my life. I could go to fucking jail over this shit. You have to get rid of it. I'll give you money or whatever, but you have to get rid of it."
Dizziness twists and turns around me, pulling me in, dragging me under. Jail ... Get rid of it ...
Oh, God. I'm pregnant. I'm sixteen and pregnant. He wants me to get rid of our baby. My dad will never talk to me again.
With Jason by my side, I thought it would be okay. Thought we could make it work. I'd have someone else to love.
My eyes flutter and my legs go weak. I crumple to the floor, not sure what else to do. "Shit," Jason curses from above me. An eternity later, he joins me on the floor. "Shhh, Brynn. I'm sorry. I didn't mean ... You just freaked me out. I ... Shit, baby, you can't tell anyone. I love you so much and hate to say this to you, but you can't tell anyone. You have to get rid of the baby and no one can know it's mine."
He wraps his arms around me, pulling me to his lap. God, I want to feel safe here, the way he's always made me. This is the Jason I know. The one who's calm, sweet, and loving, not this man flip-flopping between anger and affection that I'm seeing now.
"Shh ... don't cry. I'm sorry. I love you. I just ... I wanted you so much, that I couldn't stop myself from lying. One look at you and I was a goner. When I found out how old you are ... I did it for us."
You can't tell anyone ...
"I couldn't lose you, but don't you see? This is serious shit. You don't want me to go to jail for loving you, right?" His words are a blur, a muffled echo in my head.
You have to get rid of the baby and no one can know it's mine.
My mom died, and now he wants me to kill our baby. Don't know if I can do it. Baby ... Pregnant. No one can know it's mine. " What are you talking about?"
"Oh, Brynn. You're so beautiful. Stop crying. I can't handle hearing you cry. I'm so sorry, but you can't be mad at me for loving you. That's why I did it. You love me, too, don't you? If you do, you have to get rid of the baby and not tell anyone. I'll pay for it. I don't want to lose you."
If Jason can't accept what happened, how can I expect Dad to? He'll hate me. Be disappointed. He's already broken because of Mom. "I love you, too," I whisper. "But ..." I don't think I can do it. Kill my baby? Kill our baby?
"How far are you?"
"Seven weeks ..."
"It's okay. It's not a baby yet. You can do this, Brynn. Do it for us."
My stomach cramps. I just want to go to sleep. Want this to all be some kind of dream.
"I'm not mad that you knew," he continues. "People sometimes lie when they love someone so much. That's why I did it at first. We can keep on pretending like we have been. Keep being happy. I'm only twenty-three. It's not like it's that big a deal."
Twenty-three, twenty-three, twenty-three. The urge to throw up climbs into my throat again. Dizziness sweeps through me. "Jason?"
"Red, you have to trust me. It will work out. You're my beautiful. My beautiful, Red. Don't take that away from me. We'll be okay ... It's not a baby yet, anyway."
Each and every one of his words stabs into me at once. I don't know which to focus on. Can't make myself pick any. Love mixes with lies and there's a part of us inside me and he says it's not real. He wants me to get rid of it.
My body takes over and I'm scrambling away from him.
Jason walks toward me, but I can't make myself back away any more. "Don't pretend you didn't know, Brynn. How could you not? I played your game because it made you feel better, but you know who I am. You always knew how old I was. Everyone else will know it, too. They'll know you wanted to trap me. Or they'll think you lied about your age. You wanted an older guy because you were messed up after your mom died. It happens all the time." He shrugs.
"You'd tell them I lied?" He said he loves me, but now he'd tell them I wasn't honest about my age ...
It hits me, knocking the air out of me, how much I don't know this Jason, when he says, "Get rid of it and I won't have to." He's so to-the-point. So cold that I don't know if I want to keep crying or hurt him. I can't believe I fell for him.
"I hate you!" I yell. They're the most immature words in the world, but they're all I have. "I hate you, Jason!" Stumbling, I run toward the door, but he grabs my arm. A pain shoots through my stomach. My eyes water. My ears feel full, almost echoey.
"You'll break your dad's heart. He'll know his little baby is sleeping around and got knocked up. That you lied to sleep with a local baseball player. After losing your mom, can you do that to him? Everyone else will hate you for trying to trap me, too. Do you want that? Do you want everyone to know you're a slut?"
I rip my arm away from him, covering my mouth with a shaking hand. He's right. I know he's right. Everyone will hate you. Haven't I lost enough?
It'll be my word against his.
Jason ... I love him, but he never loved me. How will I tell my dad? How will I be a mom?
