I read this one back in June, but I never posted my review here. It’s on the Mock Printz list this year, and I’m pleased as punch.

North of Beautiful North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
I’m almost tempted to make this a 5 star book because it seems like such a perfect example of what a YA novel should be. It’s thoughtful, but never slow. The characters feel real, growing and changing in believable ways. The setting always serves the story, whether it’s small-town Washington or big-city China. It deals with race and family and adoption and mistakes and physical appearance and growing up and art and emotional abuse and all kinds of other topics in a way that doesn’t feel preachy or after-school-movie-of-the-week or like too many issues were crammed into one story. I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes strong contemporary YA stories. Okay, I talked myself into 5 stars – not because it’s my favorite book ever, but because it does what it’s trying to do so well.

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