“How can you make someone love you when they won’t?

And what if that person happens to be your mother?

Sayre Bellavia grew up knowing she was a mistake: unplanned and unwanted. At five months shy of eighteen, she’s become an expert in loneliness, heartache, and neglect. Her whole life she’s been cursed, used, and left behind. Swallowed a thousand tears and ignored a thousand deliberate cruelties. Sayre’s stuck by her mother through hell, tried to help her, be near her, be important to her even as her mother slipped away into a violent haze of addiction, destroying the only chance Sayre ever had for a real family.

Now her mother is lying in a hospital bed, near death, ravaged by her own destructive behavior. And as Sayre fights her way to her mother’s bedside, she is terrified but determined to get the answer to a question no one should ever have to ask: Did my mother ever really love me? And what will Sayre do if the answer is yes?”

I’ve been wanting to read Such A Pretty Girl for a long time, but could never find a copy locally to purchase and I always would seem to forget to order it. I’ve heard amazing things about Laura Wiess for just as long, so when I saw Ordinary Beauty I had to give it a try.

This is one of the most heartwrenching books I’ve read ever, from the first page my heart ached. It actually took me a bit longer to read than it should have, because I kept having to give myself little breaks from the crying the entire book kept causing. Sure, there were chapters of Sayre’s past that were like little rays of hope, but because you know the outcome from the beginning those seem too short-lived. It’s one of those tales in which social services and the state do so wrong by the child, but despite that, she has great role models during small periods of her childhood that make her an amazing 17 year old girl.

I know I say this about a lot of characters I review, but Sayre is one of the strongest, she may even be the strongest. The story is told in alternating chapters between what’s happening currently and her thoughts or stories she’s telling others of the past. I honestly felt like I was eavesdropping on Sayre’s thoughts and story as the book played out. I don’t want to get too deep into other characters, because doing so could possibly give away some of the storyline that slowly is brought to light in the book. I will say I love the character of Beale and I loved Evan.

I don’t usually like discussing “Well, if this would’ve happened” topics in reviews, but I must say I wanted to scream at Sayre at times to just open up and tell someone the real truth of her life. Mostly for the mere fact that my heartached so much for this child who had seen and experienced things adults would not be able to handle. It’s miraculous she ended up as kindhearted as she did.

Despite the hard subject matter, this is a must read book. I’m definitely going to pursue other books by Wiess, as well.

Ordinary Beauty hits shelves June 14th. I received my egalley from Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab program for review.