Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Read: Such a Pretty Girl


WARNING: Disturbing subjects within.
Such a Pretty Girl
by Laura Wiess
January 2, 2007

Young adult fiction

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. 


Spoilers below!
  
I found this book at the thrift store, tucked inconspicuously between two other young adult novels and boasting a $1 price tag. Upon reading the description and title, I showed the book to Michael with a knowing, pained look. I don't normally reach for books like this. The content is too dark and picks at parts of my brain that I'd rather remain untouched. Something about this one begged me to give it a chance, however, so a chance I gave.

Such a Pretty Girl is written in the first person, placing the reader in the middle of the mind of a fifteen year old girl fighting to keep herself safe in a world stacked against her. The book takes place over a few days following the release of Mer's father from jail. Through tenderly written pages and flashbacks it is revealed that this father, Charles, is a convicted sex offender. What's worse, he targets young children, making him a pedophile. One of his targets? The very girl whose story the book follows. In other words, his own daughter.

Laura Wiess does not shy away from this topic. Instead, she fights it head on, through Mer's angry outbursts and blunt statements about Charles and what he has done. The story is written in present tense, guiding the reader fluidly through the events and thoughts that attack Mer, tearing her mind down to the young 11 year old in a hospital room, begging for it to stop. Wiess approaches these harsher moments with a tender hand while her fast paced writing prevents the reader from becoming overwhelmed. Through Mer's eyes a contradicting view of her father is revealed: the loving guardian who taught her how to throw a baseball; the man who violated her while her mother chose to turn a blind eye. In these few days, Mer is faced with a heartbreaking decision. Either she must escape now and let Charles assault someone new, or sacrifice herself to him yet again in order to put him away for good.

Such a Pretty Girl is a love it or hate it book. For those who can stomach the thought of what is suggested at times and outright stated at others, the book becomes all consuming. Pages fly by and before there is time to process it, everything has ended. The characters, while rather shallow and one dimensional when given a closer look, are written to give Mer -and the reader- exactly what is needed to get through each moment, and any more depth would derail from the fast pace of the novel.

I found it surprising how fast the book sucked me in. In its short 212 pages, I fell in love with Mer and her beautifully broken mind. In the few hours I needed to yank myself from the book, I found myself in a state of cloudiness only experienced after a good read. Where my mind isn't quite with the real world, instead stuck on the pages I was just engulfed in. It wasn't until after I finished the book that I noticed holes in each characters' persona, and some of the gaps in storytelling that would normally bother me. Perhaps that was intended; I have given this book more thought than other similar length novels. The fact that I didn't notice such storytelling errors in the midst of my reading is a testament to Wiess' skill in writing.

While I wouldn't recommend this book to those of the faint of heart, nor would I recommend the price range of $10-12 that it is brand new, it is definitely worth a look if you want a quick read that picks your brain and finishes in a satisfying manner.

9 comments:

  1. I'll need to look for this one. I like that it's a stand-alone and that it's short. And perhaps I'm a sicko but I do like troubled tales like this.

    Nice to see a book review here!

    ~Deb

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    1. I'll send my copy to you in my care package! That way you don't have to search for it and pay full price!

      This year I've read quite a few troubled tales like this and it makes me wonder if I'm finally at a point in my life where I don't mind this type of content.

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    2. Several years ago I read Living Dead Girl, by Elizabeth Scott. That one was quite troubling. A guy had abducted the main girl when she was young, told her all the lies like her family was dead or whatever. He keeps her living with him for years, repeatedly sexually abusing her. It was disturbing for sure but it was a short and quick book. It presented just enough information, quite bluntly, for you to know what was happening without going into long drawn out details. I think it makes it more powerful that way.

      ~Deb

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    3. I completely agree with you on the power of short and quick books. As part of the spouse's book club here, I read two books written by survivors of abduction (A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard, My Story by Elizabeth Smart) and the way in which each book was written detracted from the story in my opinion. The writing style was choppy in crucial places while drawn out in some of the uglier parts. Of course, neither story was written by a skillful author and the stuff actually happened, but it was a hard read because of the writing more so than the content. I kind of expected that same feeling while reading this book and was pleasantly surprised!

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    4. I want to read both of those books some day but they are way low on my list. I had the Jaycee Dugard one in my hands recently but decided not to get it just because I had a ton of other things I wanted to read more. Someday though!

      ~Deb

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  2. Oh keep these book reviews coming! I'm always looking for recommendations so thank you for this one.

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    1. Oh man, I figured my book review was out of the ordinary for my blog but I didn't think it'd warrant this sort of attention from you ladies! <3 I will definitely make more efforts to post book reviews from now on!

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  3. This would be hard for me to read. Especially with my girls being close to that age. But I do love that you did a book review! How cool! Hope you share more with us!

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    1. It was hard when I thought too much about how the story would apply to the lives of those around me. The good thing was it went by too quick for me to dwell on it. Definitely thought provoking, and there are even discussion questions at the back of the book to make you think even deeper into the meaning of the story. I skipped over that LOL
      I will start doing more book reviews since you ladies liked it so much <3

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