Book Review: Beautiful Pain by Joanna Mazurikiewicz

December 07, 2015



My decisions were always wrong. I needed to get away from London, I wanted to start from scratch in Belfast, escape from the life that I didn’t want.

Working for Probation Service for the whole summer was going to give me the experience that I needed. I always felt much better when I could help people whose lives were shattered.

My parents told me that I wasn't ready and I wouldn't make it through but I was determined to show them that the past was behind me.

I had three months to forget about my bad memories, about the pain and my scars. Then I run straight into him, throwing it all to the wind, falling into a trap of love and lust.

Harry O’Donaghue was a local offender. At our first meeting he gave me the impression that he didn’t care about what I had to say and didn’t want to be evaluated by a stupid young girl like me.

Harry wasn’t an easy subject, either when it came to straight forward conversation about his future or about the crimes that he had committed.

Harry had a secret and everything suddenly became complicated. He was bad to be around, bad for me in every respect, but I still allowed him take me to paradise…

Beautiful Pain by Joanna Mazurikiewicz is a story about a woman who has struggled with anxiety and the feeling of imperfection since she was sixteen-years-old. That was when her life fell apart and she turned to self-harm to feel peace and a loosening of her perpetual anxiety.

Sophia has always been a good and obedient daughter, but it is the summer before her final year of university, and she’s decided that she doesn’t want to do what her parents’ want her to do. Rejecting her father’s demand to work at his firm for the summer, Sophia finds herself a three-month posting in Belfast’s Probationary Services—giving her the time to gain her confidence without her parents’ breathing down her neck.

On her first day of shadowing a work colleague, Sophia meets Harry—a bad-boy with a soft Irish lilt to his voice that instantly takes a disliking to Sophia. The animosity between them is palpable, and Sophie regrets the day that she’ll have to have him in her case load. But what Sophia doesn’t know is that Harry doesn’t dislike her; he is instantly attracted to her. 

The more closely Sophia works with Harry, the more she gets to know him, and the more she realizes that being in his company and having his touch calms her frayed nerves and helps to keep her buoyant against the tide of anxiety that sometimes creeps up on her expectantly. 

Knowing that he’s bad for her, Sophia’s opinion is cemented when she sees Harry involved in a drug deal. Torn between wanting him and doing the right thing, Harry convinces her to get to know him a little better so she can understand him and why he’s doing what he’s doing. 

Their relationship blooms and flourishes with Sophia letting Harry know more and more about her dark and haunted past. She lets him see her scars after a horrific accident threatens to tear them apart, and it’s this honesty and baring of her soul that lets her see just how much Harry means to her.

A cruel twist of fate separates them, and despite Sophia’s best efforts to protect Harry and his family, she can see no way out of the situation. She chooses to protect him and sacrifice her own happiness until a solution she didn’t think was possible presents itself. 

I found myself unable to put this book down despite the grammatical and spelling inconsistencies. I had a connection with Sophia and her determination to live her life the way she wants to. Sophia and Harry’s relationship may have started off rocky, but the chemistry between them is real. I liked the fact that Sophia had integrity and thought about the repercussions of her and Harry’s relationship, knowing that her whole career would be jeopardized should they ever be found out. And even then, she’s willing to give it all up because of how Harry makes her feel: calm and in control.

I’m giving this book three stars as the stilted language and lack of contraction is speech detracted from the writing style. And it was this underdeveloped writing style that stopped me from enjoying it more. The plot, storyline and pacing was great; it was just the delivery that let it down. I would have also liked to have seen some clearer distinctions between the present and flashbacks Sophia had about her past. Without a change in font or tense, I found it difficult to follow the storyline in some places.  

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