Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadahota

April 27, 2010
Have you ever had a best friend that moved? Have you ever promised to take care of a sibling, but was unable to? These situations are displayed in the book Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata. In a world of beauty, Shelby and her three sisters live with their mother. The sisters are Marilyn, Shelby, Lakey, and Maddie, in that age order. This seems like a normal family, except for the fact that each of the girls had a different father. Naturally, the girls are really close, despite the difference in their fathers. Their world then turns upside down when their mother gets into a car crash. Even though she doesn’t die, the girls have to live with their fathers for the time being. While Shelby goes off to her odd father, Jiro, she is disturbed by the fact that she can’t take care of Maddie. . Because of her father’s belief in discipline, Maddie is gradually turning into a “robot,” and Shelby is unable to help her. The sisters later have to return because their mother has a Staph infection. Maddie is now so changed that her sisters barely know her anymore. To prevent themselves from being separated once more, they all run away.
Shelby is almost thirteen and is full Japanese. She is the second oldest and had promised her mother to take care of Maddie if she was away. Shelby hides her emotions more than anyone else in her family. If she cries, she cries at night. She usually stays awake at night, thinking about problems in her life. Like all her sisters, Shelby changed during the time with her father. She was devastated to be separated, and nervous about meeting her father, whom she hasn’t seen in a while. At first, she felt uncomfortable around him, even though he was her father. The more time progressed, Shelby came to love him and accept him as a father. But Shelby also took on responsibilities Jiro thought she should not take. This occurred when Shelby got a phone call from Maddie saying that she got spanked for wetting her bed. Shelby then tried to catch a bus to her town and save Maddie from her father. Jiro prevented her from going, but Shelby still wanted to save Maddie. In the end, Shelby saw her responsibilities clearer and accepted her father.
This book was a page turner; you can’t stop reading. The book provides a lot of suspense and worry throughout the book. The most suspenseful moments are when Maddie changes more and more through her letters. She goes from sentences like, “But I don’t want to say dad because it feels funny,” and “I’m scared of raccoons,” on page 122, to “I am doing well and am grateful to Father for helping me get through this difficult time,” on page 139. It gives readers the creeps and helps them sympathize with Shelby. It also makes them want to read on to see what will happen to Maddie next. Furthermore, the author surprises you with the string of events. For instance, the car crash and the mother getting the staph infection is totally unexpected. It makes readers wonder how it could have been prevented and what will happen in the future.
I recommend this book because you can relate to it in some ways, but read about different experiences. You can relate to being away from a friend or relative for a while, then meeting them again and being shocked by how they changed. You can also experience how life revolves around beauty and how mature and grown up you have to be to convince your mother how there is a world outside of beauty. I also bet that you don’t live with three sisters from three different fathers. The book also makes you laugh and cry, and it also makes you think. In conclusion, everyone can relate to this book in one way or another, thus, everyone should read it.

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trblue said...
May 5, 2010 at 7:38 pm

i would like to say this artical was nicely written.

i stoped reading because i know this book is good. it's on my wish list of books to get. i should have not read this any  way becuse spoiler.

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