From Amazon: When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie's chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who's worth noticing. Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined...one moment, one choice, will change everything.
I have very mixed feelings about Beautiful. I admire its honesty and lack of censorship, but there's one thing that bothered me: I didn't like any of the characters.
I didn't think Cassie's motivation behind her drastic change in behaviour was explained enough, so I never really empathised with her. To me, she just seemed easily led and swayed by anything and anyone. I understand that thirteen-year-olds are impressionable, but some of the situations she found herself in could have been so easily avoided had she just thought about what she was doing.
Cassie's friends, Alex and Sarah, were also hard to follow. Alex was a bad influence, while Sarah was so scarred from past abuse that she just wandered around in a daze. I didn't like either of them, and the events of the final few chapters didn't resonate with me at all.
The first person present tense narration was a nice change, and I enjoyed being right there as Cassie's story unfolded. Amy Reed wasn't afraid to write about sex and drugs, and although some readers will feel uncomfortable with the content, I think it's important to not shy away from these topics.
The events of Beautiful do happen in real life, and I think they should continue to be realistically portrayed in YA fiction. Everything isn't always perfect, and perhaps Reed's biggest achievement is breaking the mould and simply telling it how it is.