We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler
Published: April 2, 2019
Genres: YA Fiction, Contemporary
Synopsis: It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in the car crash that killed her older sister and left her terribly scarred. The doctors tell her she was lucky to survive. Her therapist says it will take time to heal. The police reports claim there were trace amounts of alcohol in her bloodstream. But no matter how much she tries to reconstruct the events of that fateful night, Mia’s memory is spotty at best. She’s left with accusations, rumors, and guilt so powerful it could consume her.
As the rest of Mia’s family struggles with their own grief, Mia is sent to New York City to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met. All Mia wants to do is hide from the world, but instead she’s stuck with a summer job in the bustling kitchens of the cafe down the street. There she meets Fig–blue-haired, friendly, and vivacious–who takes Mia under her wing. As Mia gets to know Fig and her friends–including Cooper, the artistic boy who is always on Mia’s mind–she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.
Over the summer, Mia begins to learn that redemption isn’t as impossible as she once thought, but her scars inside run deep and aren’t nearly so simple to heal … especially when Mia finally pieces together her memories of the night Rachel died.
Hi everyone! I am coming to you today with a review of this really great YA contemporary novel about grief, trauma, friendship, beauty, and forgiveness. I was drawn into the book from the very first pages as the main character, Mia, says goodbye to her father and climbs onto a train heading toward New York. She is going to be spending the summer with her estranged grandmother because life hasn’t been the same since she lost her sister in a car accident last year. Her mom left and her dad has checked out mentally. Mia herself has been left with a scarred face and no memory of the night of the accident. Living with her grandmother means attending church and starting a summer job working at Brunelli’s Diner.
So here is where we meet most of our characters. First off, our main character Mia is scarred both outside and in. She is quiet and shy, but throughout the book it is so clear that she is exactly where she needs to be and with exactly the right people to help her through her situation. Grandma Victoria is an awesome character. She seems rather cold and a stickler for manners in the beginning, but she makes a strong effort to provide for Mia. The best thing of all is that Mia gives back to her too. She gives her happiness and fun. And lastly, there is Fig and the Brunelli family. Within this new circle of friends, Mia finds new support she has never had before. Little by little she regains her confidence and learns (as corny and cliche as this sounds) to finally accept herself and live a full life.
About the Author: Heather Hepler
I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which I think is one of the cooler places to be born, because initially people think I’m being funny—like I’m saying I was born on the moon, but then they see I’m actually being serious. It feels like since then I’ve lived nearly everywhere (well, only in the US—which is a bummer because I want to travel so much). In high school, I was in band and honors society and science club and worked on the school newspaper. All this in Texas where football was king and cheerleaders were the school royalty. When people ask me what I remember about middle school and high school, I stand there for several seconds not saying anything. This isn’t because I can’t remember anything, but because I remember too many things and I can’t figure out what to say out loud.
I spent the first part of college in Alaska, which was amazing. The first time I saw Northern Lights, I thought I was imagining it. I just couldn’t get my head around the idea that something so beautiful existed in the real world. That’s when I first started writing. This was my bad poetry phase. I think it was the combination of living there with long very cold winters and being in love with a guy that barely knew I existed that made me do it. People ask me all the time if I write poetry. I wish I could and maybe I will someday, but for now I am firmly a fiction writer.
*Giveaway* If you would like to win 1 of 5 copies of We Were Beautiful, click on the Rafflecopter link to enter. Giveaway is open through 5/1/19!
Book soundtrack: “The First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes