Read Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess Online


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 thousandHow 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?...

Title : Ordinary Beauty
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 11389109
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ordinary Beauty Reviews

  • Joni Thomas
    2019-06-19 10:21

    This story hit me hard. There were times in this book that I had to put it down and walk away. I received this in the mail about a week ago and it has taken me that long to get through it. Not because it was a bad book. On the contrary, Laura Wiess has done it again by creating a startlingly honest novel about something people know happens but choose to ignore. I am sure we have all seen the kid in school with the dirty clothes who seems to never bathe and most people, at least at my old school, blamed the kid for the way they appeared. But this story brings up the point that it's not the child's choice to live that way. You have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. In this story the main character, Sayre has lived with her mother and her mother's addictions her whole life. Her mother is an alcoholic and has been addicted to meth and is now addicted to pain pills. She has never taken care of Sayre, and spends every cent they have on her addictions. To say this girl had an awful life is not even the half of it. At one point her mother's best friend tried to kill her with a hammer. A neighbor called the police and her mother was arrested but as soon as her mother was released, Sayre was made to live with her again. That's one of the most disturbing thing about this story. Though no one knew everything that was going on, people knew enough and yet they never did anything to stop it. Now, Sayre is 17 and her mother is in the hospital dying of liver failure. Sayre is determined that before her mother dies to find out the truth once and for all. A question no child should ever have to ask. Did my mother ever love me?This book is haunting. For me on personal levels. My own mother was an addict. She gave me up and I lived with my grandparents and then after they fell ill, I moved in with distant cousins. But reading this book was like reading the way my life could have turned out. The fact that things like this happen, that there are children out there living a life close to how Sayre lives is heartbreaking. There is not one person out there that can read this story and not be haunted by it. All in all, a breathtaking, haunting, amazing story. Laura Wiess has done it again.

  • Aleeeeeza
    2019-05-28 12:11

    *4.5 stars*So here’s the thing: I really don’t understand it when people say they don’t like reading ‘issue’ books. In my opinion, the best type of escapist fiction is the one that deals with issues, turns them into ultimately satisfying stories that you get something out of. That’s why Ordinary Beauty appealed to me right from the moment I read its summary (and, okay, totally swooned after its cover, because dang, it is GORGEOUS).The book focuses on Sayre Bellavia, a girl who’s been brought up in the dreariest conditions imaginable. She was an unwanted child, born to a sixteen-year-old mother who had high hopes of being a lawyer and ended up getting stuck with a child instead. It pretty much screams: THIS BOOK HAZ ISSUES. And the author herself is known for writing gripping novels that deal realistically with issues. I was sold.I won an ARC of Where She went by Gayle Forman a long time back and decided I was going to read it after my exams, since I’d heard about how depressing it was, and during exams I try to stay as far away as possible from depressing stuff. Had I known that Ordinary Beauty was such a harrowing book, I don’t know if I’d have begun it. The effect it had on me was sort of like the Train Wreck Effect, a term I learned from my Goodreads friend Nomes, used to describe reading a book that’s horrifying and gut-wrenching, but you keep on reading it anyway, unable to tear your eyes away from it. I mean this in the best possible way. Sayre has led the kind of life that had me shaking my head in shock at the horrors she’d been forced through, and as the story progressed my heart grew heavier and heavier until I couldn’t bear it.Her life unravels before us through alternating chapters of the present and the past—the past is an account of her bringing-up, while the present is about a cold night in which she’s hitchhiking up the hospital to meet her mother, who’s in a very critical condition. But she gets stalled when she barely misses getting hit by a huge truck that swerves at the last second, which causes is to fall over the hill. The only thing holding it up is the pine trees surrounding the crevasse and the walls in which the truck’s settled in. And let me tell you, if that sounds horrible, it was absolutely terrifying to read it, all thanks to the author’s amazing writing skills. Weiss employs many run-on sentences, like jumbled thoughts coming together, and while it took me a while to get used to, they suited the story really well.And the suspense! The pacing was for the most part fantastic and I was dying to find out the events of the past that had led up to the present. There were a bit too many flashbacks in the second half, which got just a teensy bit tiring, but not so much that it annoyed me. Every character in this book has a solid history behind him/her, they all ring extremely true, and all of them made you feel. While the plot is spellbinding, so are the characters, especially Sayre’s mother—I kept on thinking while reading about her: How can anyone be so cruel? How can someone like her ever redeem herself in the eyes of her daughter? HOW IS THERE ANY HOPE IN THE WORLD FOR SOMEONE LIKE SAYRE?But there is! And that’s sort of the point of the novel: the ordinary beauty in life found in simple things like love, understanding, and respect. I do wish that we’d been the message had been given in a more profound way, one that would make the ending a lot more satisfying. Okay, so the ending was still really profound, and I’m probably just being nitpicky. I also wanted gotten to know more about Evan—the guy in the truck who Sayre helps get to the hospital, although I felt like I did get to know him fairly well by the end of the book. Is it my fault I like him so much that I want to read more about him? The way the author ended the book was the best possible ending there could be, and it very nearly brought me to tears.Highly recommended to fans of contemporary fiction EVERYWHERE. Laura Weiss, I am totally going to stalk the rest of your books now. Har har.

  • Kate
    2019-06-24 14:00

    Ordinary Beauty is a harsh wake up call that children suffer abuse at the hands of the very people who are suppose to love them and protect them: Their parents. It tells a heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story of a young girl named Sayre, who has lived a life of abuse, abandonment and neglect at the hands of her mother with very few moments of hope. I felt sorry for Sayre and praise her for her determination to survive and not let her struggles define her and give her a much deserved happy ending. This proves that people who have endured such hardships can survive and grow up to be decent human beings.I felt no pity at all for her mother, Dianne, who appears to me nothing more than a textbook narcissist and spoilt immature brat. As far as I am concerned her behavior and mistreatment of Sayre cannot be excused by drug use, having Sayre at fifteen or hardships.She was a rotten human being long before she was on drugs, fell pregnant with Sayre and during brief periods when she was clean and sober. There were even warning signs from when she was young, prime examples are being spoiled, indulged and constantly bailed out of trouble by her father (princess syndrome), cruel to her mother, being a bully, even her guidance councilor diagnosing Dianne as having an antisocial personality.As far as I am concerned Dianne had a provided life growing up, had a home and income that she later inherited from her parents and could have gone towards her education and set her up, but instead squandered on drugs, hence losing the house and living on the streets. Dianne was a step close to securing a privileged life again with a descent, clean living man named Beale who was a hundred times more the parent Sayre needed and deserved, but of course stuffed that up.Dianne does nothing but blame the whole world, including Sayre for her own problems, misfortunes and even drug uses when in reality she is responsible for her own destruction. Even on her deathbed, Dianne doesn't even muster up the strength to apologize to Sayre for the way she treated her. But sadly that is the reality of most situations. Ther is no apologies, no reconciliation, no closure.I did get angry at some of the characters 'playing god' by trying to get Dianne off drugs, reconcile mother and daughter and overlooking the abuse and mistreatment when it was right under their very noses.I agree entirely that this novel will leave you emotionally drained from reading a book. This book is not only for teens, but also for teachers, social workers and law enforcement officers. This book is a prime example of an issue that had been long overlooked and needs to be dealt with. Sometimes the harsh reality is some people do not and cannot be helped and some kids are better off without their parents.

  • Greta is Erikasbuddy
    2019-06-09 12:20

    Simply magnificent, brilliant, honest, and real.A tragic masterpiece speckled with hope in a sturdy tarnished frame.Loved every word that was written.The characters were so vivid I could see each one in my head.The hardships so detailed that at times you gasp, at times you sob, and at times you smile because you can't help yourself.A story that I have never heard before. Original, vibrant, colorful, and yet dark. I recommend it to all my friends.***Laura Wiess is a wonderful writer. She reminds me of the 1990s. Her books could be songs and her characters leave me speachless.Definately someone to watch :)

  • Morgan F
    2019-06-27 15:01

    I love this cover because the model doesn't look perfect. She looks like a girl.

  • Sierra
    2019-06-26 13:02

    I loved this book. It was no surprise, really, since I've read and loved all of Laura Wiess's novels. Each one more and more powerful, heart wrenching and true that I can't believe it. At the end of each, I'm left shocked, though not surprised at the depth and trueness of them. This author has a knack for taking the gritty, dirty aspects of the real world, and shaping them into beautifully written and deep novels that stick with you, hours—days—after reading. Ordinary Beauty is my new favorite Wiess novel. Hell, it’s my new favorite novel. Period. It follows Sayre, a seventeen-year-old girl whose mother struggles with, and loses the battle to, drugs and alcohol. It speaks of the turmoil that a child feels when her mother neglects and ignores her, how terrible it feels when you realize, not for the first time, that your own mother doesn't love you. We follow Sayre through her battle with visiting her own mother, sick and dying in the hospital, and we struggle along with her as she comes to grips with her life as her mother so disgustingly shaped it. Readers are taken on a journey that's full of heartbreak, painful realizations, tears, and the whole nine yards. Wiess manages to, again, take something as common as a parent neglecting a child for their own needs, and morphing it into one of the best book's I've read this year. I can't tell you of a book I've felt more in-tune with than Ordinary Beauty. You can't help but feel Sayre's loss and pain, can't help but cry along with her, and you can't help but feel the same towards the people around her as she herself feels. Anyone who has experienced, or anyone who hasn't experienced some of the similarities in their lives will love this book. I know I did. Sayre, in my mind, is a real character. I don't know how Laura Wiess managed to make her so vivid a character, but she did.Throughout this book, I must've gone through 30 tissues—I'm a sap, when it comes to child neglect, what can I say?Anyone who enjoys real stories should give this one a chance. Oh, and being the cover-junkie I am, let me reflect on how perfect this one is. The girl looks like an actual, seventeen-year-old who has seen and faced hardships in her life. None of those beautiful cover-models. This girl looks real—and it makes the book, if possible, more relatable.

  • Charlotte
    2019-06-04 07:15

    Ordinary Beauty is the most heart-wrenching book I have read in a very long time. I read it in bed last night and cried pretty much through the entire book. The rebuttal of #YAsaves is based on the premise that many teens live DARK lives, that reading books like Ordinary Beauty and 13 Reasons Why give teens an outlet for their own situations and feelings . At lunch today I was discussing the book with my coworkers and what had happened to Ellie - which I felt was one of the more farfetched portions of the book - when my co-worker piped up and said that a similar scenario had happened in Casper about ten years ago. Her testimony reiterates the fact that Young Adults today don't generally lead happy cheery lives. And even if they do on the outside, there are inner demons being fought on the inside.Ordinary Beauty may be a dark novel, but it is a novel about a young woman who is a fighter. A young woman who is determined to not only survive, but succeed despite what her mother puts her through. I think that is a positive role model for any teen no matter what their situation. I enjoyed this novel so much and it moved me so much, it gets a "Best of" tag and I think it is a well deserved tag. Ordinary Beauty is on sale Tuesday, June 14th.http://charlotteswebofbooks.blogspot....

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    2019-06-20 09:10

    Originally posted on A Reader of Fictions.I really hadn't even heard of this one, but I have always wanted to be part of a book club, so when I learned about the Not So YA Book Club I had to be a part of it. This was their book for September, so I checked the library and they DIDN'T HAVE IT. Epic tragedy. So I checked Amazon and HURRAH! They had it for like 5 bucks. So I bought it and some other books, not expecting much, but deeming it worthwhile for the overall experience.Turns out, though, that I really liked this. When I was a teen and up until a few months ago, I really shied away from 'issues books,' because they're depressing and who needs that from your escapist reads, right? Plus, I'm pretty sure I assumed they were all like Lurlene McDaniel or something, disgustingly sappy and unrealistic. After reading a couple though, I realized that I actually LOVE the incredibly heartrending contemps that make all of the people with souls cry, though I generally don't.Ordinary Beauty is almost unrelentingly depressing. The overall tone is one of despair and desperation. Sayre Bellavia has had an awful, awful life, all because of the influence of her drug addict mother. Ordinary Beauty focuses on that relationship. Some other things happen and some other characters do matter, but what it really comes down to is Sayre and her mother.Impregnated at 15, already a party girl and maker of bad decisions, Sayre's mother decided to have her baby, I think mostly because she only realized she was pregnant when it was too late to do anything about it. The news of Sayre's impending birth caused the grandfather to keel over for one reason or another, throwing the pampered daughter into a spiral and serious drug abuse from which she never recovered. The mother always resents Sayre for destroying her life, never shows any motherly tenderness, which Sayre can never stop craving. I wanted so badly to shake her and get her to freaking leave and go ANYWHERE.Luckily, Sayre spent the first seven years of her life in a fairly stable environment, living with her grandmother and not her mom. This gave her a fairly normal outlook, and perhaps spared her from some of the worst emotional scars. However, most of the rest of her life has been a succession of dirty houses, abuse (mostly verbal) and neglect.The story alternates between numbered chapters, the present timeline, in which Sayre's mother is dying from, well, basically her life, and titled chapters that are her reflections on the past inspired by the mom's impending death. Because it's not linear, we know that, even when times get better, that even worse things are ahead for Sayre, so there's some major dramatic irony going on. Also, even though I essentially knew what was coming, I really didn't guess how it would happen.The whole group had some issues with the book, each of us struggling with Sayre's normalcy and with some of the situations in the book. One that we all doubted was that Sayre's mom would go to the hospital and receive Oxycontin, even though she'd been sent to rehab in the past for drug abuse. Even though I did look askance at a number of things like that, they didn't really subtract from the reading experience too much, because I got so caught up in Sayre's story.The ending, though. The ending just felt so rushed and out of left field. The rest of the book was so sad and then all of a sudden there's a happy ending? What? Plus, there are some sort of dropped plot lines and some skipped time and it's just really unclear. Sayre just magically gets over everything so fast and this, I felt, was the most unrealistic part of the book, little inconsistencies aside. Much as I want Sayre to have a happy ending, it should not have been so idyllic, so untempered by her painful past.Overall, I still really, really liked this, and now want to read all of Wiess's other books. I think everyone in the book club liked it, though most of them sobbed and don't want to read another sad book for like a year. I, however, want more of them.

  • Lisa
    2019-05-27 13:11

    3 1/2 stars.Sometimes I have a hard time when it comes to rating a book by an author whose work I have previously read. I compare it to the author's other books. So this is why rating "Ordinary Beauty" was a bit difficult for me because I liked all her other books better, in this order:How it endsLeftoversSuch a Pretty GirlSuch great books, really. All dealing with tough issues in unique ways. I LOVE the way Laura Wiess writes. It's gorgeous, really. So even though this story in particular was lacking slightly for me, I liked it because it was written so well. It was well built and she really made you hurt along with the main character.Yeah. I couldn't give it a 4 because I didn't really realllllly like it. I thought it was well written but I didn't feel the lurve. You know, the book love? I felt that love after "How it ends". So much love. And after "Leftovers", I was left wide-eyed at the story I had just read. It made me think so much. I can't slag this book off. There is really no major problem with it. I just didn't get the tingles. One thing I thought was weird was the first 80 or so pages which was actually REALLY interesting to me and then it kind of went in another direction. It never went back to the story with Evan. That disaappointed me. I didn't see the point of that.Sigh.The story itself was good though. Reading about an absolutely horrible mother-daughter relationship was interesting and made me think about how lucky I am to have a mother who I consider my best friend. The childhood described was just so sad and especially because Sayre, as a child, didn't realize how messed up it was. There is a scene where she tells someone bad things that have been happening to her but she makes it sound like it's ordinary things.*Slight Spoiler* (view spoiler)[To make that clearer, I think it's a cop she is talking to when she's only 10(or something like that) and she tells him that her mom's friend, Candy, was chasing her with a hammer beause she thought Sayre was stealing her boyfriend. And Sayre says she wasn't trying to steal Candy's boyfriend. It's just the way she talks about this crazy situation and makes it seem sane. I don't know. Hard to explain. (hide spoiler)]Okay. So bad mother/daughter relationship. Very sad story. Makes you think, as all Laura Wiess books do. But it's fault lies in the fact that I like/love her other books more than this one and also that I liked the first 80 pages the best. The actual story was very well written though and heartbreaking.My rating might change slightly. Not sure. This may be one of those books that I'll later decide to up the rating. Who knows?I recommend her books in general. I love her as an author. I will definitely continue to read her books.

  • Jessica Rodriguez
    2019-06-12 09:00

    I believe this maybe the best book I have every read!!Ordinary Beauty has to be the best book I've read so far! I am not saying this lightly this is why- first off the emotions I felt reading this book. Laura Wiess can write her ass off because this reader was an emotional roller coaster right from the beginning. I felt sad, disgusted, agonizing over rather I could finish it and then joy in the end when I did. Second Sayre- she was strong and craved love through out the book from someone that just didn't seem like she could give it. She survived her life by creating a hard shell around herself masking her real feelings. I couldn't believe all the things this girl goes through through out her life. To me she became someone to look up to if she could get through her mother's crap then anything in life had to be easier than she had it. Laura Wiess makes every character get under your skin from Sayre's mom to her best friend Candy who really disgusted me. As well as Miss Mo who was a foster mom to Sayre at one point in the book and was beyond kind and compassionate. The best parts in this book were the happier times for Sayre and her mom when they almost had their perfect family and then of course tragedy follows. Laura Wiess is a genius and she either did some major research or she wrote this off of experience. My husbands mother was very similar to the way Sayre describes her mother and this story. He also had to deal with a mother's addictions and this story hit my heart hard. This book is one I will truly never forget. It grabs you deep inside and feels you with sadness and joy, it makes you take a step back and really re-evaluate your own life. Now how many books can you say have done that.

  • Tez
    2019-06-22 07:54

    When she walked out on her mum, why did Sayre go to live with Harlow Maltese? Why would he let her live with him? Why didn't Sayre just look for Beale? (Probably because the novel would be a lot shorter if she had.)(view spoiler)[I really did like the book, but I just found it...convenient that Beale wanted Sayre to be part of his new family, and he'd saved up $6000 for her, so she can afford to live in the house next door...I don't know. It just didn't feel real, knowing that most addicts' children wouldn't be lucky enough to have people to love them or $6000 saved up for them. (hide spoiler)]

  • Jessie Marie
    2019-05-30 10:56

    Oh this book. My heart is broken, but I'm strangely at peace about it.

  • Mandee Jablonski
    2019-06-27 14:59

    So full of heartbreak, strength, & loss. A beautifully crafted story that is, unfortunately, far too real for so many. Laura Wiess is amazing.

  • Deria Agggraini
    2019-06-14 07:56

    I don't think there is something wrong about this book. The writing style, the plot, the characters, they are fine. Everything's good. It's just that from the beginning I expected I would cry my heart out when I read this book, but I just didn't at all. I know the story is sad and there are moments where I thought 'God, this is so sad, so messed up' but it didn't rip my heart apart till I cry. I just didn't feel really connected to the story.

  • Sandra
    2019-06-19 11:05

    You can add this to the list of books I never would have read if it weren't for my book club, mainly because I'd never even heard of it until I learned it was our September selection. Why hadn't I heard of this book, especially when it seems books that will make you weep (TFiOS, anyone?) are becoming more and more popular? But the plot description appealed to me so I wasn't sorry to pick it up and read it. Sayre was unplanned and unwanted and her mother never hesitated to share that with her. Growing up with a drug and alcohol addicted mother was hard, but now, just two weeks after having left her, Sayre is told her mother is on her death bed at the hospital - liver failure and this time she won't be leaving the hospital alive. It's a stormy winter night when Sayre tries to get to her mother's bedside, and along the way she can't help but remember what it was liking growing up not knowing whether or not her mother loved her.Ordinary Beauty is told through two different story lines with the same point of view. The first is what's going with Sayre right now - her mother is dying in a hospital bed and she's trying to get there before it's too late. The second is a series of flashbacks of Sayre's life, from when she was a toddler through now, and everything that happened in between; different homes, different people in her life, different emotions. The time shifts of the narrative really added to what Sayre was experiencing. The flashbacks occurred at exactly the right time and helped us understand what Sayre was feeling in that moment.And you would think that growing up having lost several loved ones and having to spend most of your time with a drugged out mother who doesn't give a shit about you would give you an unbreakable sense of depression, that you would succumb and become like her, that all your memories of your childhood would be black and terrible and not worth remembering. But I was surprised to see that not all of Sayre's flashbacks are bad. There are times in her life that she was truly happy and that made me smile.Of course, there were those times when things were horrible. Ordinary Beauty was heart wrenching. It was very difficult to watch a lovely, smart little girl have to live like she did. I grew up sheltered, I mean I'm not stupid, I know these things go on, but to see it in such a personal way was heartbreaking to me. Me, the gal who never sheds a tear at books (but readily will at jewelry commercials) teared up a little. Ordinary Beauty is a unique wave of emotions, it gets harder and harder to read as you go on, but you can't put it down. Four stars! Don't let the sad topic of the book keep you from reading Ordinary Beauty. It's ultimately a beautiful story of hope and understanding. Why this book doesn't even have three hundred ratings on Goodreads is beyond me, and I hope I have convinced some of you to seriously give it a look....more YA reviews at

  • Rabiah
    2019-05-27 12:00

    Originally Posted at:**This Review is based on an ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy). The final text/cover may be different.**Wow. Just...WOW.I've heard of Laura Wiess' other book Such a Pretty Girl but never any other book by her. I have to repeat myself. W-O-W. This book was so richly detailed and horrifyingly beautiful. It's so painful to read, but I HAD to find out what happens to Sayre in the end– and the ultimate question: did her mother ever really love her? Through flashbacks and a journey to the hospital comes the story of her childhood and all the secrets, lies and abuse.This book touched several delicate topics, the biggest is the one which lands Sayre's mom in the hospital: drug and alcohol addiction. It's pretty scary to see what Sayre has been through since she was a small girl and how it torments her to this day forth. Every chapter alternates from present to past and back to present, as she makes her way to the hospital. I found it a little slow in the beginning, but I was SO glad I didn't stop reading!Sayre's character shows a strong, independent girl who just wants love, which she never received her whole life. She had to deal with her mom and her mom's horrible best friend (who ACTUALLY tried to kill her!), moving around, child abuse, being exploited to drugs and alcohol and trying to find a way to fit in and go with it. I feel so sad for her! She's such a brilliant character who shows the realistic side to life and what it's really like for someone who's been pushed around by family and never loved.There are a few happy moments for our heroine in this book a few times, like the foster family, when her mom meets someone which Sayre actually likes and stuff like that, but then things don't always turn out to be like that. I love how there's the constant theme of hope throughout the novel, and that we can't give up on her story, and need to hear it out. It's really sad how those who show affection to Sayre end up going away in the end. This girl sees no end to the misery! :(I really find that Ordinary Beauty looks at the hardships of teens in broken homes (ie. the product of Teen Pregnancy) very effective, as it brings more personal tones to readers and what really happens out there in this big world. Every character really adds up to the setting and mood of the story (HATE HATE HATE the mom) and it's just so dreadful how it can all actually happen.Ordinary Beauty is a story for those who've suffered through alcoholic family members, substance abuse, child abuse, and any other sort of pain. Realistically terrifying and sparklingly hopeful, Laura Wiess is DEFINITELY an author I would love to read more of.

  • Claudia
    2019-06-20 06:58

    When I saw this book by Laura Wiess on Simon & Schuster's newsletter, I had the feeling I'd already heard the author's name and, after a rapid search on Goodreads, I found out I had all her books on my TBR shelf. So how could I possibly miss the chance?Then I started worring that I wouldn't like it or that my expectations were so high that I would inevitably be disappointed, and I put this book on hold until I was in the right mood.A week ago, I picked my kindle up and decided that I didn't care and that I really wanted to find out on my own if Ms Wiess's writing is as good as the reviewers say she is.A couple of days ago, I got my answer: she is.Ordinary Beauty was one of the most beautiful and painful books I've ever read, one that made me cry and smile on different occasions. Ordinary Beauty felt so unmistakably real that I couldn't help but think of all the people who find themselves in Sayre's (or her mother's, or any of the other characters') situation in real life and of the strength it takes them to go on with their life, constantly trying to make it better and always afraid to be deprived of what little happiness they've found along the way.This book was an endless emotional roller coaster and the author's ability with words was at its best through the pages of this novel. I didn't know what to think nor expect, my emotions were so messed up that I felt like throwing up or crying shamelessly all the time.Ordinary Beauty is certainly not a light read, nor an easy one, and it makes you feel so selfish and so damn lucky because of all the things you've always taken for granted and that for a lot of people aren't. It makes you wonder how a mother could possibly act the way Sayre's does, and how a single human being can suffer so much pain and live through it and become such a wonderful person, no matter the scars and the memories he has to bear everyday.Sayre's simple yet powerful feeling, her sad and unfortunate story, her constant need for love were so raw, and real, and definite that they left a mark on me, and I think they will on the other readers as well.I can't give much away, so I'll just say that Sayre's adventures will capture you from the beginning and that her story will be such a wonderful one that you'll have to agree with me when I say that Ordinary Beauty is one of the best contemporary young-adult novel out there.I can only express my gratitude toward Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read such an amazing book and review it for them.

