Author: Jamie McGuire
Publication: August 14, 2012
Genre: Young Adult/Adult
Publisher: Atria Books
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
What can I say that has not already been said about this New York Times Bestseller? McGuire self-published this book in May 2011 and in approximately one year and a few months, it was picked up by Atria Books and re-published under a different cover in August 2012. Beautiful Disaster had already reached success as a self-published title and for good reason. It’s an incredibly well written contemporary work of fiction. Although I would not necessarily classify it as YA, it does teeter back and forth between YA and adult fiction. The main character is Abby, a 19-year old college student who, although incredibly bright and sharp with her tongue, still has a teenage ‘voice’ and seems to make terrible decisions. The other characters in the book are equally young in voice, which is appropriate. Each character was carefully crafted and it was entertaining to follow them through the Beautiful Disaster journey. I found that perhaps the author was either employing symbolism or some other type of representative approach to the character names in the book. For instance, the only to two average names in the story were those of the two main characters and those who were involved in the love interest, Abby and Travis. Abby’s best friend was America, America’s boyfriend was Shepley, Abby’s gay friend was Finch, and a mutual friend of everyone was Brazil. Those are an odd mix of names!
Although the love story was a complete and utter mess, as sometimes they can be, I found the ending to be just a little too neat and tidy for my taste. I felt as though Abby would not have really gone that route, although Travis obviously would. I won’t say more about this because I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone, BUT I did find the ending slightly disappointing and expected something more grandiose or dramatic, keeping with the theme of the entire book. One thing that I felt was a little over-the-top and not realistic was Travis’ obsession with Abby. Yes, young men can become obsessive about their girlfriends, but Travis exemplified one of the most obsessive and unhealthy cases of ‘psycho boyfriend’ symptom I’ve ever read about or have witnessed in real life. With that said, the book was still great and I recommend it to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction with some sex, lots of violence, and tons of unhealthy obsession.
My favorite passage
“I had fought my feelings, guarded them, and bottled them up. I had experienced the happiest moments of my life while at Eastern, all of them with Travis. Fighting, laughing, loving or crying, if it was with him, I was where I wanted to be.”
- Page 228