Book Review: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf*
Published: April 24th, 2012 by Walkers Childrens
Genre: Young Adult > Contemporary
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Source: From publisher via NetGalley (thank you Walkers Childrens!)
Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship.

When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free? Debut writer Jennifer Shaw Wolf takes readers on an emotional ride through the murky waters of love, shame, and, ultimately, forgiveness. — taken from


I’m a bit of a sucker for novels that are based on abusive relationships. Maybe to remind myself I got out lucky. Maybe because it’s comforting that someone somewhere else was stuck like me and made it out okay, even if the person is a fictional character. Whatever the reason, I’m always drawn to them.

When I picked up Breaking Beautiful, I wasn’t aware that it was a book about abusive relationships and I was in for a whirlwind of very strong emotions.

Allie is stuck, she’s literally stuck. She can barely function even months after an accident that claimed the life for her boyfriend Trip. She struggles to remember the details of that night and with the fear of going back to school. When she finally gathers the courage, things aren’t what they seem at first and as the investigation goes on, people start to show their true colors not just that but someone is stalking Allie.

There were plenty of points in this book that made me angry. The fact that the town is so small that it seems its residents brains are just as small. The fact that people were pointing fingers at Allie even though Trip’s friends knew the truth but chose to turn away from it. How evil Trip’s father was, he reminded me of Dan Scott from One Tree Hill. Too bad he wasn’t lucky enough to be caught in a burning building, that woulda been something. The way the town treated Blake who for the most part stayed out of peoples way. Oh and Allie’s mother, the lady needs to get a clue.

But I did like a lot of things too. How much Blake cared about Allie, how hard he struggled to do the right thing and take care of her as well as keep his promises. The bond between Allie and her special needs brother Andrew was incredibly sweet.

We only see Trip through Allie’s flashbacks but that’s enough to know who he was when he was around. Wolf did an incredible job of painting a very vivid picture of the situation at hand and portraying Allie’s anxiety perfectly.

Side note: It sort of bothers me when people review books on abusive relationships and are quick to say “I don’t get why she didn’t just leave him.” / “That would never be me.” it’s easy to say those things when you’re not or never have been in that situation. Like I said, I think Wolf did a great job of capturing the fear and anxiety that Allie felt. She also did a great job of capturing the fact that people who cared about Allie just wanted to help but she felt so hopeless that she couldn’t accept it and I wish more people would understand what it’s like and feel a little more compassion to the person in that situation.

Overall I enjoyed this read. While it’s not something I would recommend as a summer beach read, I do believe it’s a good read for young adults. We can only hope that books like this will make them more aware.

*Leads to an affiliate link with Amazon that allows me to earn.

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