We Were Beautiful

We Were Beautiful

by Heather Hepler


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The trace amount of alcohol in her bloodstream. The tremendous amount of guilt on her shoulders. A severely scarred face that is a daily reminder of the car crash that killed her sister. But when Mia finally pieces together her memories of the night Rachel died, the shocking truth might be as jarring as the crunch of metal.

It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Mia Hopkins was in a car crash that killed her older sister, Rachel, and left her own face 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 is quickly consuming 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 café 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’s always on Mia’s mind—she realizes that she’s not the only one with a painful past.

Over the summer, Mia starts 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 awful night Rachel died.

We Were Beautiful is:

  • A unique coming of age story about tragedy, forgiveness, and love
  • Written by acclaimed, award-winning author Heather Hepler
  • Perfect for fans of Robyn Schneider and Justina Chen.
  • A poignant, clean YA romance unafraid to explore serious contemporary life issues

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310766438
Publisher: Blink
Publication date: 04/02/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 443,951
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

Heather Hepler is the author of Frosted Kisses (Scholastic, 2015) Love? Maybe (Dial, 2012), The Cupcake Queen (Dutton, 2009), Jars of Glass (Dutton, 2008), Dream Factory (Dutton, 2007), and Scrambled Eggs at Midnight (Dutton, 2006). Heather has been making up stories in her head for as long as she can remember. It was an amazing day when she realized that she could use her talent for good instead of evil. Now instead of making up outrageous stories to explain why her hands were dyed purple; what happened to the last cookie; or why she decided that spending twenty dollars on a talking fish was a good idea, she pours her creative energy into her novels. Heather fills her award-winning novels with whatever captures her attention. Outer space, cupcakes, Renaissance Fairs, bacon truffles, Disney Princesses, sea glass, and love potions have all made the list. Currently she is fascinated with aliens and fruitcake. Her writing has received many awards and accolades and she has been told more than once by her son that when she writes, she makes weird faces. More about Heather can be found by visiting her website: www.heatherhepler.com. You can contact Heather at cupcakequeen@heatherhepler.com.

