Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (2009) is a spare, lyrical YA love story. The exact sort of feel that I'm going for with the YA book I wrote, though completely different plots and main characters.
Lucius Wolfe and Aurora Belle start high school in a new place on the same day. Although beautiful, kind Aurora, who recently lost her mother to cancer, is instantly a magnet for friends, Lucius, missing both arms due to a self-created chemical explosion in his home, is immediately shunned.
The story is told in alternating sections (I hesitate to say chapters because some sections don't even fill a page) from Aurora and Lucius' points of view. With their different personalities, that brings a nice balance to the story.
One of the reviews posted on Barnes & Noble.com noted that reader found Aurora a little too perfect. Actually, I thought Aurora was too quick to believe the absolute worst about Lucius when it mattered most; plus, even if upset with Lucius, that didn't mean she needed to become closer to Jessup, the other boy who wants Aurora. I definitely found her flawed/human.
And the best parts of Lucius were revealed in his friendships with his little sister and the school security guard. Although certainly flawed, he wasn't "bad."
My one complaint is that the story is too short. I would have appreciated a little more development of Lucius' past and more time with Aurora and Lucius actually together.
Short excerpt from p.156 (Aurora) and 157 (Lucius):
I just want to kiss him.
Is that so wrong?
I've never kissed any boy before, unless you count kissing Jessup during play rehearsals, which I don't.
When your mom is dying for five years, there's not really a whole lot of time left over in the day for kissing boys.
But now I want to erase those false first kisses with Jessup. A first kiss, I think, should be important, special. It should be with the person you want to kiss more than anybody in the world.
Her lips--how can I describe them?
Yes, they taste like salt from the chips, sweet from the soda, but I hardly notice that as I drown in the sensation of soft welcome. It is my first kiss and it is like discovering a new country and kissing someone who knows me better than anyone, all at the same time.
After a minute, I pull back. I want to look at her so I can really believe that she is here. With me.
"I thought you might like Jessup," I say, "once upon a time."
"I think you might be nuts," she says, smiles, "once upon a time."
My overall personal rating of Crazy Beautiful is a B.