by Mary Cope
Some stories gloss over issues like dealing with jealousy and anger but Beautiful One did nothing of the sort –it encompassed those issues and turned what could have been described as a good story into as great story because by making it real and addressing issues that affect hundreds of people, the tale has resonance – it has meaning, and in many cases it may even have poignancy.
Set in the last year of high school, we are introduced to Elizabeth Ryan and her twin brother Mason. The story centres mainly around Elizabeth and her transformation from the overweight, niave ugly duckling to a beautiful swan.
Elizabeth has never been one of the in crowd, always a bit of an academic geek – physically not one of the so called, beautiful people and Elizabeth has never really harboured any desire to conform to the standard stereotype – until in a moment of self awakening – she sets eyes on Aidan Mitchell and in a light bulb moment, she kicks her butt into gear and makes a change.
I liked the fact the author drew attention to the small changes Elizabeth made to her routine in order to include exercise in her plan, how she never beat herself up about what she was doing.
I loved the fact that her parents were descretely supportive, never critical and showed nothing but encouragement to her.
Praise is only praise when it is merited – for no reason it is just smoke and mirrors!
Elizabeth has always liked being in the shadows – hiding in plain sight behind her brother Mason but secretly envying his relationship with her best friend Melissa.
While Mason fronts his own band, Elizabeth has the voice that everyone wants to hear – she is brilliant but too shy to get up on stage – with persuasion she signs at church but even that tests her nerves.
Mason and Melissa were a fabulous couple- a great role model for youngsters – they were confident in the fact that they loved each other and that they had a trust that would survive anything – I mean she told him everything. It was a refreshing change to read about a young couple who were happy in themselves and content to be together without having their sexual exploits ( if any because there were none mentioned in the book) rammed down your throat.
Elizabeth on the other hand embarks on a relationship with Aiden, much to everyone’s amazement – this quite unassuming girl and the good looking dude from school who could have any girl he wants – and has done!
But what others don’t see is the Aidan is struggling with the effects of a broken home, a father that has now married wife number three and a mother who is back in rehab to deal with her Meth addiction. Nothing about his home life is warm and cuddly – the boy is an emotional mess.
Sensitive Elizabeth, cottons on quickly to his mood swings and while others are keen for her to sever her relationship with Aidan, she isn't – she can see his pain and wants to give him the benefit of the doubt – she is sure she knows the real him.
Spencer Hayes is a different kettle of fish, Elizabeth’s draw to Spencer is undeniable – although she fights it every step of the way – firstly because she is in a relationship with Aidan and then because she believes that he is in a relationship with Kara.
Spencer is a little bit of a dark horse, the mysterious neighbour and music teacher.
Struggling to deal with the death of his father and sister but trying to be all good things to everyone. His younger brothers were delightful and I enjoyed the interaction between Elizabeth and them. The tension between both Spencer and Elizabeth was tangible, he brought out the best in her – he made her face her demons and gave her the courage to let the world hear her voice.
He was a genuinely good guy – didn’t hurt that he was smoking hot, covered in tattoo’s and rode a motorcycle!!
Phew no, did not hurt one little bit!!
Be it Aidan or Spencer, Elizabeth would have ended up with a good guy either way – because despite his anger issues, which he took her advice and sought help for – both of the guys were nice guys.
Flawed in their own way but not beyond repair.
The book was a true revelation, out and out romance that dealt with the mundane things in life that make us who we are and helped to show that only by openly addressing issues can they eventually be overcome.
I appreciated the fact that that Ms Cope took such inherently difficult situations such as an ( potentially) abusive relationship, bereavement, drug abuse and showed that bad things happen to good people – those bad things don’t define who you are – they only show you who you don’t want to be.
Effective, simple creativity at its best.