Thanks go to BiblioBuffet for sending me this book! Honestly, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy once I heard it was a modern-day Beauty & the Beast retelling. Then I saw the cover. *clears throat* That's one good cover. Reminds me of another cover I'm rather fond of. In fact, reading and finishing this book prompted an immediate re-read of Perfect Chemistry. The two actually have a fair bit in common, though they are very different in style and length. There was a lot of hype around the blogosphere surrounding Crazy Beautiful and I found myself anxious to see if it lived up to my expectations. This was also my first novel by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and I was very much looking forward to both a new author and a fresh take on one of my very favorite old tales.
My arm rises toward my face and the pincer touch of cold steel rubs against my jaw.I chose hooks because they were cheaper.I chose hooks because I wouldn't outgrow them so quickly.I chose hooks so that everyone would know I was different, so I would scare even myself.
Lucius is starting at a new school. He is unenthused, to put it mildly. Recently he, his parents, and his little sister relocated to a new home and a new town in an attempt to rid themselves of the taint of what happened to Lucius last year. Where he used to be plain Lucius Wolfe, now he's that crazy boy with hooks for hands. And he likes to live up to the reputation. It's clear from the word go that he's working pretty hard at not examining his life too clearly. It's just not exactly clear why. Aurora is also starting at a new school. The same school, as fate would have it. She and her father are trying to get back into the groove of their lives now that her mother is gone and the two of them are all each other's got. Where she used to be beautiful, popular Aurora Belle, now she's that new girl whose dad is the school librarian. Lucius and Aurora inadvertently make eye contact on the school bus one morning and a connection is forged, whether they know it yet or not.
My first reflection upon finishing this book is how much I loved the title. I love how it captures the way these two characters are perceived by the outside world, which is in direct contrast to the insight the reader gets about who they really are under the surface. Told in alternating point of view chapters, we get to experience firsthand Lucius' awkward blend of defiance and resignation when faced with all the rumors and insinuations about his mental status and the state of his missing hands. We get to be in the room with Aurora as she puts on a good face for her grieving, desperately hopeful dad, while achingly unsure whether or not she can get through another day pretending to be fine. Most of all, as is true with all good Beauty & the Beast retellings, we get to watch as two people in need find each other and see beyond the superficial to find that they are able to fill the cracks left by their past. Crazy Beautiful is such a brief story. Weighing in at a featherweight 208 pages, I was worried I would emerge at the other end wishing for more, feeling like I only just got a taste of these two. I'm happy to say I didn't feel that way at all. On the contrary it felt like a perfectly natural glimpse into an ongoing story. There was a lot of crap that came before Lucius and Aurora encountered one another on the bus and, in the same vein, their story continues on beyond the final pages of the book. The lovely writing lent this modern high school story just the right hint of fairy tale splendor. I may be a sucker for this particular tale, but I thought Ms. Baratz-Logsted pulled it off beautifully. I read it in one sitting and it was exactly the sweet, funny, and moving read I hoped it would be.