Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell

Title: Pretty Is
Author: Maggie Mitchell
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publish Date: July 7, 2015 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still."

My Two Cents:

In "Pretty Is," Lois can't help but to dwell on her past. When she was young, she was kidnapped along with another girl, Carly May.  Lois was a spelling bee champ and Carly made was a pageant queen. They were very different but had the kidnapping in common. Now Lois is an adult and a professor at a college and is haunted by her past. Lois and Carly May have nothing to do with each other until circumstances of Lois' making puts them back in contact with each other. The past is now staring them in the eyes!

This book had a wholly original story that kept me engaged from the very beginning. The book starts out as a "ripped from the headlines" story of a child kidnapping. The way that the author tells this story makes this book more than just a retread of some of the other kidnapping stories that have been told before. The book is told from the perspective of Lois and Carly May. They both tell what they remember and because their remembrances don't quite gel, both of them felt like an rain liable narrator, a featured that I love in a book. It always keeps me on my toes!

Both of the characters are were very interesting to me and I loved seeing things from both of their perspectives. Lois has never really let go of what happened to her and Carly May. She wonders constantly about what happened to Carly May after they were freed. Carly May disappears and creates a new persona for herself, content to leave the past behind. Lois forces her to confront it! I thought it was so interesting how these two people who went through something so dramatic as a young kid coped with things so differently.

In order to enjoy this book fully, you have to be OK with things not being totally concluded by the end. Lois and Carly May are not reunited until towards the end of the book. I wish that they would've been able to come together sooner so that there was a little bit more of a concreteness to the answers that they find. However, overall I enjoyed their original storyline and the characters and would love to read more by this author.



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