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Spare, beautiful prose, full of truths and ironies, fleshes out a modern-day version of Beauty and the Beast. Author Lauren Baratz-Logsted works her magic, weaving a tale of a high school reject-of-his-own-making and the lovely, pure girl who sees beyond his hideousness.

Lucius and Aurora begin telling their story on their first day of school, where both are new students, and the viewpoint alters chapter to chapter. Particularly interesting is how the same incident is told first from one character’s perspective and then from another’s. The tension is increased with the unfolding, as we yearn for the characters to see the light of truth beyond their misconceptions. As the legend becomes life, Lucius withdraws further into himself and sees the glimmer of her goodness from the bottom of his despair.

The minor characters serve their purpose well – Jessup, the nemesis of Lucius; and Celia and Deanie, foils for Aurora. Even Misty, Lucius’ little sister, who begins the novel as the perfect tormentor, has an interesting role in the drama. As in most fairy tales, the parents take a secondary role, but are important to illustrate how the main characters became the people they are. The contrasts of their families heightens the comparison between Lucius and Aurora.

CRAZY BEAUTIFUL flows smoothly and pulls us toward the inevitable ending. Like any fable, some portions of her novel are painted with large, bold brushstrokes, but Baratz-Logsted is deft at intricacies, as well. Her precise word choices spring from the page and paint a portrait of two teens fated to be together, while having many obstacles thrown in their converging paths. She softens the blow of their tragedy with humor, woven throughout.

This novel is appropriate for middle school students to high school, even though the main characters are of high school age. As both the male and the female protagonists share the narrator’s role, either boys or girls will appreciate it. As a retelling of a fairy tale familiar to most, it is sure to attract reluctant readers, too. Lauren Baratz-Logsted has spun a romance worthy of the ages between a guy with hooks for hands and the beautiful girl, whom he longs will notice him. Due out September 2009 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 3rd, 2009 10:16 am (UTC)
Sounds like an excellent novel. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the review.
Aug. 3rd, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
I hope you enjoy it! It gave me some ideas on how other fairy tales could be turned into contemporary YA.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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