  • Joli
    2019-06-24 13:57

    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.

  • Stephanie A.
    2019-06-22 09:18

    I initially read this largely because the cover model looked so much like Natalie Portman. It was so slow to start that I had to keep checking whether it was YA or an adult novel, but right around the time she finds Evan, it picked up spectacularly (injury/rescue = no faster way to zipline to my heart, even if he hadn't sounded generally adorable). I became equally absorbed in both the story of her past and the present-day action. I still thought the present-day scenes with her mother dragged a bit, but the backstory made me cry no fewer than 3 times.I felt every inch of the bleakness and despair and loneliness that comes from being unloved, abused and neglected by your only remaining family member. The fact that she remains a beacon of sunshine and light (or, the child every pregnant teen who decides to keep her baby should dream of having) instead of turning into inexplicable trash like her mother - who was hopeless from childhood, nothing but a bored and spoiled brat so no sympathy ever - is what makes it worth reading. Reading about the few brief flashes of warmth and care in her life were partly wonderful (bonus point score #2: stepfather/stepdaughter bonds), and partly agonizing, as every time you had to crash back into harsh and ugly reality.I don't know about you, but I ached to scoop her up protectively, take her away from all the bad things in life and give her everything in the world for making it this far. As for the end: (view spoiler)[Apparently the author did too, because even before the epilogue, I was practically kissing the book in gratitude for letting it all work out. The 5-month flash forward was just icing. (hide spoiler)]

  • Sarah (Workaday Reads)
    2019-06-05 08:55

    Sayre Bellevia's mother is an alcoholic and a meth addict. Living with her has been excruciatingly difficult, and not just because Sayre knows her mother never wanted her. Sayre has stuck by her though, trying to make her mother see and love her. Now Sayre's mother is dying, and she must find a way to deal with the fact that she is finally going to be left behind for good.Heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking. After finishing this book, that's all I could think of to describe it. Even after waiting a few days, that's still all I can think of to describe it.No one should have to go through what Sayre went through. No one should wonder whether their mother loves them and treats them the way Sayre is treated. Sayre is an amazingly strong character. She has survived a lot more than anyone should experience. I really wanted her to find a happy ending for herself. If anyone deserves it, it's her.This book made me cry multiple times. Not just a tear, but real crying. At some spots I had to put it down, walk away, and go find my son just to give him a hug and tell him I love you. If you are looking for a powerfully emotional read, this is it. Just be warned that you will need a box of tissues, or two.

  • Taylor
    2019-06-20 08:23

    This is 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 things Sayre experiences, I would never wish for anyone. To say that this was a difficult, tough story to read is an understatement. The emotional struggles Sayre tells the reader throughout Ordinary Beauty left my stomach in knots. You witness every painful experience vividly as if it is happening to you. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but I will say this: If you looked up the word “fighter” in the dictionary, you should find a picture of Sayre, who is determined to not only survive, but succeed despite what her mother puts her through. She is in incredible, one-of-a-kind role model anybody, no matter their age, can look up to. Sayre breaks all of her boundaries and prooves to the world that no matter what you have been through, no matter how dark that tunnel is, there is always light to be found at the end.

  • MissLoveReadingBooks
    2019-05-31 13:04

    I tried reading this book but it was not a page turner like Such a Pretty Girl or Leftovers.I picked up the book but found myself sitting it right back on my night stand. I tried hard to get into the book but my mind kept wondering off. First off, there are too many characters to keep up with, I had to keep going back flipping pages asking "Who is Candy again?" then flipping back wondering "Who is Harlow?" Then it kept switching from present time to pass time. I just couldn't focus. Sorry Laura Wiess but this book isn't as good as the others. I'm going to try to read How it Ends hopefully it will keep my attention.

  • Runa
    2019-06-09 12:06

    It was slow going there at first, but as you keep reading, the pieces of the story start to fall together and create something beautiful. Plus, I'm always an advocate for resilience lit, and always there to recognize stories that acknowledge that mothers can and sometimes do genuinely dislike and abuse their children. Sick of the cultural narrative that mothers are loving by default, somehow wired to adore their child, enabling cycles of children stuck in abusive, invalidating environments.

  • Amanda
    2019-06-26 07:19

    Absolutely loved this. I got totally sucked into the story and was emotionally invested in all of the characters. Laura Wiess is a very talented author and has a way of sucking you into these devastating scenarios whether you're ready or not. I may even enjoy this more than Such a Pretty Girl. Beautiful.

