As a big fan of contemporary books, as soon as I saw We Were Beautiful, I knew it would be a book for me! Don’t get me wrong, I love the fluffy and cute books, but I also really enjoy a book that’s a bit harder to read. Thanks to the publisher and The Fantastic Flying Book Club for providing me an ARC to read and review. Today I want to tell you what I thought of this book!
We Were Beautiful
by Heather Hepler
Release date: April 2, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in the car crash that killed her older sister and left her terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it could consume her.
As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the cafe down the street. There she meets Fig–blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious–who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends–including Cooper, the artistic boy who is always on Mia’s mind–she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.
Over the summer, Mia begins to learn that redemption isn’t as impossible as she once thought, but her scars inside run deep and aren’t nearly so simple to heal … especially when Mia finally pieces together her memories of the night Rachel died.
We Were Beautiful is a truly beautiful story of grief, family, friendship and learning to love yourself. Mia is still dealing with all the scars of losing her sister a few years before the story starts. It’s clear that it had a big impact on their family and Mia feels that she’s to blame for everything. That’s why she’s not in the least surprised she’s being sent off to live with her grandmother who she never met.
Mia didn’t only lose her sister that day, but her face was scarred pretty bad after the accident. In a way she feels she deserves this, because the accident is her fault, but it’s also really hard for her. People stare and look at her like the scar is all she is! That’s why she’s hoping to lay low while with her grandmother. Only her grandmother has different plans.
Mia has a job at a family diner and it really changes her life. They welcome her with open arms and Fig (the owner’s granddaughter) connects with her from the start. I loved seeing Mia welcomed so easily into someone’s life, including all of Fig’s friends. Mia is the only one who doesn’t realize that after getting to know her a bit, no one notices the scars!
This journey is a hard one for Mia. On top of the grief and regret she feels, it’s also hard dealing with parents who have kind of gone off the radar. That’s why I loved the role her grandmother played. In the beginning, she’s very distant, but they slowly become closer and I feel the love. This unconditional love is something Mia really needed.
We Were Beautiful isn’t a fast and fluffy read. This story is actually pretty slow and in many ways it’s Mia’s diary. Her journey of dealing with all of her feelings, accepting them and even learning to talk about them. For Mia to realize that the accident doesn’t define her and neither do the scars on her face. She’s her own kind of beautiful!
Besides Mia’s grandmother, her group of friends really play a big part in this. Fig takes the lead wither her family and then add the other members of the group. Each friend is unique and has their own history. All of them have dealt with abuse (it can be hard to read at times, but it’s such a beautiful book) and have found each other to lean on and have fun with. Family isn’t always blood!
Like most contemporary stories, there is a bit of romance, but it doesn’t take over the story. It takes time to develop and I think in the end it helps both Cooper and Mia. Without even realizing it, they help the other in many ways! I honestly wouldn’t have minded seeing them interact a bit more.
I definitely recommend reading this book, maybe only for the fact that it shows that everybody is beautiful in their own way. This is the first book I have read by Heather Hepler, but it definitely won’t be the last!
Of course there are many other amazing blogs participating during this blog tour. Click here to see the whole schedule!
For US readers there are five finished copies of We Were Beautiful up for grabs. This giveaway started April 22nd and will end on May 1st. Click here to check out what you have to do to enter!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heather Hepler is the author of several books for teens and tweens, including Frosted Kisses (Scholastic, 2015), Love? Maybe (Dial, 2012) and The Cupcake Queen(Dutton, 2009).
She loves tomato soup, fat cats, and hiking. (Not necessarily in that order.) She’s lived in East Texas, Alaska, and Death Valley. Currently she, her son, their two spoiled cats, and their ridiculously smart dog live in Downeast Maine.
We Were Beautiful is truly a beautiful book! I love seeing characters go on a journey and start realizing that things can change. What’s your favorite serious contemporary? Or what light and fluffy ones are your favorite?