Ordinary Beauty Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Ordinary Beauty

Sayre Bellavia, a homeless seventeen year-old girl, travels to confront her neglectful, drug addled mother before she dies in order to get answers about her motivations and love for her. Sayre Bellavia is introduced through a series of interior monologue with herself, telling the reader about her situation as a homeless seventeen year-old girl that has to fight the elements, and sometimes other people on the streets just to make it through the day. The daughter of a teen pregnancy at the age of fifteen, Sayre learns that her mother has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and is laying in a hospital bed just waiting to die. Startled at this news, the point of view of the novel shifts into third person limited, as Sayre goes though her daily routine while thinking about the events that had lead to her being homeless. At one point, Sayre recalls being in a foster home, where she was treated poorly by the other kids and also by the parents. Though she was clean and protected, Sayre wanted nothing more than to belong in a home, or be with her mother. Due to some funding from the state, though, Sayre's mother, Diane, was able to get a home . Despite being warned by her foster parents, Sayre chooses to live with her mother, and is startled to find out that she is once again pregnant. As the weeks go by, Diane shows signs of addiction to drugs to the point where she is confronted by a young Sayre. Her mother tells her that she was unwanted, and also that she does not love her because she could not make her boyfriend, Sayre's father, stay with her when he was born. Knowing that she could not go back to the foster home and that she cannot watch her mother makes such self-destructive choices, Sayre chooses to leave and live on the streets where she is in danger, but ultimately in control of her circumstances. Back in the present, Sayre has to make some of her most important decisions yet regarding college and work. After all, she is a rather intelligent young woman but is victimized by her circumstances. However, no matter what she decides to do during the day, her mind always manages to float back to her mother and the fact that she will be unable to get an answer about whether she was being hurtful or if she actually does not love her own daughter. During her final confrontation with her mother, Diane confides in her that she left her wealthy parent's home when she was just fifteen because she felt trapped and unwanted, and by doing the same to Sayre, making her feel unwanted, she wanted her to become the strong woman that she could never be. Sayre is unsure of these explanations because it does not make up for seventeen years of mental anguish, so she demands to know whether her mother loves her, but the heart monitor begins to go off as Diane goes into cardiac arrest. Just before she dies she gasps "I love you, Sayre". Sayre leaves the hospital with a sense of loss, belonging, and purpose. She decides that she will go to college and be a better person than her mother ever was as she sets off to meet her half-sister.
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Best part of story, including ending: I liked this story because it was not afraid to show the reality of a meth addiction and the effects that it has on families, and also that wealthy families are not immune to drug addiction.

Best scene in story: Sayre confronts a homeless man who has stolen some of her school books and just when you think it will become violent, she asks if he wants to learn to read.

Opinion about the main character: The main character is a strong woman that needed to know the answer to a question that would shape her life forever afterwards, and she still had the bravery to push forward and find out.

The review of this Book prepared by Jake Dempsey a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Ordinary Beauty

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Family, struggle with    -   Yes Struggle with:    -   Mother (or standin) Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Struggle over    -   search for family/history Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Extremely cynical or arrogant


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   5 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more dialog than descript

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Laura Wiess Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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