When thirteen-year-old Cassie moves to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. She chooses some dangerous new friends and is quickly caught up in their fast-paced world of drugs, sex, secrets, and cruelty.
Cassie's new existence both thrills and terrifies her. She embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, starts sleeping with an older boy, and gets pulled into a twisted friendship triangle that is tinged with violence and abuse. Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral, and there's no turning back.
First off, I would like to say that Beautiful was a wonderful debut novel; so raw and heartbreaking. I personally have watched some close friends go through the same things Cassie did. What inspired you to write this particular story?
Thanks so much, Casey. This story was very much inspired by my own experiences and those of people I've known. I wanted to explore the pain of that time period of my life, partly in order to understand it, but also to share it and hopefully help others who might be going through the same thing.
Throughout the novel, I’ve wondered why doesn’t Cassie’s mother try to help her? Or did she just not want to acknowledge the fact that her daughter was far from perfect? Some parents can be like that and I think it just makes the situation worse.
I think Cassie's mother was very much in denial about what was going on with her daughter. She was in so much pain herself, she just couldn't bear to see Cassie's. That is no excuse for the fact that she let her daughter down and failed to protect her as a parent. But I think it's important to try to have compassion for her. She loved Cassie very much, but she did not know how to be a good mother to her.
I learned a lot of things from this book like: you never go wrong with just being yourself. What do hope that readers will learn from reading Beautiful?
That is definitely one of the things I hoped people would take away from the book. It can be very dangerous to go down the path of letting other people make decisions for you and define who you are. I also hope that people will see that no matter what happens, there is always a way out and a way to ask for help. I think people can feel very isolated when they're scared and in danger, and sometimes it seems like there's no one to turn to. But there's always a way out. There's always hope.
If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
I've often thought that I'd love to have my own little farm somewhere, with a bunch of animals and a giant vegetable garden. But I think that might actually get a little lonely, and I'd want to do more to give back. I think I'd like to do something where I'm helping people, like maybe being a counselor in a rehab center for teens, or some other way to work with at-risk youth. I hope that when life calms down, I'll be able to start doing volunteer work like that.
Are you working on anything at this moment?
As a matter of fact, I'm working on a YA novel that takes place in an adolescent drug and alcohol treatment facility. It's in the pretty early stages at this point, but if you like Beautiful, I'm pretty sure you'll like this one.
What are some of your hobbies?
Reading, of course. I also like gardening, camping, hiking, and basically anything outdoors. I love doing simple things like having dinner or playing boardgames with my husband and friends, going to movies, cooking, eating ice cream, taking my dog Peanut to the dog park. And sleeping. I love sleeping.
Thanks so much Amy!