Sunday, April 25, 2010

beautiful monster, kate mccaffrey

beautiful monster explores one family's grief following the loss of a child, as well as eating disorders and the pressure to succeed at school. it tends slightly to being an "issues book" but fortunately this is a genre at which mccaffrey excels. her first two books, destroying avalon (cyber-bullying) and in ecstasy (teenage drug abuse), were critically well-received.

since her little brother brodie tragically died (this bit was incredibly moving and very well-written) tess has felt the pressure to be the perfect child. her friend ned has been a comfort to her since her brother died but ned has started to play on tess' fears and insecurities; she's too fat, too stupid. it is soon clear that ned is not all he appears.

i was quite frustrated with tess and her relationship with ned - i had to put the book down once or twice because i didn't understand why she did certain things. the book also had a few false endings and it covers quite a few years in not a lot of space - i know it is a bit confusing when i say that i thought the book should have been either shorter, or longer.

in beautiful monster mccaffrey not only tackles death and grief, but also eating disorders and mental illness. the characters are very real - and here is the heart of the story. tess' family and friends are obviously lovingly crafted, as is their grief, strength, weaknesses and empathy.

as with a lot of books crammed with issues i thought at times this book was a bit much (dramatic and a wee bit hyperbolic) but teenage girls (13-15 or so) will enjoy this book.


  1. Ohhh, perect timing! I just read In Ecstacy and hadn't heard of any of Kate McCaffrey's other work before.

    Very interesting as it seems some of the concerns you had with the book were almost the exact ones I had with In Ecstacy.

  2. shes brilliant one of the most talented writers i have come across in a while , im always amazed at the work that goes in to each of her books. everyone of them will tackle not just one but a wide range of issues branching out to a huge audience and from experience she hits the nail on the head.

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