As Beautiful as it Seems by Diana Hawk
(Young Adult Fiction / Social Issues)
“Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. This adage is definitive of Diana Hawk’s new young adult masterpiece that mixes the drama and intrigue of Gossip Girl with the magic of the friendships of Harry Potter.
As Beautiful as it Seems takes readers on a journey with three young women who are navigating life’s most pivotal and tumultuous years. Through its marvelous storytelling, the book shares the darker sides of high school while maintaining a lighthearted tone. It’s the perfect read for those living through high school’s sometimes beautiful, sometimes brutal, years.
The novel’s three main characters, Ariana, Kiara, and Jade, look like they have it all. They are queens of the sophomore class, know all the best parties, and of course, get the attention of some good looking upperclassmen. But when has life on the surface ever reflected true reality? The answer, of course, is never. We’re all facing our own demons – whether it be our mental health, family issues, relationship stress, or burnout. There are too many emotional burdens to count and too many to even imagine. And yet, we’re always expected to be our best selves every day. Thanks to this book, we get a necessary reminder that sometimes, life is a lot more complicated than it appears.
She looks like she has it all, but no one sees Ariana’s crippling anxiety and her timely escapes to the bathroom before fainting from hyperventilating. Kiara might have the handsome boyfriend, but no one can get insight into the darkness and pain swirling through her mind – as she suffers with debilitating obsessive thoughts about weight loss. And Jade might be able to deflect with humor, but it’s not out of choice. She’s had to find ways to cope with the nightmarish rumors that spread about her. Diana Hawk does incredible work to craft a deeply human story. It shows how even the most beloved and successful struggle, especially during formative years.
The book’s character development is marvelous, and the story at large paints a brilliant picture of what it means to be human. Although this is Diana Hawk’s debut novel, you’d think she is a seasoned veteran. Her ability to tell this story and express how even the most successful among us struggle is an absolute triumph. I highly recommend this book to teenage readers – and all ages who are simply looking for an attentive and relevant story. It’s a difference-making book about friendship that reminds readers to look beyond the surface, and think about what it really means to live and grow when life can be unkind.