by Alex Flinn, 304 pages
Sophomore Kyle Kingsbury is popular, rich, and more handsome than any boy has a right to be, with an influential father and a hot girlfriend, to boot. He's also a great big jerk. When he goes too far tormenting an unpopular, and strangely unfamiliar, classmate at his prestigious private school, he finds out the hard way that things (and people) are not always what they appear to be--including himself. With his outside now magically matching his less-than-beautiful inside, Kyle finds himself abandoned by his "friends", girlfriend, and even his own appearances-obsessed father. After years of not caring about what's beneath the surface, can he learn to appreciate true beauty and earn his way back into humanity before it's too late and he's stuck in a beastly body forever?
This modern retelling of the "Beauty and the Beast" tale was enthusiastically recommended by a teen patron and I can see why she liked it. I enjoyed seeing things from Kyle's point of view (especially as fairy tales are so often told from the female perspective) and watching his attitude and perceptions of others and himself change over time. The author also uses the device of inserting brief chat room logs from an online support group Kyle joins in his search for a.) peer advice and b.) a girlfriend. While not really necessary to the story, these snippets provide humor, further evidence of just how much Kyle doesn't "get it" yet, and proof that he's not the only one out there to have had an unfortunate run-in with a witch. The wrap-up at the end is a little too pretty and cheesy, but not enough to spoil the success of the whole.
Recommended for slightly older teens who like their romance not too angsty and with a side of magic.
Beastly was also a 2009-2010 Gateway nominee.