"Be smart, Brynn. I swear to God, you'd better be smart and get rid of it."
Ignoring his words, I run from the house. I don't remember driving home. I don't remember starting a fire in the woodstove and throwing in that stupid red dress. All I remember are his words. He doesn't love me. Never loved me. He saw someone young and naive and he used me. He wants me to kill the baby.
I know I can't, but I never get the chance anyway. The cramps start in the middle of the night. The rush of blood quickly afterward.
Dad hears me crying.
He takes me to the hospital.
His anger came the next day. The yelling, the disappointment.
He hasn't looked at me the same ever since. No one has.
Jason was right.CHAPTER 2
"So, you and your mom were close?" Jason slips his hand into mine, interlocking our fingers. My heart's mixed up, not knowing if it wants to jump for joy at the contact or break in a million pieces because he brought up Mom. It's been two months, and it feels like two decades and two seconds at the same time. How can she have been gone this long? Time feels like it's never-ending.
So many conflicting feelings, but none that I want to focus on, so I give my attention to Jason instead.
"Yeah ... she's ..." I can't bring myself to speak the word "gone." It's wrong ... bad, the worst thing she can be. "We were very close." Ugh. How can "were" suddenly be a bad word, too? "She was my best friend. Everyone loved her." I feel myself smiling, which is a miracle. I haven't smiled when it came to Mom since it happened. Dad is in his own world and even if he wasn't, I'm not sure I could go there with him.
Ian, my ex-boyfriend, doesn't understand. He's too busy with sports and having fun to take time to care about much.
Ellie and Diana try, but they don't understand, either. When you haven't experienced it, it's easy to think you fully get it, but you don't. It's hard with them, because they knew her so well. They loved her so much. Not nearly as much as me, but as much as best friends can love another mom. She had that kind of power, though. My friends were jealous she was my mom.
Maybe that's why I can't talk to them about it — she was the one thing I had that they didn't, and in the blink of an eye, she was taken away from me.
My chest starts aching again.
"I'm sorry." Jason uses his other hand and pushes a strand of hair behind my ear. "It's so hard to lose someone close to you. I lost my grandma. When I was young, I always wanted to be at her house because it was calm there. I could be happy. She was more like a mom than mine is — I loved her more than anyone else. Nothing's been the same since she's been gone. Just another thing we have in common." He gently squeezes my hand.
"Just another thing," I repeat. Jason knows what I'm going through because he's lived through losing someone he loves. I hate feeling comfort in that, because it means he lost his grandma, but he makes it so I don't feel alone.
"We can talk about her if you want. Or we don't have to. It's up to you. I don't want to push you, but I want to be here for you, too."
That's exactly what I need. Everyone else tells me how to feel. But Jason lets me go at my pace. Feel what I feel and talk when I want to talk. It's like he's filled a void inside me I never thought would be filled again. Makes me feel when I never thought I would want to feel again.
Excerpted from Searching for Beautiful by Nyrae Dawn, Stacy Abrams. Copyright © 2014 Nyrae Dawn. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Deeply emotional and absolutely lovely, Searching for Beautiful was a wonderful YA read. I really liked this book and I really enjoyed reading it. Brynn was a lovely heroine. After her mother's death, she pulled away from her friends and closed herself off, only to get pulled into a dependent relationship with a manipulative older guy. And, to top it off, it all came crumbling down on her. She definitely didn't have an easy time. But, she grew up over the course of the book and found the strength to deal with it all and move on...eventually. There were times when she was a bit shrewish, but I understood why she was, so it didn't bother me to much. Overall, I really liked her. Christian was wonderful. He was very sweet and realistic. There are a lot of books where the heroine kind of uses the hero as a punching bag and, yet, the poor fool keeps coming back. Christian wasn't a pushover. He was loyal and willing to stand by Brynn, but he was also not going to force his presence when he kept being pushed away. I liked that about him. He was sweet and understanding, but not willing to make excuses when there weren't any. Basically, he acted like a real person. I really liked that and I definitely adored him. The romance was sweet. It progressed slowly, as Brynn found her say through all her demons. I thought it was sweet how Christian was there for her and helped her move one. They were lovely together. The plot was good. My main problem with this book was that it took a several chapters before I was fully drawn in. The transitions from past to present were a little shaky at first, before I got used to them. But, once the plot really kicked off, I was hooked. I really enjoyed the story and the ending was lovely. Searching