Mia can’t believe that her father is shipping her off to live for the summer with a grandmother she has never met. Well, actually she can believe it, because obviously, why would her father want to be around her, not after what she has done. Mia has a daily reminder of that awful night every time someone looks at her and has that moment where they gasp, or when she happens to look in a mirror, which of course, she doesn’t.
Her face is a permanent scar of that night. The night she killed her sister. But Mia is still living and while her grandmother isn’t exactly warm and welcoming, she does get her a job for the summer working at a local deli not far from her grandmother’s apartment in New York City. New York is a far cry from her old home in Maine. Still the busy life at the deli helps to make Mia forget, at least temporarily, about the awfulness of her life. And on her first day there, she meets Fig. Fig with the electric blue hair and the family at the deli who is big and boisterous and so full of life that it is hard for Mia to be numb around them. Fig in turn introduces her to a group of friends, one of whom is Cooper, a boy that Mia quickly becomes fascinated with.
As the summer progresses though, new and old relationships will threaten the small space of peace that Mia has painstakingly carved out for herself and she wonders how she can truly every be whole again.
We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler is a story about the guilt many carry concerning events that ultimately were beyond their control. Mia must face the choice we all have about such events. Do they completely control us, or give us the insight we need to move forward?
Recommended for 7th grade and up.