Published by Leddy Harper on April 28th, 2016
Genres: Military, Second Chance Romance
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One introverted girl.One extroverted guy.One assignment.One afternoon. Then everything changed…
“You destroyed me.”
Novah wanted nothing more than to walk away, never see him again. She was determined to pick up the pieces of her tarnished reputation and move on. Her torture became her muse, earning her well-deserved notoriety for capturing beauty with her lens. She had come full circle. She had it all…until he returned.
Nolan found himself surrounded by the grim facets of life, no longer the prominent boy from an affluent family who’d caught Novah’s eye. The years had been unkind and left him in the dark, painful trenches of life. He needed her help.
Fifteen years can equate to a lifetime of change, neither one the same person they once were. Despite the humiliation, the latent wounds, the missing years…they’re destined to heal one another in unexpected ways.
“You saved me.”
I tend to read a lot of books. I tend to read through even more synopsis’, look at covers, author bios, etc. What I’m trying to get across is I usually have a lot of book thoughts going through my head at any time, but even from the beginning Beautiful Boy stood out. I immediately wanted this and after reading the synopsis I knew I had to have it. It sounded intriguing and with a promise of angst, I was sold. I can’t for sure say what exactly I was expecting when I started this book, but this was definitely not it. Any thought or idea I could’ve possibly had was blown out of the water. Beautiful Boy sneaks up on you and demands your full attention.
There were some extremely important concepts we experienced in Beautiful Boy but the most powerful definitely has to be to never lose hope. How the characters struggle with this broke my heart in half and was mostly what caused my tears. I won’t lie to you, at times it was hard to read but so, so worth it.
“Dizzying visualizations danced before my eyes as I tried to image what he’d been through, but all I could picture was a lost soldier, alone, with nothing but the innocent love of a girl left behind.”
“It was about this amazing girl who had caught the eye of a hopeless boy. She saw something in him he couldn’t even see in himself.”
I feel like some people might try to classify this as instalove but I want to immediately disagree. First off, you need to finish the entire thing before you can try to make these assumptions. There’s different layers of their relationship that unfolded after high school, while they were apart and then when they reconnected. There’s a lot of different aspects to take in, and a really important one being how you can hold on to a certain person or a certain feeling, especially if left unresolved. These two were meant for each other, it just took some time and a long bumpy road to see it.
“You’re the only woman I see, Novah. When you’re around, everyone else simply disappears.”
“Just me?” Her whispered voice shook, matching the quiver in her bottom lip.
“Only you.” I moved to her, grabbed her fingers, and laced them with mine. “Stop thinking you don’t mean as much to me as I do to you. If anything…you mean more to me.” So much more. “I took these pictures before you wrote that text or showed it to me. And it’s all the proof you need to know I’m telling the truth. It’s always been you, Novah. Always. You. Only you.”
Her gaze fell away, but I quickly brought our entwined fingers to her chin and lifted it, forcing her to lock eyes once more with mine. “And it’ll always be only you.”
No one can get through life alone, that’s not how we’re designed. When faced with issues, yes those that we love will be around to support and help us through, but the change has to come from within. Just like any decision in your life, you won’t change unless you decide to. Unless you have a reason, a desire, a hope to do or be better. This struggle for Nolan was unbearable at times but I’m quite happy with how Leddy dealt with this issue and how she turned it around towards a conclusion.
“I became faced with two options: let her go, or allow her in. If I did the latter, I could chance ruining her. By allowing her the opportunity to find the person she sought inside, I could end up revealing the ugliness trapped within, and she might not ever be the same again.
However, if I chose to let her go, I’d lose any possibility of ever making it out of this dark hole in one piece. She held the ability to become my salvation, but I could very well be her demise.”
Perception of yourself vs the perception of how others see you can be two very different things, an idea that’s described in depth. How can you possibly change someone’s mind? How can you fight what they see of themselves, to try and change it into the goodness or beauty that you can see? This was extremely difficult and also goes back to the lack of self worth, and self deprecation that our hero displays. I can’t imagine what he went through, nor will I even pretend to. *These issues hit close to home and are so genuine, I’m just accepting and talking about them like it happened in life and I was a bystander*. Nolan’s disgust with himself was always present and Novah had one hell of a challenge trying to get him out of his own head.
The man in front of me, the one turning over the dining room table and chairs, knocking pots and pans over and spilling its contents onto the floor, was so broken. Beyond shattered. And no matter how much I wanted to save him, I finally realized I might not be able to.
“Is this better? You want to see what it’s like in my head? Inside me? Well, sweetheart, here it is. Messy. Disheveled. Upturned. This is what it’s like in here!” He pounded on the side of his head with the heel of his palm, and hot, scorching tears filled my eyes.