for Beautiful was a wonderful YA read. It was sweet, emotional, and an enjoyable read. YA romance lovers, you'll want to check this book out. *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Another 5 star review for Nyrae Dawn Let me just say I am a huge fan of Dawn's writing and she has always done such a marvelous job writing broken characters. Well she does it yet again. Most of her books that I have read are in the NA genre and this one is more YA/teen so the steamy is not their but the feelings and chemistry of the characters certainly is. The story is told from Brynn's POV. She is a 16 year old girl who has had her world torn apart at home, at school, and everywhere in between. Brynn is simply a young girl who closed herself off from her friends after tragedy strikes only to let someone else in. Unfortunately, that someone else only makes matters worse for Brynn and she has to deal with even more heartache. You would think her friends would be there to help, but they are too upset with Brynn and her choices. She finds herself closing off, existing but not living. Then along comes Christian, the boy she thought she loved in seventh grade. He is back and living right next door. She develops a beautiful relationship with his mother and she even makes another new friend along the way. But it is with Christian's help that she finds her way back and despite all her reservations, she eventually opens herself up to love again. This story was wonderful. Dawn always does such a great job of immersing you in the story. Rather than just reading what is happening, you really feel as if you are experiencing the story with the characters. Initially I did have a little problem with the alternating between past and present and getting confused a little about what happened when, but then I did get used to the flow. It is a sweet story about healing and finding your way back after something which really could have been devastating. I loved this story and I think teenagers and parent's alike would benefit from reading it. Dawn as always does an amazing job!!! Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I was so lucky to be offered an ARC of this one. Searching for Beautiful is a truly heart felts story of Brynn, who overcomes traumas in her life. Brynn is giong through a lot. After the first tragedy, she has withdraws from her friends who, in my opinion were not very good to her. She ends up finding a special someone who makes her feel loved again. That the whole in her chest is a little smaller. Unfortunatly that relationship ends terriblely and only adds to the burden on Brynn's heart. Her home, heart, and relationships are broken. How will she overcome this? Can her relationships be repared? I was quite upset with Brynn's friends. After everything she had been through for them to act like the did was awful. I think Brynn described it the best. She talked about how in movies people make fun of you or call you bad names but, its far worse when they ignore you completely. Like you don't even exist. She was alone after everything. That is just terrible. I don't know how her freinds could even think about doing that. Even if Brynn shut down afterwards. Who wouldn't!? Her poor Dad didn't know how to handle the situation and it's understandable. Brynn had no support system and I felt so bad for her! Christian was her savior. They may not have realized it right away but, they saved each other. Him and his Mom. He never pushed her and called her out when she need to be. Even when Brynn was scared and didn't know if she could do it, Christian was there. There relationship progressed slowly. No instalove here. It was perfect and felt right! I really loved this book. It was a story of overcoming terrible tragedies in a young life. Brynn fought hard to overcome her challenges. This is a beautiful story and I would highly recommend it.
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Entangled Publishing, LLC and Netgalley.) 16-year-old Bryn expects her boyfriend Jason to support her when she tells him that she’s pregnant; so to be told to have an abortion, and for him to question the father of the baby really shocks her. Unfortunately Bryn then miscarries, but still has no support from her boyfriend and friends as they all seemingly turn against her. Why isn’t Jason supportive? And how long will it take Bryn to get over losing her baby? This was an okay story, but I lost interest. Bryn was an okay character. What she was going through was obviously difficult for her, and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her with regards to the way her friend and Jason treated her. I didn’t really love her though, and found it a bit hard to connect to her. The storyline was alright, even though it didn’t go quite the way I expected, but unfortunately I just lost interest. I just couldn’t connect with Bryn, and didn’t feel invested in the story. I was interested to find out what had happened to her mum and how she had died, but that was about it really. The romance didn’t really interest me either, and I just got bored. The ending was okay, and fairly happy, but I really wasn’t interested by that point. Overall; okay story about death and bullying, 6 out of 10.