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We Were Beautiful 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
LibrarianSGP 7 months ago
Mia carries the facial scars from a tragic accident in which her older sister died when she was driving. Almost a year later, she is still unable to remember the events leading up to the crash, but knows she’s to blame. Abandoned first by her mother who leaves because the pain is more than she can bear and then by her emotionally paralyzed father, she is sent to NYC to spend the summer with a grandmother she’s never met and who is initially cold and distant. Despite hoping to hide, her grandmother arranges a job at a family diner run by the large, loud, loving Brunelli family who adopt her as one of their own. Fig, the granddaughter of the matriarch, Nonna, introduces her to her group of artistic friends (Art Attack) who share a common bond that is revealed as the story progresses. Over the course of the summer, friendships blossom, her attraction to enigmatic but adorable Cooper grows, and her amnesia slowly lifts, enabling her to learn the truth about the crash and to forgive herself. Helper has crafted a beautiful story that defines family as a loving rather than blood bond (Mia and her grandmother, the Brunelli’s, and the Art Attack kids). Art is a form of therapy, and Mia’s rediscovered passion for photography helps the healing process. The pacing is intentionally slow (written as a first-person diary of sorts) in order for the grieving and shedding of guilt to unfold organically. The lesson, never heavy-handed, is that we all have scars, many invisible, that fade with time but that are a reminder that we all have the capacity to heal with love and unconditional support. Diverse cast of characters with one interracial couple. Trigger warning for “recovering” Catholics who have a problem with the hypocrisy of the Church and some of its adherents. Highly recommended for libraries looking for young adult books on grief and healing or books that feature artistic protagonists. I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Blink through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
Lisa_Loves_Literature 7 months ago
This book was a little different than some contemporaries, but definitely had all the angst as well as humor that makes a teen story work. I liked all the characters, loved Fig's Italian family especially. It was also great to see that even as Mia struggled with her own demons of losing her sister, she still made the same mistake of assuming others hadn't been through things anywhere near what she had. Cooper was adorable, loved the idea of the mural he was making with the tiles. It was also fun to be experiencing New York City from a teen's perspective, made me want to take a trip out there again myself. A lot of food that sounded delicious at the restaurant, and then I loved one part where the character even pointed out something that has bothered me for a while now, the fact that fortune cookies rarely actually contain a fortune anymore. I say they are now just kind of proverb type of sayings, or as this character said, pithy sayings. A great book for a good spring read.
Cutiefulpink 7 months ago
Tragedy can strike any person at any time and it can change your life. Here we find Mia, who is terribly scarred following an accident that changed the lives of her entire family. In the beginning, all we know is that something irrevocable has happened creating a vast distance between Mia and her father, and necessitated her moving in with her grandmother. The gaps of the story are slowly filled in as Mia’s memory comes back. This book is really interesting, because the story is told through Mia’s memories as they are returning to her. In a way, the format of the book mirrors Mia’s journey perfectly. Nothing is completely clear to her, but as her memories come back, more of her past is revealed to both herself and the reader. I really loved Mia. I can’t imagine being scarred in that way, and I can’t imagine losing my sister. She survived something truly horrific, only to wish that she hadn’t, and to face the reality that maybe others wished she hadn’t. I’m not really sure how Mia was able to pick up and move on, but I really love books that can put me in a situation that I could never imagine on my own. It’s like really getting to live in another world. My favorite part about Mia and the writing in We Were Beautiful is how accurately Heather Hepler portrays teenage love and insecurity. Even in an overwhelming amount of stress, being a teenager is a universal rite of passage. Hepler brings amazing clarity and humor to this difficult and exciting time in a person’s life. The characters are wonderfully well developed, some with eccentric personalities. Her new friend Fig and her large extended family balance out Mia’s propensity for introversion and introspection. Honestly, this book was a delightful and intuitive read that I thoroughly I enjoyed. It’s completely fresh and perfect for young adult book readers. * Special thanks to Sheila Roberts, MIRA, and PUMP UP YOUR BOOK for providing a copy of The Summer Retreat in exchange for an honest review. more on www.amysbooketlist.blogspot.com
BookwormforKids 8 months ago
Emotions drive this teenage story of loss, guilt and forgiveness, creating a deep read. Mia doesn't know what to do with her grief or how to continue on even a year after a car crash which left her sister dead, but her alive. Even worse, Mia's memory from the event is filled with holes. Needing space for all to heal, Mia leaves her parents for the Summer to stay with her grandmother, a woman she doesn't really know. While swinging a job and dealing with her life, she meets friends who themselves have trials to overcome. This is a teenage novel which deals with tough topics such as sibling death, guilt and how to continue on. Mia comes across very realistically. The author dives deep into her, allowing the reader to grow close to her and sympathize with her in many ways. It's this character depth, and the wonderful writing which makes this an intriguing novel for those who enjoy tackling such topics. While the setting, writing, and characters are extremely well done and touch home, the pacing was sometimes a bit slow for my taste. But this also allowed for much more character depth, for those readers who love digging deep. The situation does come across realistically, and the thoughts and emotions fit extremely well to the age group and events. The ending leaves a little food for thought and satisfies. Fans of emotional young adult reads which tackle difficult moments in life are sure to enjoy this one. I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed reading it very much.
AdventurousBookworm 9 months ago
This is the prime example of what YA novel should be. This book deposited you into the world of Mia and her struggles and reluctantly released you and the end of the novel. The friendships between the teens were beautiful and lifelike. Throughout the novel, they discover more about each other and share their struggles. They learn to rely on each other in a way that makes them stronger. I was a bit shocked that Mia did not tell an adult about what happened to her sister on the night she died. All in all, I would recommend this to one looking for a story of healing, hope, and forgiveness. Personal Rating: 4 Stars Content Rating: 2 Stars *I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and a positive review was not required.