Released: June 2011
Publisher: MTV Books
You can read the Goodreads summary here.
You can add this to the list of books I never would have read if it weren't for my book club, mainly because I'd never even heard of it until I learned it was our September selection. Why hadn't I heard of this book, especially when it seems books that will make you weep (TFiOS, anyone?) are becoming more and more popular? But the plot description appealed to me so I wasn't sorry to pick it up and read it.
Sayre was unplanned and unwanted and her mother never hesitated to share that with her. Growing up with a drug and alcohol addicted mother was hard, but now, just two weeks after having left her, Sayre is told her mother is on her death bed at the hospital - liver failure and this time she won't be leaving the hospital alive. It's a stormy winter night when Sayre tries to get to her mother's bedside, and along the way she can't help but remember what it was liking growing up not knowing whether or not her mother loved her.
Ordinary Beauty is told through two different story lines with the same point of view. The first is what's going with Sayre right now - her mother is dying in a hospital bed and she's trying to get there before it's too late. The second is a series of flashbacks of Sayre's life, from when she was a toddler through now, and everything that happened in between; different homes, different people in her life, different emotions. The time shifts of the narrative really added to what Sayre was experiencing. The flashbacks occurred at exactly the right time and helped us understand what Sayre was feeling in that moment.
And you would think that growing up having lost several loved ones and having to spend most of your time with a drugged out mother who doesn't give a shit about you would give you an unbreakable sense of depression, that you would succumb and become like her, that all your memories of your childhood would be black and terrible and not worth remembering. But I was surprised to see that not all of Sayre's flashbacks are bad. There are times in her life that she was truly happy and that made me smile.
Of course, there were those times when things were horrible. Ordinary Beauty was heart wrenching. It was very difficult to watch a lovely, smart little girl have to live like she did. I grew up sheltered, I mean I'm not stupid, I know these things go on, but to see it in such a personal way was heartbreaking to me. Me, the gal who never sheds a tear at books (but readily will at jewelry commercials) teared up a little. Ordinary Beauty is a unique wave of emotions, it gets harder and harder to read as you go on, but you can't put it down.
Four stars! Don't let the sad topic of the book keep you from reading Ordinary Beauty. It's ultimately a beautiful story of hope and understanding. Why this book doesn't even have three hundred ratings on Goodreads is beyond me, and I hope I have convinced some of you to seriously give it a look.