A true to life story about friendship, family, and love. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the author. I've heard wonderful things about Nyrae Dawn's writing and even own a few books by her. Now, I know you think I'm going to say I was disappointed, but I was actually very pleased with this book. Despite the 2 star rating, I actually loved this book. I gave it two stars because I felt the story line was good, but the issues weren't solved until the very end, making the book feel rushed. However, the story was well written, good character development, and had good description. It could sometimes get a little to much, but I didn't mind it usually. Brynn is a strong main character but could be incredibly stubborn at times. I totally understand how she thought Jason loved her. But I also thought it was stupid when she would never tell anyone that she talked to Jason or saw him, but I still understand. I just disliked the fact that she thought her father hated her so much when it was obvious all he wanted was her to be okay and safe. Christian was my definite favourite character, but he to felt unfinished. I understand that he can bounce back and all, but then you discover he has anger management problems. I'm pretty sure that makes him contradict himself cause he can be so calm but has anger problems too. Aside from that, he was a good character and Nyrae did a great job developing him from grade 7, to grade 10. Overall, I enjoyed the story and found it very touching and sweet. It was definitely not a light fluff book, and for some people it can hit home, but that person wasn't me. I know some people that would fall in love with this book from top to bottom, but that's not me. However, I still did enjoy the book and feel that lots of people are going to love it. Rating: 6.9/10 Parental Rating: 14+
Young love is meant to be dramatic, I think, but for Bryn it is just over the top exhausting. Searching for Beautiful is an wide-open view of a 16 year old girl's heart, especially after it is broken by more than one love crisis. When my daughter is a teenager, I think I might have her read this when she thinks she's old enough for true love. Nyrae Dawn presents Bryn's situation in such a way that a young girl can really see a stereotypical way that a girl who's found herself "in trouble" might feel. The book waffles back and forth between flashbacks, which made it a bit difficult for me to stay in the moment. I also wasn't thrilled about Christian's appearance so suddenly; I felt that Bryn had some issues to work out on her own. Still, the message of emotional healing is heard loud and clear through this story. I received this book to review. The opinions shared here are 100% mine.
I love Nyrae Dawn books. They deal with emotional, real things and have characters that get to me. I just didn't feel that way this time. I had a hard time connecting to Brynn. She's 16 but her character felt more like my 13 year old students. I didn't like Jason at all. I didn't like her friends. I felt sorry for her dad. The story was hard to accept. Problems were fixed to easily. I had a hard time with the flow of befoe and after chapters that took us back and forth between "the incident". This makes me very sad but I just didn't like it.
Searching for Beautiful is an amazing story - it's a story that could come straight from real life. Brynn has found herself in a horrible spot. Lied to by a much older boy, lieing to her friends, and losing something more precious than anything she has ever known. She shuts down and pushes everyone everyone away. She begins to doubt that anyone will ever believe her again and decides to swear off boys forever. When a blast from the past shows up next door with problems of his own. Now, this may have a boy meets girl storyline, but I don't know that I would call it a romance. It's a story about Brynn finding herself and her life again - trying to remember who she was before everything happened and get it back. This book is full of very subtle life lessons and one or two not so subtle ones. Brynn is a great character - amazingly flawed and she knows it. Christian has a bit of arrogance in him, but it sort of makes him more charming (most of the time). Each character has such a unique and different personality and life that they are easy to relate to and fall in love with. The book has a mostly happy ending in a very surprising way. This is one that will stay on my mind for awhile. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
I adore reading books that made me feel. This book brought me to tears at certain parts of the story. Searching for Beautiful is a book about Brynn, what happened to her (lost her mother, betrayed by boyfriend, lost her friends etc) and how she slowly regain her life thanks to new friends and getting back old ones. However, everything wasn't easy for Brynn. I love how Dawn shows us the present and the past in the book. It mainly focuses on the present with glimpses into Brynn's past about her mother and boyfriend and how everything ate at her. The present focuses on the struggles that Brynn faced in school and at home. Like I said, this book brought me to tears, especially about Brynn's breakdown. She's a tough character, strong but innocent, brave enough to make that first step. I can totally relate to what she was feeling and Dawn's words are filled with Brynn's feelings. They made Brynn felt real to me. Her neighbour, Christine, came back after disappearing for several years. He was with his own problems as well but it was really sweet to read how he urged Brynn. I also adore Christian's mother. Gosh, she's such a unique character on her own! I enjoyed reading Searching for Beautiful and losing myself in Dawn's words. I'll definitely be reading other book by her! Highly recommended! Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Review Originally Posted At: The Y.A. Bookworm Blogger 3.5 I've read a few of Nyrae Dawn's NA novels and recall thoroughly enjoying them, so when I was approached with the opportunity to review her new YA novel, I jumped all over it! What I loved so much about Searching For Beautiful was how unexpectedly deep it was. There are some tough issues addressed in this book and as a result of that, this story really hits you on an emotional level. The biggest flaw Searching For Beautiful had in my opinion was its slow beginning. I had a real hard time getting into the story and connecting with the main character Brynn. We are introduced to Brynn during a time where she is at a very emotionally drained place. Periodic flashbacks allow us to see what has lead her to this point, but the darkness that overwhelmingly takes over her present was hard to ignore. However, that all being said, as Brynn starts facing her issues and healing, I started getting into the plot. As Brynn begins embracing