  • Donna (Jaevenstar)
    2019-05-31 12:09

    I really really liked this book! It took me on a journey that was full of ups and downs and extreme emotions. I don't want to talk about what I didn't like about it only because it will give away a major spoiler. But overall a really awesome book. If I could give it a 4.5 I would.

  • Shannon
    2019-06-26 11:57

    Heart-wrenchingly beautiful story. I sobbed while feeling an overwhelming sense of what some people have the strength to overcome.

  • Smash
    2019-05-29 11:16

    Courtesy of Smash Attack ReadsInterest in Book: It's obvious that this is not a book I would normally read. I am glad that my book club chose it for September's read, as it was emotional and affected me deeply. Sayre, a teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood, recounts her extremely difficult life in Podunk Town, USA, as her mother lies dying in the hospital from an extreme life of her own.My Thoughts: This book was intense in a way that makes your heart hurt and your head spin as the horrific reality of Sayre's situation permeate your bones. The setting is impoverished and stark, the existence of the characters painful, traumatic, bleak. Watching another person experience such abuse, neglect and trauma is difficult to swallow. While this is fiction, it is every day reality for many children. Sayre's experience may resonate with some readers who have experienced such trauma, or know someone who has. I'd say that a good many of us can relate in some form or another.The book flips from present day (roughly 24 hour time frame minus last chapter) to flashbacks of Sayre's life. I really enjoy books that do this, but some indication of time would have been helpful. It's obvious that she continues to age throughout the flashbacks, but it would have been nice to have dates. Sayre is a good narrator. She picks up on interesting details, and it progresses as she grows to show moving from concrete to abstract thinking.Sayre's mother is a beast of a character. A very sick individual who turns to drugs, alcohol and men to numb the pain of her failures and could-have-beens. I assume she blames Sayre for everything wrong in her life. Her mother's actions towards Sayre were vile and horrible beyond words. I think when she looks at Sayre, she sees all the things she hates about her own self. It's not easy to accept your own character flaws. Her mother's best friend, Candy, was just as vile and her treatment of Sayre just as disgusting. I sometimes wonder if Candy was a huge influence on mom's downward spiral to Hell, or if she would have ended up the same without her.Sayre's compassion for others, despite her environment and experience with people, was awe-inspiring. We first meet her as she's walking home from her waitress job in ugly, snowy conditions. She's got dinner in her hands, leftovers from the diner. Growing up never knowing when the next meal would be, she still feeds a bobcat on the way home, and a small kitten she has been caring for under the trailer. Her first encounter with Evan, a boy in town, culminates in a life-threatening moment for him. She stays with him until help arrives. There are little snippets like these that really drive home the reality that Sayre is definitely different from her mother.The most interesting aspect of this book was when Sayre finally makes it to the hospital to visit her mother. Even though she feels extremely negative emotions towards her, she bargains and remains in denial that her mother's life is coming to an end. She questions how deep the bond goes between a mother and her child.And maybe love is terrifying. I'm terrified now, but not in the way she would think.I'm terrified because I hate who she is and what she's done, I do, and yet there is still something strong and powerful between us, some kind of deep, primal bond that won't end, won't snap or break or change, it just remains there inside me, as solid and factual as my blood and bones - she is my mother, I am her daughter - and I don't know what to call it because it doesn't feel like love, not the good kind I felt for Ellie, with all my heart, but instead an instinctual pull that's been there from the beginning, drawing me back to her again and again, the woman who has hurt me like no one else ever could, and now she's dying and the bond is still here, inside me, and I won't call it love or hate because emotions has nothing to do with the fact that she is my mother and I am her daughter, and we will be connected in that way forever.This scene is one that stuck with me. As a social worker, I often hear people baffled over the fact that many children take the abuse given to them by parents, that they don't speak up and flee for safety. As an adult, it's so very hard to put yourself in a child's shoes. I think it's difficult for people to understand that at the end of the day, after the screaming, cursing and violence, that the child remains because that is their parent. Children want to please people, especially their parents, and they are also egocentric and feel like every single problem that rains down on their head is their own fault. Therefore, they do not want to cause more trouble for their parents than they already perceive they are doing. When love and affection is doled out, it only adds to the confusion, as the child wonders what exactly love is. That of course adds to the violent cycle that many families are trapped in. Sayre sums it up  here:If she'd said she loved me and still did all those cruel and careless things, would my child mind have decided to accept that as the definition of love?Probably.Would I have ended up believing that love was manipulative and hurtful and full of pain, gotten use to being shoved aside, sworn at and disregarded, picked up and hugged, and then slapped around for getting in the way, starved and smiled at, neglected and cursed, told I was no good and would never amount to anything, then hefted high and proudly shown off down at the Walmart, introduced as a little pisser and a big mistake in the same breath?Yes, I would have, because if she said she loved me and then acted that way I would have thought that was how you loved someone, and how someone should love you back.During book club, people stated that Sayre was too normal, too "together" to have come from such trauma. They needed to see something broken in her to make it more realistic. While I agree that Sayre came out of her situation a little too "healthy", I also truly believe in resiliency. Studies have shown that having one caring, responsible adult in a child's life can make all the difference. This evidence is why mentoring programs are popular and receive funding. In my mind, Sayre had a few of these adults scattered throughout her life. Her grandmother, Ms. Mo, Beale and his mother. People I think the reader should experience rather than me telling you about them here. Because of these characters, Sayre experienced sprinkles of hope, love and compassion. These moments may have been enough...Of course, if the author were to write a follow-up novel, I expect some borderline personality traits, therapy, anxiety issues...something.  ;)Lasting Impressions: It's obvious I have many thoughts about this book. If you made it through all of them, you deserve a cookie! I could no doubt talk about it in-depth for hours, but I will sum it up here: There are moments of joy and utter heartbreak. You may smile, cry, scream, gasp, laugh, sigh. Gut-wrenching sob fest. You may question the ability of people to continue on in such dire environments. You may be inspired by Sayre's perseverance and sheer will to survive and overcome. I was.

