Be proud…Beautiful One
BY MARY COPE
Summary: Elizabeth Ryan is a beautiful, shy, naïve high school senior. Having never dated she meets the boy of her dreams, Aidan Mitchell. Despite his history of womanizing Liz is drawn to him. Soon Liz becomes the envy of all the girls on campus, when they become a couple and her dream boyfriend sweeps her off her feet and into the dating world that is all too new and strange for her. When other guys start to take notice of Liz, Aidan is troubled with fits of jealousy. Elizabeth then meets the ruggedly handsome Spencer Hayes and they quickly bond over their passion for music. Liz begins to struggle with the feelings that spark between them. In the end Elizabeth finds herself torn between helping Aidan overcome his jealousy and anger and giving into what her heart truly wants.
Beautiful One, the début novel from Mary Cope, is a timeless story of a young woman on the brink of adulthood who finds herself on a path of self-discovery. The first in a planned trilogy centered on young women struggling with their self-image, Beautiful One is complete with more than one coming of age story and the bittersweet experience of first love.
Elizabeth “Liz” Ryan is an overweight wallflower and rising high school senior when we first meet her. Her twin, Mason, is her opposite in almost every way: lead singer in a popular local band, Random Plan, handsome, popular, and half of the “it” couple at their high school. Despite their differences, Liz and Mason are unexpectedly close and part of a solid, loving family. The twins are members of their church’s band, the one place that Liz feels comfortable in shaking off her self-image issues and sharing her beautiful singing voice, despite her need to hide behind her piano.
An embarrassing encounter with Random Plan’s new bassist, Aidan Mitchell, tips the scales for Liz, leading her to lose the weight that is at the core of her low self-esteem. She starts an enthusiastic and successful campaign to change her unhealthy lifestyle and a request for tutoring puts her firmly on Aidan’s radar. Despite Aidan’s well-deserved womanizing reputation, a newly svelte Liz agrees to a date, and eventually a relationship with the sexy, blonde, and blue-eyed musician as both find themselves experiencing love for the first time.
As things change for Liz two seemingly insignificant things happen: she takes a spill while out running and finds herself saved by a mysterious stranger and Liz and Mason gain a new band leader at church, Spencer Hayes.
As Spencer spends more time working with the church group he recognizes Liz’s musical talent, coaxing the spotlight-shy young woman from behind her piano, giving her the courage to share her music with the world. As her confidence grows, the reader witnesses Liz’s journey as she learns to love herself, inside and out.
I enjoyed reading Beautiful One as it has many of the elements readers have come to expect from a YA novel. Mary Cope creates a fairly diverse cast of characters to support Liz’s story including Mason’s girlfriend and Liz’s best friend, Melissa, a young woman that’s down to earth, sure of herself, and a dedicated friend. Spencer is a young man of quiet strength who has overcome tragedy and loss. It’s Aidan, though, that is the story’s most complex character and, though this is Liz’s story of self-discovery, he is the one that struggles the most to find himself.
As much as there is to like about Beautiful One, Cope struggles at times to find her footing. She writes believable teenagers, including Liz’s boy crazy tendencies and the typical speech patterns you’d find from teens on the brink of adulthood, but there are many unnecessary scenes, which affect the story’s pacing. There were moments that Cope teetered into cliché territory, but she seemed to always bounce back with a nice touch of originality. My biggest disappointment with Beautiful One was the lack of detail showcasing Liz’s weight loss. Yes, there are many passages of Liz running, but they were more of a plot device then a lesson on healthy weight loss. Seeing Liz struggle to make changes would let Cope’s young readers know that losing weight/getting healthy takes time and in the end is something you have to do for yourself and not to catch a boy’s eye.
*I received this book in exchange for an honest review*