Book Review: Terminally Beautiful by Christy Leigh Stewart

Terminally Beautiful: Christy Leigh Stewart: 9781458343369: Amazon ...

Title: Terminally Beautiful

Author: Christy Leigh Stewart

Genre: Psychological Fiction

Number of Pages: 88

Rating: D-

Recommended?: No


TW: Transphobia, Rape, Suicide


   Warning: This review contains spoilers


Oh boy. This book reminded me once again why I’m extremely wary of self-published novels. Terminally Beautiful is a train wreck, to the point where it actually made me angry that I wasted my time on it, even though I only spent a couple dollars on it on Kindle. The only reason I didn’t give it an F was that it started out seeming like it had potential. At first I thought this novella was a typical ‘rehab drama’ story, until it started to take a bizarre dystopian turn. I like what the author was trying to do here but the execution was just terrible.


The main character in Terminally Beautiful is a hot-mess teenage girl (although this is definitely not a book for teenagers) at some kind of treatment center for troubled teens. It turns out that instead of trying to help Diana (the main character) recover from her body dysmorphia and self-harming behavior, it’s actually encouraging her self-loathing mindset by altering young people with plastic surgeries and tons of medication until they’re ‘fixed.’


One of Diana’s only friends in the clinic is Anna, a transgender girl. The way Anna is portrayed is frankly terrible, I’m not transgender myself but I was angry for people who are. Anna is a horrible person (she takes great amusement out of theorizing about whether institutionalized boys have been raped- or had their ‘butt cherry’ popped, as she puts it) by the way they stand or sit. However, the author decides to make her gender identity disgusting instead, portraying her sex organs with the general feel of a person observing a freak show.


Furthermore, it turns out Anna is a fucked-up cis boy who lied to his parents and said he was trans because he couldn’t possibly have told them he attempted suicide because he was unhappy. His parents were so vacuous they sent him to a clinic immediately to be subjected to a series of gender-related surgeries. The author loves describing the juxtaposition of Anna’s cock and tits, almost as much as she loves going on at length about rape (male rape seems to be her preferred plot point)


The characters are loathsome and worse, they share virtually nothing in common with real people. Their personalities are a disturbing patchwork of neuroses with a good dash of body horror thrown in for good measure. I guess I should have known this book would suck when it opened with a forward by a random guy talking about how ‘authentic’ Christy Leigh Stewart is, I hate to say it but ultimately the joke was on me.

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