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Ordinary Beauty    by Laura Wiess order for
Ordinary Beauty
by Laura Wiess
Order:  USA  Can
MTV, 2011 (2011)
Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Sayre Bellavia's mother is addicted to pills and alcohol. It's been that way her entire life, except for one year when Sayre's life was almost perfect. Through flashbacks as her mother lies dying, Sayre tells the story of her young life. She grows up being physically and mentally abused by her mother and her mother's friends. Her mother takes away every person who ever loved her.

One night, just months before her eighteenth birthday, she and her mother argue. Everything Sayre has held back comes out. She says things she's never said before about all her mother has thrown away. After her mother kicks her out of the cabin they share with her mother's friend, she has nowhere to go so. She's forced to ask to stay with Harlow, her mother's old boyfriend, another addict and alcoholic. Harlow is also a convicted murderer. He lets her stay, but living with him is almost as scary as living with her mother Outside snow falls all winter. She sleeps on the floor or the couch, but at least it's out of the cold.

Sayre spends all of her time, when not in school, studying at the library or at a local restaurant where she has a job busing tables. Harlow lives in a trailer eleven miles out of town. Sayre pays another restaurant employee to drive her there after work - she's dropped off on the highway with still another mile to walk on a frozen country road.

Sayre is a character you can't turn away from. In this and earlier books, Laura Wiess tells the stories of young people with shattered lives. Someone should speak for them and, even though she writes fiction, Wiess does it well.

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