  • Myreadbooks
    2019-06-24 10:09

    Sur la couverture, on y voit Sayre le visage à moitié visible. J'ai aimé ce livre mais sans plus a part le personnage de Sayre attachant. L'histoire nous raconte la vie d'une jeune adulte Sayre Bellavia. Dès le début on aprend que sa mère Dianne est à l'hôpital. Sayre à vécu toute sa jeunesse avec une mère alcoolique et droguée, le petit ami de sa mère a chercher à la tuer, sa mère est arrêtée mais relachée. Elle va apprendre que celle ci est à l'hôpital en fin de vie à cause d'une insuffisance hépatique, elle va chercher à savoir si elle à été aimée ou pas par celle-ci. On the cover, we see Sayre half visible face. I liked this book but no more apart from the Sayre endearing character. History tells us the life of a young adult Sayre Bellavia. From the beginning we Aprende her mother Dianne is at the hospital. Sayre lived his youth with a mother on drugs and alcohol, his mother's boyfriend was trying to kill her, her mother was arrested but released. She will learn that this one is in the hospital at the end of life because of liver failure, she'll find out if she loved summer or not by this one.

  • Ange Hawkins
    2019-06-04 10:16

    Love LOVE LOVED this book!! Have read it multiple times!! Fantastic!

  • Lauren Brittain
    2019-06-21 09:01

    This review is also available at booksthatsmolder.blogspot.comRATING: ★★★★SUMMARY: 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?-Summary courtesy of GoodreadsREVIEW:Laura Wiess is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She captured my heart in Such a Pretty Girl with its vivid imagery, strong female lead, and gritty theme and she did it again with Ordinary Beauty.Originally I was worried that the protagonist, Sayre, would be exactly like Meredith from Such a Pretty Girl but in the end the premise of both books were just so different that it never seemed that way. Yes, they were similar. Each book centered on a child that had been physically and emotionally hurt by an unstable and crazy parent. But Such a Pretty Girl centered more on defeating the parent where as Ordinary Beauty focused more on understanding and accepting the past. Another difference was that Meredith was, for the most part, a static character. In the beginning she was determined to put her father back in jail, despite still being afraid, and in the end she kept her determined attitude but was no longer afraid. Sayre, however, changed a lot. She went from hating her mother for never helping either of them in life to accepting the life she was given and changing it for the better. Besides, even if they had been similar, it wouldn’t have mattered that much because I quickly became distracted by Wiess’s gorgeous language.Another quality that I adore about Wiess is her world-building. Usually you would only see a word like “world-building” in science fiction or fantasy novels, but this trait is definitely evident in all of Wiess’s books as well. The two I read both had a large cast of characters, and each person had a past and a relevance to the story. I love books with lots of characters, at least the ones done well. This is probably because I enjoy creating multiple side-characters in my own writing. You can do almost anything with them. They are everything the protagonist isn’t allowed to be (un-relatable is the big character trait I’m talking about here) and that’s extremely fun to play with.There were a lot of characters that I hated in this book, though. And I don’t mean, I hated them because they were badly developed and sucked, I mean that some of the people in this novel were so terrible it made me want to hit them REALLY HARD. For example, Candy Fee, Dianne’s (Sayre’s mother) best friend. The woman that made sure to drag her down, the person that was always there to say “HEY! We’re doing drugs and being idiots, so you should come.” I despise people like this, who are so pathetic they feel the need to make other people be pathetic with them. Yes, Candy did stay with Dianne until the very end but she’s also the one that gave her a lot of the drugs that killed her. What a great friend, huh? This proves that Laura Wiess is once again, a wonderful writer for creating villains so realistic I had issues not screaming at them out loud.Overall Ordinary Beauty was a great book. I didn’t like it as much as Such a Pretty girl but it still had all the elements that really draw me into a novel, although I do wish that the romance would have developed a little more. That’s just me being an old sap though. I liked that by the time I reached the last page I actually began to sympathize for Sayre’s mother. That doesn’t mean I stopped hating her and all the things she’d done but I did see that it was necessary for Sayre to forgive Dianne in order for her to be able to move on with her life.P.S. I almost forget to mention that I’m very jealous of the way that Laura Wiess begins and ends her chapters and books. It’s a small thing but it’s a great quality to have and it certainly stood out.