In anticipation of our Book Club Day later this week for Justina Chen Headley’s newest book “Return to Me,” we are featuring her previous book’s central characters Terra and Jacob as our latest “Favorite Couple.”
Couple: Terra Cooper and Jacob Fremont of “North of Beautiful” by Justina Chen Headley
Ages: They’re both seniors in high school
Who Are They? From afar, Terra Cooper looks like the perfect high-schooler. She is a super smart and gorgeous blonde with a popular jock boyfriend. But if you look closely, you’ll see that Terra is hiding under layers of heavy makeup, because she has a large, cloud-like port-wine stain on her face. It’s an inescapable flaw that she’d love to get rid of — as much as she’d like to be away from her dictatorial father (a disgraced cartographer) and her overly domestic mother
Why Do We Love Them: Terra lives under the crippling weight of hiding her true self, because she’s sure she’s grotesque — even her father calls her “pretty ugly.” But Jacob sees her for who she is and *wants* her to see the beauty within her — and that her birthmark is part of who she is, not something she needs to obsessively try to erase. Their relationship is filled with meaningful conversations and experiences. In the same way that they complement each other, their mothers, both damaged from difficult relationships, help each other heal as well. Jacob helps Terra see beyond the superficial and discover what she’s passionate about; he’s her compass, her guide, figuratively and literally. He’s the kind of partner we all need, and together they have a fiery but passionate friendship that turns into the kind of life-changing love that few teens find so young.
Jacob on Terra:
“This is beautiful,” I said, ignoring the shop window to trace the gleaming stone walls fronting another boutique.
“You know what’s funny?” Jacob asked. He didn’t wait for my answer. “You can see beauty in everything, except for yourself.”
“You know, I don’t even see your birthmark anymore,” he said to me, traced the ragged edges of my port-wine stain beneath my makeup with the tip of his finger. I shivered. “Which makes me sad,” he continued, “because it looks like Bhutan. That’s the one place in the world I’ve really wanted to see.”
Terra on Jacob:
He knew me in all the ways that truly mattered: the shape of my fears, the contours of my dreams.
And then there was Jacob, who stepped closer to me and then waited, letting me decide whether I would take the next step. Balanced there in indecision, it was as if the Twisted Sisters were before me, shaking their pom-poms, asking: But what is fair about staying with a guy who is ashamed to be seen with you? What was so miraculous about a relationship that was based more on my gratitude than mutual respect.
The pressure of his touch through my jacket and my sweater was more assurance than any promise ever made to me. It was a touch that said, I have your back and I am here for you. If a girl wasn’t careful, she could fall in love with a touch like that.