Review: The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

I originally gave this 2.5 stars but I have since decided that 1 star better reflects my feelings about the book,

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

Two girls. One event that changed everything.

Adrienne and Harper were the best of friends. Until a tragedy led them to flee their small, quiet town in Iowa. Adrienne ran halfway across the world, living her life in Africa, while Harper went down a destructive path closer to home.

When something pulls them back to their hometown, the girls realize that they have more to deal with than they first ran away from.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This is going to sound so weird, but I had a completely different idea of what this book was when I picked it up. The cover made me think, "Oooh, it looks historical. I like historical fiction!" But then, I started reading it and realized that it wasn't historical fiction. It was a contemporary set in our modern world...

I also somehow had the impression that the main character was in her teens. I don't know how or why, but I think that the original synopsis had gotten that idea into my head. And no, she's not in her teens. She's actually in her mid-to late twenties...

But really, tell me that you didn't think this was historical fiction when you glanced at the cover. It takes some serious focus to realize that it's not. And I was SO CONFUSED when I started reading the book because every idea I had about it was wrong 🙁

So, when I started the book, I was really confused and it took me quite awhile to re-adjust my original idea of the book into the reality of what it was. Once I got myself to think about the book as it actually was, I realized that I wasn't really feeling it. I had wanted something more along the lines of historical fiction and something that was more...happy and romantic. But I had already started the book, and I felt like it was probably something that I could push through to see if my mood would change.

Somewhere down the line, I did find myself liking the plot, but I felt like it was too simplistic for what the author was trying to do to the book. By the fifth or sixth chapter, I had already figured out about half of the mystery and felt like things were beginning to get repetitive.

Nothing really stood out to me, and I felt like there could have been so much potential for the book, if only the author had chosen to execute it differently.

I felt like the two main characters, Adrienne and Harper, just didn't want to deal with anything. They just wanted to run away and not face their problems, which ironically, most of their problems were created by them, OR created by them not wanting to deal with a previous problem. And for characters their age, I thought it was really immature and childish of them to act like that. Having main characters like that made me really not want to continue with the book.

When I got past the halfway point of the book, I was happy to see that the plot was picking up a bit. I wouldn't say that things were finally happening, but it did get more interesting. Then came a revelation that I had suspected for awhile, and I was not okay with it. The revelation completely contradicted what one of the characters kept saying, and the fact that she kept it a secret for all these years made me so angry with her. I had such a hard time being okay with what she did and how the author made her character so okay with it in the present day.

I get really frustrated with characters who are obviously older than me, and yet they still act like teenagers. In fact, this is also something that annoys me about real people. If you're in your late twenties, for goodness sake, please act your act and stop behaving like a hormonal teenager! Why can't Adri and Harper just act like adults for once and everything could be solved so easily??? Ugh, I'm so frustrated with these characters, it's not even funny.

When the ending came around, I was already so over the book and so done with the premise that I didn't really care how it was going to end. The secret was revealed and the past was dug up and it was all the reconciliation you could expect from a contemporary. It was a good ending, don't get me wrong, but by that time, I just wasn't interested in the book anymore and didn't really care what was going to happen to the characters. We got a good resolution, though I did think that some things were a little too convenient, so at least we have that: a good resolution.

One of the main characters, Adrienne, just kept going in circles around one thing and she refused to accept that it could possibly be different. She just kept harping on it and didn't want to deal with it. And that really annoyed me. For a character that was supposed to be in her mid- to late twenties, I felt like she had the maturity level of a high schooler. Then when things were revealed further on about a secret that the characters had, I felt like Adrienne dealt with it so badly. She kept saying "If *insert other character* would push me now, I'd tell him/her everything. But he/she didn't, so I'm glad I'm not saying anything," and then would go on later about how that secret plays a huge part in why she left and how she felt like she didn't know anything for sure five years ago and still didn't now.

When we were finally introduced to Harper, almost halfway through the book, I was kind of over her character. Adrienne's descriptions of her just made me not want to know that much about her. I didn't like her and her storyline made little sense to me. From Adrienne's previous descriptions of Harper, I wouldn't have understood how she got herself into that situation and why she didn't want to deal with it either. The more I read about her, the more I disliked her. There were a lot of things she did that I felt was completely unacceptable. Later on, she did something that I thought was so stupid! Especially because she called it a mistake of sorts afterward and wanted to treat it like it never happened. Umm hello? I'm pretty sure that doing stuff and acting like it never happened is more than half of what got you into the bad situation you're in right now, and gee, let's all just do stuff irresponsibly!

Possibly the only person I liked in this book was Sam, Adri's dad. He was so supportive of his daughter and cared so much about her, even though she kept pushing her whole family away. He was a nice change from Adri and Harper, and unlike them, he was actually practical and smart.

It just felt like Adrienne and Harper had several things from their past and present that they didn't want to deal with, even if it was standing in front of them and begging to have everything over and done with. I actually found this part of the characterization quite unlikable. 

Unfortunately, I'm giving this a 1 star. I really liked the idea of it, but the deliverance and the characters just really irked me. But I would say that this is still worth checking out if the synopsis interests you, it just wasn't my cup of tea.


Thank you to NetGalley for hosting this on your site. Thank you also to Atria for approving my request to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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