life again, I began embracing her story. Searching For Beautiful really is a novel about moving forward, growing, and allowing yourself to open up to others.....but that doesn't mean there isn't a little bit of romance thrown into the mix as well. Christian is the boy Brynn first ever danced with and has now suddenly made an appearance back into her life after unexpectedly leaving years ago. What I enjoyed so much about Brynn and Christian's relationship is despite the fact there was always an underlying attraction there for one another, they started off as friends and evolved into a couple. Christian provides that sweet, supporting friendship Brynn so desperately needed and he pushes her to not let her past define her. In addition to all of that, he's able to understand what Brynn is going through because he has issues of his own. His odd love for gummy bears just makes him that much more perfect! Overall, Searching For Beautiful ain't no light and fluffy read, but its intensity and "light at the end of the tunnel" ending leaves you feeling a sort of completeness. It wasn't the easiest novel to get into but I enjoyed taking this journey with Brynn. *Copy was received in exchange for an honest review*
Sometimes I forget what its like being a teenager. Where we are so emotional with no logic. For Brynn she just lost her mom and wants no needs to feel loved and beautiful. She wants what her parents have so the minute someone calls her his beautiful she melts and falls 'in love'. This need is so strong she doesn't see how things actually are and hides this new part of her life. Then the unthinkable happens and she gets pregnant to only have the truth slap her in the face. With this truth comes the ugliness of what she thought was the love of her life as well as with her friends and dad. Brynn doesn't know how to handle all of this as most YA 's don't so she pushes people away and runs and hides until her junior high crush resurfaces back in her life as her new neighbor. Christian has dealt with his own issues and just moves forward and expects the same from everyone (typical boy). He has always liked Brynn and sees the potential in her but his approach is not what she needs. As Christian and Brynn figure out their own lives they become friends and a little more but this journey wasn't about Brynn truly finding the love of her life but finding the beauty and love in herself. You truly can't love anyone else until you can love yourself. Once Brynn is able to see her own beautiful she is able to move forward and live each day in the present and see what happens. Nyrae Dawn is truly one of my favorites and this book is different than her other books but it had a beautiful message and was well done. I think all YA should read this story for the importance of loving themselves and finding true beauty. With this everyone is more capable of living life know matter what is thrown your way.
When it comes to Nyrae’s books, I’ve come to expect certain things from them. First there is Nyrae’s brilliant writing. She has this way of telling a story in a beautiful, honest, gripping way. Next there is the characters that are realistic and flawed in the most spectacular ways. And then there is a sense of peace, hope, and happiness I get at the end of each book. She has this way of tearing your heart out throughout the course of the book but somehow manages to piece it back together by the end. Searching for Beautiful, while it may be different from any other Nyrae Dawn book I have ever read before, had all of these characteristics and so much more. Brynn’s story is one that I think everyone should read. It will likely break your heart but regardless, it is an important message, one that Nyrae portrays beautifully. Nyrae split this story up into “Before” sections an “Now” sections so we got to see the person Brynn used to be and the way Brynn is now. Hearing about how vibrant and care-free she was when her mom was around to how lost her and her dad became after her mom’s death, then how dependent she was on Jason, a boy who had bad news written all over him but she failed to see, and finally to how broken, scared, and lonely she was when she was left without her mom, without Jason, and without anyone to rely on but herself. Brynn’s problems only seemed to be doubling with every turn of the page and she was slowly unraveling, which is why I was so grateful when Christian entered in all of his advice-giving, friend-being, candy-chewing, guitar-playing glory. Christian was there for Brynn when it felt like no one else was. He was there to listen and give her advice when she needed it most. What I liked most about Christian was not these other great qualities he had but it was because he was not always likable. Now I know that sentence might come as a shock to you but allow me to explain. Christian can sometimes be judgmental and harsh, he sometimes says things to Brynn without thinking of how she will take it, and his temper gets in the way a few times. So why is it that I like this most about him? IT MAKES HIM REAL! I loved that Christian seemed so incredibly realistic. Guys, well people in general, don’t always say or do the right thing, they aren’t always overly kind and thoughtful but at the end of the day, a good friend tries their best to be there for someone else and this people is exactly what Christian is, a good friend to Brynn. I also really appreciated the characters of Brenda, Christian’s mom and Emery, a girl who Brynn meets at the community center. Brenda is such a loving, kind, supportive person. This is the first person that Brynn really talks to after her life falls apart. No one could ever take the place of her mother but I think Brynn was in desperate need of a mother figure of some sort and Brenda helped fill that void. As for Emery, she was a good friend for Brynn when Brynn’s friends weren’t there for her. Like Christian, she was a flawed character but despite these flaws, she was honest and there for Brynn when Brynn needed her. Even though Christian, Brenda, and Emery were there for Brynn, this story isn’t really about leaning on people when life gives you piles and piles of lemons. It’s more about learning to be strong, realizing you are more than your mistakes, and seeing just how amazing, beautiful, and strong you really are. This is a lesson that Brynn learns throughout the course of Searching for Beautiful with some help from these other awesome characters yes, but mostly, it is a lesson she learns on her own. This is why this book was so different from any other Nyrae book I’ve read before. Usually there is a beautiful romance involved and for this book, the romance didn’t really take the lead. It was more of a story of a girl learning to love herself, flaws, mistakes, and all. Do you see what I mean now? Searching for Beautiful is a story we should ALL read.
Well-Written and could be an inspiration for YA readers going thru a rough spell First of all, please know that this read wasn't my normal genre. I thought it would be more of a romance than it was. There was romance... but it's not primarily a romance. Unfortunately, I'm not really a fan of the subject. That said, it was a good read. It was well-written and the sentences flowed. Brynn had a wonderful family with a mother that the other kids envied. Brynn loved to spend time with her friends. She had a boyfriend and she was a talented potter. One fateful day she had an argument with her mother and walked away. When she returned and tried to open the door, she found her mother's body blocking the door. Her mother had died of a stroke. Brynn's world would never be the same. She fell out with her friends, her schoolwork suffered, she couldn't even get near her pottery equipment and fell in what-she-thought-was-love with an older man who took advantage of her. Her reputation suffered and her father no longer trusted her. I found much of the story to be sad.. but I think that's because I have a different perspective than a young adult would. Brynn didn't seem to know how to dig herself out of the hole she'd dug. I wanted to shake her. But.. never fear... there is a light at the end of the tunnel so keep reading. There are lessons to be learned here for YA. I can believe that this book could inspire YA who are going thru a rough time. It's just not the best read for a older woman like me. So... please don't hold this review against the book... it's coming from the view of an older woman. 3 1/2 stars!
3 stars. An enjoyable read. I haven’t read many books my Nyrae Dawn, but the few I have, I have simple adored. Now, I was very excited about this one. I knew it wasn’t like my usual reads (the subject something I tend to stay away from), but I just really wanted to give it a try. Now I did enjoy the story, but, sadly, I didn’t love it. Nyrae did a wonderful job with the pace and buildup of her story and plot. But I just couldn’t really connect with the characters on certain levels. And I felt she did handle the darker situations well. The building of the story was decent. And I felt like the book was told very simply, as in detail. The characters were interesting. I just couldn’t really fall for them and some kind of ticked me off. Brynn, poor girl, is just having a tough year. A lot happens to her and in turn, her whole life shifts. I really felt for her, what she had to go through, I couldn't imagine. And I felt she did handle certain aspects of it all well. Her character growth was noticeable, though a bit slow though, but there nonetheless. I was really happy when Christian entered the story. I really liked his character. Like Brynn, he has his faults. What I liked about him is that he just didn’t give a crap about certain things, especially when it came to the rumors of Brynn. I also liked that Brynn and Christian were once friends before he moved away. That, to me, brought in a nice dynamic to their growing relationship and also brought in a nice backstory with the two. I’m gonna be honest, Brynn’s friends pissed me off. That whole situation just didn’t sit right with me and I felt that they didn’t process or handle things like friends should have. This is my opinion, of course. What Brynn goes through was really heartbreaking. I also felt that she could of handle certain situations that came up better. But again, she is a young girl and she displayed a lot of naivety throughout the book. She did grow quite a bit by the end of the story, which I was happy to see. I also felt that Christian was a great balance to her. When Christian moves back and when Brynn reconnects with him and his mother that seemed to give Brynn the pieces she needed to move on with her life. Searching for Beautiful was a story about a girl learning to re-love and overcoming horrible events in her life. Though I didn’t love the story, I did enjoy it. It was nicely told and did present some nice characters. I would definitely recommend this one to readers who love heartbreaking situations where characters have to learn to overcome them.
