Review: Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss

Get pumped for the interview with Lisa Burstein, author of Pretty Amy, on Friday!  

title:  Such a Pretty Girl

author: Laura Weiss

pages: 212

format: Paperback

isbn/asin: 978-1416521839

buy it: Amazon

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 7/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans of Ellen Hopkins, John Green, and Jay Asher. Teens going through rough times. Parents of teens going through rough times. People who enjoy strong narrative voice and fast-paced plot.

They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out.

the basics
I picked this book up on a whim during my "let's read about serious scary issues" kick.  Amazon recommended it to people buying Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.  So I gave it a chance, and I'm glad I did.  Meredith breaks off every page with a strong voice that makes her feel instantly alive and present.  We live her horrors through her current actions and snippets of memory, which are weaved together in a truly clever way to show the continuation between past and present, and future.  Her writing is poetic sometimes, other times fiery and emotional.  The side characters are all well fleshed out and believable.  My main issue with this book was its shortness; the plot picks up quick and you're thrown through a whirlwind in just a short amount of days.  It feels a little too fast.  However, the story really stuck with me and I highly recommend it.

plot . 5/5
We begin where Meredith's father's prison sentence ends.  Relationships have already been formed.  A ton has already happened.  Meredith is already in love with Andy, cared for by the old cop down the road, resented by her mother.  There's a lot of baggage to dive into when you start.  It makes it a little overwhelming, but in a good way.  You pick up the past while you read through snippets of memories.  It's a great way of seeing exactly how the past has affected Meredith's present, moment by moment.  My only snipe is that it goes quick.  As soon as Meredith's father returns, he's back to his old tricks.  I was hoping for something a little more slow-moving and sinister, I guess.

concept . 5/5
You see a lot of media around the offense.  The initial victimization.  The process of catching the criminal.  Well, what happens when the criminal doesn't stay caught?  Here we get the story of the aftermath.  How the victims deal when their tormentor is back on the streets and back in their lives.  It's a forgotten part of the puzzle and Weiss deals with it in a way that's neither exploitative nor histrionic.  It's something that could happen in any case like this, and starting a story at this point is a fresh idea.

characters . 5/5
They're really the strongest part of this book, besides maybe style.  Meredith is strong despite her broken mind.  She puts herself through hell to stop her father from hurting more children, even though she aches to run.  She struggles with trusting others in an environment where her father has raped her and her mother is blind and blaming.  You see the aftereffects of her torture in her obsession with numbers, in her quirks and observations.  But she's more than her past, too.  Honestly, I wish I could read more about her.  The side characters were just as interesting and multifaceted.  There's Andy, her fellow victim and boyfriend who struggles with his own torment and paralysis.  Andy's mom, the religious devotee who has given her life and looks to revenge.  The cop, who helps Meredith take matters into her own hands.  The mother who blames her daughter for stealing her husband's love.  You feel like you've been dropped into someone's real hell, not a book.

style . 5/5
Adore adore adore.  Weiss has a lot of literary flair.  Her narrative is in Meredith's voice, first person, and structured around two main things: memories and numbers, both of which define Meredith's life.  This means that it gets a little philosophical, but you also get to see exactly how the rape has changed Meredith's perspective on living.  It's also present tense.  Which I usually hate.  Only I almost forgot that, thinking back, because it was so fluid and well-written that it never bothered me.  In fact, it made her story seem even more present and real.  There is some beautiful language here, and very thought-provoking observations about life, God, faith, and cruelty.

mechanics . 5/5
The switch between memories and present scenes was genius.  Sometimes they'd flow into each other, with the last line of the memory continuing into the first line of the present.  It made it so clear how much the past has shaped Meredith's present in such a concrete way.  Love!

take home message
A striking account of the aftermath of abuse, and one victim's quest to become more than a victim.

Note: I purchased this copy. The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

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