Published by The Studio on October 28, 2014
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
I’ve always wanted to be beautiful, but the irony is that you can’t force it—real beauty is when you don’t have to try, it’s just there. You wake up to it, like freshly fallen snow outside your window, and it’s yours to bask in. Real beauty is for people like my roommate, Kate, who float through life.
I don’t float—I run.
Sophomore year at Dutchess College has just begun, and Nicole is still haunted by memories of her first love, Zach. As the changing leaves fall on the stately Hudson Valley campus, she takes solace in running—pushing herself to go harder, faster, to be the best. With the wind blowing through her hair, she can almost convince herself that she is beautiful, that she will find love again.
So when Nico runs, quite literally, into the maddeningly elusive Justin, she’s convinced she’s found the guy to make her forget her ex—despite the warnings of her friends and her straight-edged running partner, Luke.
But when Nico is attacked in the woods after a wild night of partying, everything changes. Suddenly, Nico begins receiving anonymous threats, and she no longer knows where to turn for help—or whether even her close friends can be trusted.
All she wants is to be one of the beautiful girls—the ones who never have to chase perfection. But in order to uncover the truth, she’ll have to face a past she had hoped to leave behind forever. She thought she could outrun the darkness, but darkness has a way of catching up...and only one boy can save her.
Beautiful Girl is the first book I’ve read from Paper Lantern Lit’s publishing imprint and it’s definitely set my expectations pretty high for their future books. Lida James’ debut novel has pretty much everything readers could want: suspense, romance, mystery, and betrayal. I was hooked from the moment I picked it up.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nicole when I first started the book. She’s not an easy girl to like and it was hard for me to figure out if she might be a little bit crazy. She definitely seemed like she might be a bit of an unreliable narrator. She was paranoid and a little obsessive when it came to certain people in her life. She was also very confused about guys. She was a little bit of a tease and that was probably my biggest issue with her. She had 3 or 4 guys interested in her and it seemed like she just played them all. I had no clue which one of the guys she was truly interested in although I knew which one I thought she should be interested in. Henry was the only guy that seemed to be really good for Nicole. He was sweet and charming and a little shy. He was good for her and didn’t bring out the bad side of her like Justin or Zach did.
As for the mystery, I saw part of it from the start but there were many things that managed to surprise me throughout the course of the book. Things kept happening and I’d expect one person to be doing them only to find out later that it was someone else. I think Nicole’s paranoia really added to the mystery. There were times when I was sure she was right about whoever was attacking her and other times I was sure she was just losing her mind. It kept things interesting, that’s for sure.
The friendships in the book really did very little for me. Nicole’s roommates were supposed to be her friends but I saw Monica more as a frenemy than anything and Kate was barely there for most of the book. I just didn’t understand any of the draws for the friendships and I thought they were actually quite mean to each other. They definitely had more of a relationship that involved a lot of backstabbing and jealousy.
Overall, Beautiful Girl is a thoroughly interesting read that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It definitely fits into the new adult category since it deals a lot with sex, drugs, alcohol, and other explicit content but it’s not done for the shock factor alone. I’d highly recommend this one for fans of suspense.
What others are saying about Beautiful Girl:
Reading Lark’s review: “I think in the end Lida James has created a story that will remind you of the beauty of hope and new beginnings.”
Fiktshun’s review: “BEAUTIFUL GIRL is a dark and intriguing story with gorgeous writing, an array of disturbing, maddening, sympathetic, likable and detestable characters facing a number of tough issues, and a chilling and suspenseful mystery.”
About the author:
Lida James grew up in Brooklyn, New York and graduated cum laude from Vassar College with a BFA in English (and a lot of film credits, too). After working as a cameraperson on feature films in NYC she relocated to Los Angeles in search of mountains and waves. Once there, she wrote and sold screenplays (and snowboarded and windsurfed). She continues to enjoy living in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children—all shredders like herself—and two rescue dogs. Beautiful Girl is her first novel. Follow her on Twitter to learn more and for updates! photo © Amy Malloy