I loved the photography aspect and how it was used in both the detriment and the healing of both Novah and Nolan. The arts can hurt, the arts can heal, the arts can show your emotions and the arts can help lead you back home. The reader experiences this all as both main characters try to complete the journey back to each other.
“Take my picture,” he whispered in my ear from behind. “If you think I’m so repulsive, take my picture. Find my beauty.”
I’m going to suggest a song that I think goes really well with this book, but I will warn you ahead of time it’s punk and there is indeed some screaming. Or screamo, I guess whatever you want to call it. I focused more so in the actually lyrics and the journey that the song took in relation to the hero in this story, Nolan. Then listening back in the emotion, it feels fairly fitting as well. For the sake of not posting the entire song, I’ve chosen the two most powerful verses. Even the difference in these is astonishing, just as it was with Nolan. For the whole song, search Deceivers by I Prevail.
I was so wrong to believe all of you,
Every time I open my eyes,
I see the darkness come through.
If that’s what’s left of me, to live my life aimlessly.
I’ll search for a light, a way to fight, until the world,
Collapses on me.
Is this it?
Have I spent, a lifetime of regret.
Not knowing, what I want.
Giving up all of my thoughts,
But I’ve changed, who I am.
I’ll start over again.
Change my ways, change my life,
I am finally alive.
I don’t know how to get across how real these emotions were. They choked me, I cried, I broke, I felt so incredibly helpless just sitting here reading. But the biggest thing? There are people in this world that struggle with the same issues, that fight these same battles, and I’m sitting here in my own little world, generally oblivious. This is the type of story that can change your views on past experiences, behaviours and change your perceptions on future events. It can truly open your eyes to a more sensitive topic. Nolan was so incredibly broken. He held so much despair and everything about him exuded desperation. He was filled to the brim with self hatred and had absolutely zero self worth. From what I could tell, he had some depression, perhaps some PTSD and had lost everything he once thought he lived for. He lost his identity, his purpose. I’ve never experienced a character like Nolan, but his story is so incredibly important for others to experience.
I needed her, and the reasons were endless.
Because with her, I felt no pain.
Because with her, I wasn’t in the dark.
Because with her, I wasn’t…me.
I wasn’t empty and alone. I wasn’t worthless or insignificant. I wasn’t dying. She filled me with something. Light, love, happiness…I couldn’t identify it. She gave me purpose, even for a brief moment of time. She made me feel…alive.
Because with her…I was somebody.
I don’t have the right words to describe Beautiful Boy and how much Leddy’s writing has touched me. It’s beyond eloquent. It’s raw, breathtaking and all consuming. A true diamond in the rough in today’s world of romance. It’s poignant, powerful, and I truly applaud Ms. Harper for not shying away from this topic and these issues. I’m still in awe, and as I type this I still have tears in my eyes. There were a few scenes that hit me like a Mack truck and I still haven’t recovered. Make sure to keep some tissues nearby!
“You…you’re the one who fought. You’re the one who survived. You’re the one I love. The bad, the good, the ugly. The beautiful. Every fucking bit.”
I seem to have a very fickle relationship with epilogues, so know that this is solely my opinion. Personally it felt maybe a little forced. I get that the point is to show how things progress for the main characters down the line, but it was so neat and tidy and all American that I scoffed a little. I was (again, solely my opinion) more than content with how everything ended before the epilogue. I loved it, I had tears in my eyes, my heart swelled with pride and I fell even more in love with this story. But then other than one moment involving superheroes, I was taken out of that feeling, I was being told to feel something else for Nolan and Novah. Overall this would seem to be my only criticism, and I don’t even feel right calling it that, because I’m sure most people will love it, I just didn’t find it to be necessary.
“From the very first time I ever laid eyes on you, you’ve owned my heart and soul. You saved me when I couldn’t save myself. You saw me when I thought of myself as invisible. You found value in me when I felt worthless. When I didn’t have the strength to believe in myself, you did, and you saw the promise in me when I couldn’t. Anytime I’ve ever needed you, you were always there.”
Just a small note about my reading. I enjoy my highlighter tool a lot. If I want to come back to a certain page or feeling, relive a moment or save a quote for a review, I highlight it. Generally I’llhave anywhere from 10-20 passages or quotes highlighted from any given book. In Beautiful Boy, might you ask? 42. I have 42 things highlighted and I feel the need to share every last one of them. I don’t know how I could possibly even think about picking a favourite, so just know that some that I’ve added in this review are just a small portion of the brilliance in this book.
*An ARC was received from the author and InkSlinger PR in exchange for an honest review.