Breaking Beautiful: It Fell a Little Flat

Breaking Beautiful is written by Jennifer Shaw Wolf. It was published by Bloomsbury in 2012. It is Wolf’s first novel. Her website can be found here and her blog can be found here.

Genre: Tough Read, Realistic

Cover Art


“Allie can’t remember the night her boyfriend, Trip, died.

She knows they were driving on the cliff road.

That Trip lost control.

That she woke up later, broken and bruised.

That, somehow, she survived.

All Allie has left are the scars, a constant reminder of Trip. Not ready to face the truth, she tries to ignore a nagging feeling that the crash wasn’t an accident. Her best friend, Blake, and her brother, Andrew, will do anything to help Allie move on, but when the police reopen the investigation in to the crash, suspicions in their small town intensify. Soon Allie’s memories collide with a dark secret about Trip she’s kept for too long. Caught somewhere between her past and her future, can Allie fin the truth so she can finally break free?”

~Inside Flap


“A detective? Here?” Mom laughs, but it’s a nervous laugh.

“My guess is Mr. Phillips has been putting pressure on Chief Milton to reopen the investigation.” Dad sounds casual, but the weight of what he’s saying presses against the scar on the back of my head. I open the door an inch more and take a half step into the hall.

“Why would he…?” But Mom works for Mr. Phillips. She knows that answer almost as well as I do.

Dad sets his coffee mug down on the countertop. “My guess is he thinks Chief Milton didn’t take the accident investigation seriously. That maybe there was something he missed.”

~Wolf 6

“The image of Trip’s eyes, the last time he looked at me, the last time he looked at anyone, is burned into my brain. He looked at me like he was afraid of me, like he was looking at a ghost.

All this time, I’ve wondered what happened that night, how I got hurt, how Trip ended up going over the edge. Now every heartbeat pulses one question.

What did I do?”

~Wolf 190

Warnings: Tiny bit of swearing, violence, abuse.

Recommended Age Range: 16+

Rating: 4/5

What I Liked:

I like this book a lot. It has a very good balance of dark and light, angst and warmth. It reminds me quite a bit of Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (which I’ve been referencing a lot lately! Maybe I should review it); they both deal with the same subjects. Allie’s struggle after the accident is both heartbreaking, as she deals with guilt and the knowledge of what actually happened, and heartwarming, as she works to put it behind her.

There’s quite a bit of angst, so fair warning if that’s not your cup of tea. However, it’s not overdone by any means. It all flows quite naturally and isn’t too heavy-handed.

Fortunately, angst is MY cup of tea

Andrew is a gem of a character. I can’t really say much about him because I don’t want to spoil too much, but his reactions, his behavior, everything, was very well done.

What I Didn’t Like:

The ending left a little bit to be desired, unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great ending, but some things just seemed to be left open that I thought could have been closed. For example: Hannah. I was dying to know, when Allie confronted her, whether Trip treated her like he treated Allie and Hannah was just in denial about it or if Hannah actually had no idea what Allie was talking about. But it’s left a mystery and I didn’t want it to be.

Also, the big reveal at the end (What Happened That Night) fell a little flat. It felt a little contrived to me. Maybe I was just hoping for something more or something less…involved.

Overall Review:

Breaking Beautiful tells the story of recovery and the struggle that accompanies it in a wonderfully sad, heartwarming way. The ending was really the only downside, but it was a hopeful ending nonetheless.

Coming Up Next: Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve

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