Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata

Classification:  YA Literature
Genre:  Realistic Fiction
Ages 10+
Subjects:  Sisters, friendship, family

“When I saw other girls living normal lives, in what one of my teachers called ‘a traditional nuclear family,’ those girls seemed to be living in a parallel universe.”  ~ from Outside Beauty

Summary:  Helen Kimura uses her exotic beauty and femininity to wrap men around her little finger.  Raising four daughters, each fathered by a different man, Helen is undeniably different from other mothers, and her girls are best friends as well as half-sisters.  Marilyn, Shelby, Lakey and Maddie cannot imagine a life without road trips, Mom’s boyfriends, and pow-wows, let alone without each other.  Then Helen is injured in a car accident and the girls must live with their respective fathers while Helen undergoes a series of surgeries.  Devastated, the girls try to cope with being separated while getting along with their dads and worrying about their mom.  If Helen doesn’t recover, will any of the girls be able to face the future without their treasured support system?

Notes:  Narrated by 12-year-old Shelby, this funny yet heart-felt story reveals the deep bonds of love between sisters and gently probes at the philosophical questions, “what is physical beauty after all—to a / Blind man?  What is human beauty—to a dog?”
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