A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Suzanne Young A Need So Beautiful

272 pp.  Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins Publishers)  2011  ISBN: 978-0-06-200824-4

Source: ARC won through Goodreads’ First Reads giveaway, courtesy of HarperCollins

Summary (From the publisher):

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be forgotten.

Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become—her mark on this earth, her very existence—is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny—no matter how dark the consequences?

A Need So Beautiful had me hooked as soon as I started reading.  There isn’t any major action or anything like that, but sometimes there’s just something about the way an author writes that lets me know their book is going to be good.  Suzanne Young’s writing is exactly like that.  Charlotte is waiting for her friend Sarah, who is notoriously late, and notices a strange woman dressed all in black holding an umbrella even though it’s not raining.  The whole set up is intriguing, especially when Charlotte first feels the Need while standing outside of a funeral service.  I love that we’re introduced to the Need right away.  So many books now take forever to introduce us to the main idea of the story.  Suzanne Young does this right at the beginning without missing a beat.

I’ve been reading a lot of books written by Washington/Oregon authors lately.  This is fun for me because I visited Oregon last summer and loved it!  When I was there it was easy to understand why so many great books are written in that area; the Pacific Northwest oozes writing vibes.  A Need So Beautiful takes place in Portland, Oregon which is a very cool place to visit.  I got REALLY excited when Charlotte and her boyfriend Harlin started talking about Voodoo Doughnuts.  Harlin tells her he might get her the Bacon Maple Bar (which is tasty), but the Grape Ape is SO MUCH BETTER.  I had a craving instantly.  I know this really doesn’t fit with a review, but I had to mention it 🙂

After tasting the deliciousness, I had to take a picture of the Grape Ape!

The Need and being a Forgotten is a refreshing addition to the fantasy/paranormal genre.  Charlotte’s Need is to help strangers.  She can’t function until she fulfills the Need.  She’s forced to lie to those around her, which is causing quite a bit of tension in her relationships.  She’s doing good deeds, but they come at a price.  Every time she does, a piece of her or a memory of her is forgotten.  Can you even imagine?  It’s not an easy decision for Charlotte to make–help those around her and bring good into the world, or be remembered by those she loves.  The Need is coming more frequently which made this book a page turner.

I’d love to have my students read this book because I imagine the discussions would be lively and deep.  It’d be interesting to hear which students would welcome their fate as a Forgotten and which would fight it.  I can see most students being conflicted, with a few firmly on each side of the debate.  It makes me think of the Nature vs. Nurture discussion we had when my YA Lit class read Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn.

I highly recommend reading A Need So Beautiful.  The writing flows well, the characters are well-developed, and the plot is refreshing.  It’s a moving story with an ending that is still with me days later.  I’m excited to booktalk this in the fall!

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