Title: Positively Beautiful
Author: Wendy Mills
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
Positively Beautiful was the October pick for my book club, Young Adult for Adults, also known as YAFA. We also read Wendy Mills’s other young adult book, What We Have Left, last year, so I was excited to read another book by her. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was Tuesday of the week of book club before I got to it. I rushed to finish it, because I wasn’t able to go last month and I wanted to participate in the discussion. I was expecting something thoughtful and well-written, which I got, but what I was not expecting was a heavy, heartbreaking book about love, bravery, severe illness, and finding yourself; this book made me laugh, cry, and think, and I will never forget Erin Bailey or her painful, tender journey to acceptance.
Erin Bailey has only ever had her mother; she lost her father to a motorcycle accident when she was just six years old. Fearful, painfully shy, and mostly friendless, she tends to keep to herself, her best friend Trina, and her mother, who is almost like her other best friend. But her world is shattered when her mother is diagnosed with breast cancer. Reeling from sadness and shock, she gets another nasty surprise: She, too, is positive for the gene that could give her two severe types of cancer. Out of control and listless, she signs up for flying lessons in an effort to get her life back and feel close to her late father. As she begins to explore what her life really means in the big scheme of things, she discovers what it really means to live for the moment, even when life pushes her to the brink…
This book was amazing! Brutal, beautiful, and tender, Positively Beautiful shattered me apart and then slowly, painfully, stitched me back together. The prose was beautiful, searing, and sharp, and Erin was a flawed but relatable character; I really enjoyed her. I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, but it surely wasn’t me being a bawling mess practically every other page. Bittersweet, bitingly funny and more than a little dark, I really liked her journey, as heartbreaking and messy as it was. Her narration was really what kept the book moving, because some of the other characters seemed kind of flat, especially Chaz and Trina. But I loved Erin, her mother, and Jason the most, and the way that Erin went from shocked and angry to accepting was very realistic. Honestly, though, this book was really hard to get through; if I wasn’t screaming, I was crying hysterically; there were several times that I had to walk away so I could breathe and collect myself. But Wendy Mills’s second contemporary young adult novel delivers in spades, especially in the heartbreaking department. The bottom line: Full of heartbreak, love in all of its forms, and spunk, I loved Positively Beautiful! Next on deck: The Storm Runner by J.C. Cervantes!