Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review: Pretty Baby

By Melissa Amster

I had been hearing good things about Pretty Baby, Mary Kubica's sophomore novel. Needless to say, I was intrigued. When I found out she was going to be signing copies at BEA, I made sure to schedule that into my day. And yes, it was worth waiting in line for!

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head…

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.
(Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

Similar to what those memes say, "I don't always read psychological thrillers, but when I do, I make sure they are related to women's fiction." Pretty Baby definitely fits into this category. It's not just about the act of kindness Heidi exhibits, but also about Heidi's past and what drives her to help Willow and her baby. And then we get to Willow's story, which is just crazy and horrifying, but also impossible to break away from. I almost wish Willow told the entire story because I really liked her "voice." If this is another sign I should be more open to YA novels, then so be it! (She's a teenager more than a "young woman.")

Mary Kubica writes in a way that compounds a heartbreaking situation, making it feel so real. She also makes her villains more evil and hateful than I've seen in a while from a book. I felt equally sympathetic toward Willow and Heidi, as both their situations were really sad. I don't want to give away too much though. I was able to figure out a few things on my own as the story came together, but there were still other surprises in store. Some things I would have liked to see are an epilogue for Heidi and Chris and chapters from their daughter Zoe's point of view.

I recommend Pretty Baby to anyone who wants a good edge-of-your-seat nail-biter. I'm excited to read The Good Girl soon, as I recently couldn't resist buying it!

Some casting ideas:
Heidi: Amy Adams
Chris: Jeremy Sisto
Willow: Mae Whitman (If she could play a teenager in The DUFF earlier this year, then why not? I kept picturing her in this role.)
Cassidy: Jena Sims

Thanks to MIRA (care of Book Expo America) for the book in exchange for an honest review.


Janine said...

Great review

So many books, so little time said...

Great review, I liked it but didn't love it. Will certainly read anything else she comes out with though :)