I have previously read, and loved some of Nyrae's work, so when I saw Searching For Beautiful I added it to my goodreads to-read list. When I got offered a copy of the book to review it had to be one of the easiest and quickest 'yes' I've ever replied with. Within minutes of making a start on Searching For Beautiful I had a very strong opinion on Jason, he is an ass, and after his first few sentences to Brynn I wanted to slap him. He is a selfish, self-centred ass. Searching For Beautiful is split into Before and After. Before takes place before the incident with Jason, while After is the aftermath of the situation. Before, Brynn had friends, her Mum, and a boyfriend who loved her like her dad loves her Mum. After she has lost her Mum, her boyfriend, her friends, and her relationship with her Dad is in tatters. The protagonist in Searching For Beautiful is Brynn, who I felt so sorry for. I wanted to wrap her up in cotton wool and keep her safe from everything around her. Thanks to Jason, she is abandoned by her friends who should have stuck by her and listened to her side of the story before making judgements, her classmates and school mates are all talking about her behind her back, and she has no-one who she feels she can turn to. One person who doesn't judge Brynn is Christian, a neighbour who left and came back. I liked how he tries to help Brynn, even though they don't initially get off to a good start, and helps her find belief in herself again, and the confidence to pick herself up. Yes this friendship has it's ups and downs, but it's real in every single way, and while Christian is helping Brynn, she is also helping him. Emery is a new friend that is in a similar situation to what Brynn was, and while Brynn doesn't exactly make Emery feel welcome, she sticks with Brynn, even if it is just sitting next to each other, or letting Emery talk while Brynn listens. This is another friendship I enjoyed getting to see develop, and while there were some moments I wish Brynn had acted sooner, I did like seeing how far they have both come at the end of the book. I don't want to say too much about Searching For Beautiful as I don't want to give away details of what happens in the pages or what happens to make Brynn's life so sad, but I do know that this is possibly my favourite book so far that I have read of Nyrae's, I vaguely remember crying a little near the end of the book. Searching For Beautiful really makes you think about how judgemental people can be, how quick they are to listen to only one side of a story and take that as the final decision. Brynn had no support after suffering a huge loss, no-one to talk to that she thought had her back, a stranger had to be the person she opens up to, and while I know this situation makes Searching For Beautiful work, it also makes you think of what happens every day in the world, and I hope I come out of reading this book with that in mind, and wait before making judgements myself. *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*
Searching For Beautiful is one of those books that, while emotionally difficult to read, has such a beautiful message of hope behind it. Nyrae Dawn isn't afraid to tackle some very heavy topics, and I feel she did so very tactfully and appropriately. I really like that Dawn alternates between Brynn's life Before and Now. It is very telling of who she is now compared to the girl she used to be and I feel it was important to see the drastic difference in her personality and spirit. Everyone wants to be loved and Brynn De Luca is no exception. After a devastating loss has turned Brynn's life upside down, she seeks comfort in the arms of a guy who says he'll be there for her and that he understands what she's going through. At 16, Brynn is still so young and thinks what her and Jason have is true love. He calls her beautiful and makes her feel special- what girl doesn't long for that? She has always been a romantic at heart and I love how much she idolizes her parents' love for one another. Too often we read about teenagers who are ostracized from their parents or whose parents are not around or involved. Brynn is very fortunate to be able to bear witness to what love truly is and know what it is supposed to look like. However, because of Brynn's naivety, she doesn't see Jason for the person he truly is and when she finds out some life-altering news he shows his true colors and they are quite ugly. I hated Jason. So so much. He spins everything around on her- making her feel as she is the one to blame for what happened. He destroys her self-worth and poisons her mind with his toxic words. I seriously wanted to junk punch him. I feel like he took advantage of a grieving girl and used that grief to create a hero complex for himself. I definitely had a hard time with Brynn's best friends. They are upset that she pushed them away afterwards and now they won't even bother with her because they think she lied to them about not knowing who Jason really was. Going back to school is difficult for Brynn, as the rumors run rampant and kids stay away from her, treating her as an outcast. She is lonely and misses her friends and is struggling with who she is supposed to be now. Her relationship with her father is strained and she finds herself wishing he would be the man she used to know before. Christian and Brenda were the absolute bright spots in Brynn's life. Brynn thought she loved Christian back in seventh grade and after finally getting her special dance with him at the school dance, he moved away. Now, he has returned and he is the only one who pays any attention to her. He tries to incorporate her back into their group, but she is still so shell-shocked over everything that she can't. She ends up hurting his feelings several times before she finally grasps that he is just what she needs to make it through. His mom Brenda is warm and comforting and accepts Brynn with no reservations. She gives her the attention and motherly affection that she so desperately craves and misses. I love how easy-going Christian is with her. Every time he called her Bryntastic my heart melted a little bit! He has some of his own issues, but he doesn't let his anger for what happened with his sister drag him down or keep him from living his life. He pushes and challenges Brynn in just the way she needs and I really admired him for that. He remembers the girl she used to be and he works to help remind her. "I wanted to see your smile again. Because you're beautiful when you smile and you've lost it, too. I want you to conquer this because what the hell is the purpose in it all, if the first girl I ever danced with loses her smile?" Overall, I really enjoyed the message of hope, forgiveness, and self-discovery that Searching For Beautiful offers its readers. However, I felt kind of meh while reading. While I could appreciate its beauty, I just didn't feel immersed in the storyline like I would have liked. With that being said, it was still a very enjoyable read and I am glad I picked it up for review.
