Ordinary Beauty- Laura Wiess
How can you make someone love you when they won’t?
And what if that person happens to be your mother?
Sayre Bellavia grew up knowing she was a mistake: unplanned and unwanted. At five months shy of eighteen, she’s become an expert in loneliness, heartache, and neglect. Her whole life she’s been cursed, used, and left behind. Swallowed a thousand tears and ignored a thousand deliberate cruelties. Sayre’s stuck by her mother through hell, tried to help her, be near her, be important to her even as her mother slipped away into a violent haze of addiction, destroying the only chance Sayre ever had for a real family.
Now her mother is lying in a hospital bed, near death, ravaged by her own destructive behavior. And as Sayre fights her way to her mother’s bedside, she is terrified but determined to get the answer to a question no one should ever have to ask: Did my mother ever really love me? And what will Sayre do if the answer is yes?
I loved this book.
It was no surprise, really, since I've read and loved all of Laura Wiess's novels. Each one more and more powerful, heart wrenching and true that I can't believe it. At the end of each, I'm left shocked, though not surprised at the depth and trueness of them. This author has a knack for taking the gritty, dirty aspects of the real world, and shaping them into beautifully written and deep novels that stick with you, hours—days—after reading.
Ordinary Beauty is my new favorite Wiess novel. Hell, it’s my new favorite novel. Period. It follows Sayre, a seventeen-year-old girl whose mother struggles with, and loses the battle to, drugs and alcohol. It speaks of the turmoil that a child feels when her mother neglects and ignores her, how terrible it feels when you realize, not for the first time, that your own mother doesn't love you. We follow Sayre through her battle with visiting her own mother, sick and dying in the hospital, and we struggle along with her as she comes to grips with her life as her mother so disgustingly shaped it.
Readers are taken on a journey that's full of heartbreak, painful realizations, tears, and the whole nine yards. Wiess manages to, again, take something as common as a parent neglecting a child for their own needs, and morphing it into one of the best book's I've read this year. I can't tell you of a book I've felt more in-tune with than Ordinary Beauty. You can't help but feel Sayre's loss and pain, can't help but cry along with her, and you can't help but feel the same towards the people around her as she herself feels. Anyone who has experienced, or anyone who hasn't experienced some of the similarities in their lives will love this book. I know I did.
Sayre, in my mind, is a real character. I don't know how Laura Wiess managed to make her so vivid a character, but she did.
Throughout this book, I must've gone through 30 tissues—I'm a sap, when it comes to child neglect, what can I say?
Anyone who enjoys real stories should give this one a chance.
Oh, and being the cover-junkie I am, let me reflect on how perfect this one is. The girl looks like an actual, seventeen-year-old who has seen and faced hardships in her life. None of those beautiful cover-models. This girl looks real—and it makes the book, if possible, more relatable.
5/5 stars/ Ordinary Beauty releases on June 14, 2011
(Link and synopsis' are now from Goodreads; just letting you know!)