"My mother had four daughters by four different men."
There's only one way Shelby and her sisters can describe their mother: She's a sexpot. Helen Kimura collects men (and loans, spending money, and gifts of all kinds) from all over the country. Sure, she's not your typical role model, but she's also not just a pretty face and nail polish. She is confident and brave; she lives life on her own terms, and her four daughters simply adore her. These girls have been raised outside the traditional boundaries. They know how to take the back exit. They know how to dodge crazed lovers in highway car chases. They do not, however, know how to function without one another.
Then suddenly they must. A late-night phone call unexpectedly shreds the family apart, catapulting the girls across the country to live with their respective fathers. But these strong-willed sisters are, like their mother, determined to live life on their own terms, and what they do to pull their family back together is nothing short of beautiful.
At turns wickedly funny and insistently thought-provoking, Outside Beauty showcases Cynthia Kadohata's unerring ability to explore the bonds that bind.
Newbery Medalist Kadohata's (Kira-Kira) gifts for creating and containing drama and for careful definition of character prove as powerful as ever in this wise, tender and compelling novel. Although the 12-year-old narrator, Shelby, and her three sisters are as different as their respective fathers (whom they rarely see), they remain devoted to one another and to their stunningly beautiful Japanese-American mother, who uses her looks to collect men the same way she collects pieces of jewelry (and for much the same purpose). When their mother is critically injured and disfigured in a car crash, the girls are dispersed from their Chicago apartment to the care of the four fathers. At first Shelby's father, a Japanese-born gum manufacturer in rural Arkansas, reminds her of "one of those nearsighted Japanese men with cameras who moved in clusters throughout Chicago tourist attractions." But when one of the fathers appears to be mistreating a sister and Shelby tries to plan a way for all four to reunite, she begins to appreciate her father's kindness and generosity, and to find beauty in unexpected places. Her growing insight into the difference between beauty and perfection accompanies steady revelations about families and love. Ages 12 up.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Loved it then, loved it now.
I remember picking up this book as an eleven year old in my middle school library, only because it had a paper crane on the cover and because I had to choose something to read for homework assignments. But as I began reading it, the story really caught my attention. How different each sister was, the mother who lived in a universe all about beauty, how much they admired their mother and aspired to be like her. I remember finishing this story within one whole night, no joke! It was such a great novel, after finishing it, I remember I didn't know what to do with my life after finishing it as a kid. Now after all these years, I finally reunited myself to this story and have learned a lot more about it than I did before, of course. I realize it wasn't just all about the mom and how they finally got to stay together while their mother heals but how important the sisters meant to one another, more specifically, to Shelby. It made me think of my three younger nieces who were like little sisters to me and how I couldn't imagine them feeling miserable about life or being sad, or having them hate me because I couldn't do my best to make them happy. I remember at one part, I believe it was the part where Shelby had to lie to Maddie about being near each other in Arkansas, and Maddie was full of hope that they'd see each other often and I couldn't give those lies to my nieces. I couldn't give them false hope, only to shatter it later on, even if I wanted to do my best to do whatever I could to make them happy. I bursted into tears on some parts of the story! It was so touching, in so many ways. And now I do see what Shelby meant, when she had basically said you have to face your troubles and fears eventually. You can't keep running away from them. I feel like I can relate to that well in my own personal life.
I read some other reviews on goodread about this story and there was one that seemed to have absolutely disliked this story but I just don't think they understand. They don't understand the quality of being a child and seeing your mother as your role model, as everything you may want to be growing up. Then as Shelby grows up, she realizes that's not the way she wants to go. They say this story is shallow and all about beauty but just like the kid me, they didn't see the true meaning behind it. Overall, this was a great book and I would recommend it to people. :)
This was one of the best books i have EVER read!!!!!!!!!!! I can relate to this book so much. Cynthia Kadohata is a very inspirational writer!