Written by – Camilla Abbruzzese
Translation by – Julia Perry
The dream of every writer is to break the bank like JK Rowling or thanks to a saga like that of Twilight and, sometimes, success is truly unexpected. With a great success in the U.S. and finally arriving in Europe, after compliments from the most respected magazines and after having climbed the ranks in the New York Times: “Beautiful Disaster” by Jamie McGuire is the novel that is sweeping the teenage generation around the world. And to think that the above cited author was, until the very last moment, undecided on writing this masterpiece – but luckily for us, and for her, her friends’ convincing pushed her in the right direction. All the publishers to which she sent the draft of her manuscript started a bloody fight to have it, but Atria, one of the most influential, prevailed. Now the book, which, contrary to the title of the story, is anything but a disaster, is translated into 25 different languages and is traveling through the hands of readers all over Europe.
It often happens that instead of us choosing a book, the book chooses us. I am sure my experience will be similar to many others’: you’re in the library, you look around a bit and glance at the numerous titles, you pull out a few and read the inside flap of the cover to get an idea of what it’s about. Almost none of them really interest you. Initially, yes, but then you read something that you don’t like and you just think that it’s not worth the read. Then, a cover of another book catches your eye, the book “Beautiful Disaster” and you start to get the feel of it, to get an idea on what it’s about.
Abby, a university freshman. Abby, with her college habits and 19 year-old life. Abby, the girl who meets the wrong guy, something that has definitely happened to all of us at least once before in our lifetimes. Abby, a girl that could easily be me, a friend of mine, or a mirror image of my unconscious. When all the coincidences push you to spend 16 euro 40, you’re done. When you return home in the evening, before going to sleep, you start reading the first few lines, then the first few pages, that end up turning into the first chapters, gradually, entering ever more into the narrative until getting fully enclosed. You get carried away, as it so often happens with movies, entering the mind of the characters, but at the same time feeling like a character yourself in the scene and, page after page, experiencing the pain of the words written and grasping all the emotions, even though you may not be going through them in your own life at the time.
The typical provincial girl and the classic thug who never falls in love but strays from his comfort zone, Abby and Travis share a love story too close to the norm, yet original in its own way because what they have is more real than any pattern or fiction. Abby represents the typical girl with sound principles, and Travis, the bad boy who gives up the lifestyle of the one-night-stand. When he meets Abby, Abby tries everything in order to pretend like she’s not interested and not have him win this one, without taking into account that saying no to someone like Travis categorizes a girl like Abby, as crazy. And this is exactly how it goes: the roles invert and the one-night-stand type bad boy rediscovers the peace that he once lost as a child, through watching Abby sleep, that her trying not to charm him, makes him fall in love with her a bit more each time.
A beautiful disaster because the lives of two people like Abby and Travis, are never that easy: it’s a ferocious and veracious passion that tires but never exhausts, that seems to come close to the end but then comes back more alive than ever. A violent fire, insensitive to jealousy, to mistakes, to words of hatred spoken from anger, towards people that never believed it could ever work. And this is the reason as to why it’s beautiful, strong, pure, never taken for granted, lived long and fully. The lover that’s chosen from first glance and that from that moment on, we can’t live without.
This book is not only a love story, it’s more, it’s a story of friendship that comes before everything else, but also an act of redemption of the past, from the wounds that have not yet healed, and familial issues. It is to be taken with bare hands in order to hold and fully grasp every nuance, every feeling, and every atmosphere. It’s a story that also allows us to dream and to believe that you must always have faith hope because there is always something in life strong enough to make us change our minds when it comes to love.
It is not by chance or luck that McGuire is so successful, because in her 300 pages, a profound, intense, passionate, exciting tale is told. It is one of those books that, once you’ve started, you are unable to put down because it maintains an interesting storyline throughout, is a narrative that never drops in quality, and that makes you feel the need to continue reading it and to savor all at once. I think this is what took America’s publishers by surprise, this book’s ability to buy up the crowd’s attention the way it did, which is rare nowadays, since we’re so accustomed to having only LCD screens posed in front of us and are no longer used to a good read.
And when the public’s interest is so intense, you find yourself unable to resist the temptation to cut yourself off from the outside world and to hold onto those pages of fiction, to lose track of time and lose touch with your everyday life because, even wanting to, no page seems to be a good enough stopping point. Books like this one become a reader’s passionate lover for a few days and after you’ve finished reading them, leave a void that, unfortunately, cannot be filled by another book, not necessarily because the one you just finished reading is the best book written on Earth, as much as the fact that the story it tells you make your own, and although you may read something similar, it will never be exactly the same.