A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Let me start by saying I really wanted to give this book 5 stars, but couldn't for some reasons which I'll discuss in a moment.
Suzanne Young can really write. It's the WOW kind of writing I felt when I read Hunger Games, or Before I Fall, or Night World. Just beautiful. Suzanne tells Charlotte's story in a way that make you believe it's real...or could be. The character development is simply amazing. Each character has its own distinct voice and you can almost see them, even those you only meet for a few paragraphs. Also, Suzanne give you just enough information, just enough stuff happens, to keep you begging for more to find out the final outcome. Even until the very end, you aren't 100% sure what Charlotte will do. I know there is a sequel to this book and I will definitely get it out from the library.
So, why didn't I give it 5 stars? The writing is stellar. The characters are solid. The plot is paced perfectly. So why not the full 5 stars?
Well, I'm going to try my best to explain. This book is written for teens. I know teens experiment with everything from sex to alcohol to drugs and more. I know they see these things on t.v., in the tabloids, in school, and in books. It's all there, so why try to hide it and pretend it's not?
Because not everything needs to glorify or normalize those behaviors. I really hoped and expected this book to have more of a moral compass than it did. I mean, the girl is supposed to be love and light and goodness embodied. She's supposed to choose good things. And yet she has premarital sex, her best friend is involved in sexual acts and alcohol abuse, and her brother and another character are openly gay. Now, please, I'm not a gay hater BUT I don't think books which are geared toward our impressionable youth need to be so mainstream and try to 'fit' the modern media-produced image of what's acceptable for teens. The same goes with the sex stuff. By putting all of these behaviors in a book about choosing what is right over wrong, or light over darkness, it makes these actions acceptable and okay. It even kind of glorifies them.
See, I truly don't think this story would be any less beautiful without the sex stuff. In fact, it would've been maybe more beautiful because I could've shared the story with my daughter. And the gay characters were given that character trait unnecessarily. They would be no less appreciated, no less loved, if they'd been straight instead. Their issues/problems would still have been real and hard to deal with. It is just an attempt at being mainstream which really just made the story less beautiful in my eyes.
The drug and alcohol abuse shown in the story was done in a way that made it known to be a negative choice. A junkie mother was going to lose her daughter. The teen drinking alcohol becomes seriously ill and loses her freedoms, friends, and even the school she was going to. Negative consequences for negative choices and for that, I was okay with it being in this book.
So, as I've said, the writing is amazing, the story unique, and the characters fleshed out and believeable. I only wish the story was a little cleaner so I could let my children read it. I definitely plan to read the next book A Want So Wicked and anything else Suzanne Young writes.
View all my reviews