Searching for Beautiful is a YA book with all the classical elements of the genre, an anguished teenager girl, the sweet boy, tears and drama. However, the author achieves to create a book that is more than a simple story about redemption, forgiveness, friendship, grief, moving on and love. To be totally honest, somewhere around page sixty of my copy I was about to dump this book because of the constant reminder of her suffering and self-pity. But I decided to keep reading and it turned out to be a good story. When I finally could relate with Brynn and understand some of her choices I was able to enjoy the story. Basically the blurb summarized it perfectly, after a tragic event in Brynn’s life she makes some choices that leave her alone and sad. Then, little by little she picks up the pieces of her life with the help of the boy next door. Brynn is a bit selfish and really self-centered at first but once I realized that most teenagers believe they are the center of the universe, I started to comprehend Brynn and her actions. It’s true that most of the time I wanted to punch her for not talking to someone and it was annoying to see her wallowing in her own pain. But again, teenagers feel with more intensity and every bad thing seems like the end of the world. Jason is the perfect villain. I know most people will hate him but let’s be honest, there are hundreds of guys like him out there and I think he can be a great warning for all the readers. Still, I couldn’t find the justification of Brynn not knowing who he was convincing enough. Christian was the sweet boy she needed as support and as an anchor. My favorite thing about him is that he is not perfect; he is a bit temperamental for moments. There were other characters, for example Brynn’s father, Brenda and Emery. Each one, despite having a small part on the story, has an important role from a different position. The story has some jumps into the past, this allow us to see what happened before and see the evolution of Brynn and the story. The language is simple but engaging and easy to follow. There are long internal conversations and arguments while Brynn is figuring out who she can trust and how to heal. Mainly what convinced me to continue reading the book was the message the author tries to deliver. Life is not easy and there is no right or wrong in how to live it. We are supposed to make mistakes in our lives, is how we face the consequences what is important. Each person deals with the hard times in their own way and we shouldn’t be judging others for how they choose to manage the pain and suffering, we cannot expect for all to be as strong as some people. Overall, this is a really good YA book. If you like the genre I’m sure you will like it because it has the growing up issues you expect, the sweet romance and the teenager drama you want. For me it was a good read, the general theme as I said in the previous paragraph was excellent but the first part of the book was slow and it took a while to find the story appealing. *** I received an ecopy from the publisher in exchange of an honest review. ***
Initially, I was very hesitant about this. From the blurb, it looked like yet another YA where a girl meets a boy who makes her life complete… Although Searching For Beautiful did have traces of that, it was more a story of self-realisation. Christian does help Brynn get her life back on track, but not in an obsessive, needy way; and just as much help comes from Brynn’s father and female friends. Brynn was an interesting character. She had a tendency towards self-pity, and she did wallow in her grief a lot, but her friends were quick to call her out on it. There isn’t a quick fix to the kind of situation that Brynn finds herself in, and the book doesn’t try to preach that; it shows the time after grief as a slow, awkward process of healing, but made more bearable by the people we surround ourselves with. Brynn’s friends and family played a big part in her story, which was a huge saving grace where Christian was concerned. Without them, he would have been another hot boy love interest who manages to fix the broken female protagonist, but he had plenty of his own messes that needed sorting out, and while he did help her, he was also thoughtless and insensitive; and I liked that a lot. Brynn’s memories of her mum also have a huge influence on her, as well as the absence of her friends and her strained relationship with her dad—the whole story didn’t revolve around Brynn’s time with Christian. Admittedly, I would have liked it even better without any romance in, because my heart is that of a crusty withered cave troll, but I still liked Searching For Beautiful. It was a sweet read—not truly heart-crushing or soul-stomping, but a good solid story well told with real and sympathetic characters.