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.