Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ordinary Beauty by 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? (from Goodreads)

Ordinary Beauty has left me a wreck. Never have I been left so emotionally drained from reading a book. While this may sound negative to some, it is one of the best feelings I can great from reading. I know this book and Sayre's story will be with me for a long time.

Laura Wiess has written a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story of a young girl who has lived a life of abuse, abandonment and neglect with very few moments of hope. The novel begins just as Sayre learns that her mother has been admitted to the hospital once again and is forced out of the house to walk miles in the ice and snow to visit her. In an attempt to avoid being hit on the snow-covered road, she actually causes an accident and must try to save the severely injured driver. It is during the hours of waiting for help to arrive that Sayre begins to lend her voice, bit by bit, to all of the horrors she has endured growing up with an addict for a mother and break away from a past that has had a stranglehold on her for her entire life.

This was a tough story to read but I was pulled in immediately and couldn't stop until I knew that Sayre was going to be okay. The emotional struggles that she went through while retelling her memories to her mother on her death-bed had me in knots time after time. Just when I thought I knew the worst of it, there was always something else even more devastating. And I think what got me the most was seeing, very vividly, this young child experience all of this pain. This is a testament to Wiess's no holds barred writing to reveal a truth that many people willingly ignore. 

Even though I am now a mess from reading this book, I recommend it to anyone who doesn't shy away from the harsh truths of the world of addiction and wants to read a story so real that it haunts you to your core. 

Ordinary Beauty is the fourth novel by Laura Wiess and is now available from MTV Books/Simon and Schuster. You can visit Laura's website at http://www.laurawiess.com/


  1. oh i love books that make me a wreck as well (although i have to be in the right mood for it ...)

    gorgeous review Joli :)

  2. Great review. I read this one a few days ago and pretty much felt the same way you did about it.


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