Beauty: Christina Chiu
Creating a life for herself, Amy Wong went in many directions that she thought would yield her the life she wanted as a designer. But she went about it the wrong way. Finding herself needed money she became a prostitute. Things would change dramatically when she went to a party with other hopefuls with her friend Ben. The scenes are quite graphic and the language quite strong as we get to know the others at this party and realize that she is insecure in many ways. When Katrina walks in all decked out and her ex-boyfriend Rick who she seems fixed on with his girlfriend parading around, Amy finds herself falling in a deep depression until Ben introduces her to the star of the party Jeff Jones. The interaction is quite unique and the final scene in that chapter after they meet is not what you would expect. Things get quite tense at one point and then explicit as we learn about his wife, children and realize that he does not really honor his vows and Amy has his hooked for many reasons. The story moves ahead and the begin to decide on their future but the romance is not typical and yet she finds herself falling for him head over heels. Marriage to him meant a prenup but she never read the document or the fine print. Signing and not reading is not smart as she would eventually find out but not in time. Life was different and he claimed he cared for her, but did he? Amy longed for her ex-boyfriend Rick and connected with him but why? Things led from one thing to another and the author moves ahead letting us know she had a son named Alex. Alex seems to be either autistic or ADHD neither defined but his behaviors might warrant both. He is wild, unfocused yet in his own way endearing and when he has an accident later at age ten things between Jeff and Amy fall apart and divorce happens, and they are supposed to share his care.
Amy seems disenchanted and wants to become a designer and has jobs but not at high levels and Alex needs her care and she meets William who has a precious son named Toby who relates to her. Amy seems to be struggling with her own identity and who she really is. Even her interactions with her mother who is abusive in many ways with her words and language, her belittling of her and the fact that she did not take any money when divorcing Jeff, she berates her even when she prefers her own independence and money. William at first seems right but his anger and his inability to show compassion for Toby leads you to realize he needs help with anger management and much more. Will this relationship work out for her and will she ever find a place in the fashion industry?
Things take on many dark turns as William becomes more than obsessive and violent. His son Toby loves Amy as a mother and when things get rough and he becomes abusive to his son, Toby refuses to remain with his father yet wanting his love anyway. Alex is now going to Harvard and that is another hard road for her and Jeff to deal with plus his medical issue. Why does he want her to work with him as a designer? As a designer or as his nurse? Added in she learns more about her father’s family and with her mother attends his funeral. All the while her best friend Ben is always there for her but when Toby is attacked by his father things have gone too far and the reasons for his attack proves his loyalty to Amy the one, he considers is mother.
Author Christina Chiu gives us inside look at the fashion industry, the difficulties Amy faces and the fact that she is half Chinese and half American and at times that works by for and against her in many ways. Her father’s funeral introduces his new wife and she meets her half-brother but in the back of her mind she is worried about Toby and she still must find her place and where she thinks she belongs. She lacks self-confidence and falls prey to what Jeff expects from her and William’s angry ways. It took Toby and her neighbor to finally bring an end to that.
As the years pass and Jeff steps down and a new CEO is chosen we hear the first meeting, we understand that he is wrong for the position and finally Amy stands her ground, stands up to him as the Executive Creative Director of the company and things are about to change. Jeff is not well and although the prognosis might call for hardcore meds, he has presence of mind to take on the CEO, decide who will replace this man and the meeting that sets Amy up in the fashion industry where she finally belongs.
The novel moves ahead quite rapidly through the years as Alex is married and has a young daughter. Toby is close to Amy and things change drastically after her father’s family and we get to know what he accomplished and where Alex is now. But the ending will endear you to Amy and realize that she is concerned about the news that her granddaughter has hit her with. Just where will the company go if Alex decides to step down? What will her final mark be in the industry? Where will Kathryn her granddaughter wind up? Will she take the reins after her father? Each one has their own strengths and weaknesses as the author brings to light within the novel, but one thing is uniform and that is their loyalty to each other and family bond. Toby, Alex, Kathryn, Ben, Jeff and Amy might not all be models or females but all exhibit in their own way whether physically or in other words the true meaning of this title: BEAUTY!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews