Thursday, April 07, 2011

Review: Such a Pretty Girl

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Goodreads description:

With her father imprisoned, 15-year-old Meredith thinks she could live out her high-school days safely, but when he is released early for good behavior, her security is shattered. A popular youth baseball coach, her father has abused Mer as well as other boys and girls. With strict orders that he not be left alone with his daughter, he is returned to the condo complex where she and her mother live. In contrast to Mer's terror, her mother is giddy with delight at his return, and together the reunited couple plans to conceive another child. Yet in the shadows and stillness, Mer's nightmare begins anew.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I can't help but compare this book to Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott (review) - both are about abuse and are totally heartbreaking. While Living Dead Girl was shocking and horrifying, I felt that this one was even more emotional, more personal, as in this case, it's Meredith's own father who abuses her, which is even more messed-up and sick - I just can't get my head around how someone could do that to their own daughter. Of course I knew before reading this book that these things happen, but the descriptions in this book made it all the more real for me. The worst parts aren't even described, but still...That whole storyline was heartbreaking, especially during the flashbacks; how innnocent, young Meredith trusted her father, and how he took advantage of her like that...I don't even want to think about it anymore.

Laura Wiess's writing is beautiful and captivating - she had me from the very first page. Especially the metaphors were great, and I loved how Meredith talked about numbers and their meaning so often. There were so many rich metaphors in this book, I couldn't even get all of them the first time reading this - and Such a Pretty Girl is definitely a book I could read again without being bored at all.

The characters were pretty good. I felt all of Meredith's feelings, her fear and her sadness. I don't want to say I could relate to her, as I don't have any experiences even close to hers, but I could definitely understand her. It feels wrong for me to criticize such technicalities in such a great, important, emotional book, but one thing I didn't like was that the reader never got to know all that much about Meredith as a person, her personality and interests. Maybe this was to show how her fear of her father consumed all of her and made a normal life impossible, but I think we could have heard a bit more about her as a "normal" girl from the time her father was locked up and she was safe.

The secondary characters were pretty good as well - I loved the complexity of Andy's character, and thought that his connection to Meredith and their backstory added a lot to the main plot. I'm not sure what to make of the mom's character - I felt sorry for her at times and understood she just wanted her husband to love her, but mostly, I was shocked at how much she sacrificed for her child-abusing husband, and thought it was incredibly harsh how she blamed Meredith for telling the police about her father, and how she told her flat-out that if she had to chose between him and her, she'd choose him.

The one problem I had with this novel was the dialogue. I don't even know what it was about the dialogue, but it just sounded strange, fake. Especially when Meredith spoke, it sounded more like inner thoughts than something you'd say to other people.

Don't say I didn't warn you - this book is horrifying, heartbreaking and at times plain disgusting. If you think you can handle that, though, I definitely recommend Such a Pretty Girl to you - the writing is amazing, and the book has an important message. It's definitely worth reading!


  1. I've heard a lot of good things about this book. I kind of want to read it, but it sounds so sick and twisted that I'm just not sure. Great review though :) By the way It's Kind of a Funny Story is a great book. I hope you enjoy it!

  2. i liked this one a lot too. i read it a few years back, and your review brought some of the highlights flooding back. what an intense, emotional, yet totally worthwhile read.

  3. Wow, this one sounds super intense. Things like this really do happen though. Maybe I'll try this one out. Thanks for the review!


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