REVIEW: Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

Such a Pretty Girl deals with an unpleasant subject matter: rape. Let me explain something or give you a little history about me. I’m a fan of crime shows like Cold Case Files ,The First 48 Hours and American Justice on A&E. I picked up Such a Pretty Girl off of an recommendation by a bookseller. She had already warned me that the story had a disturbing subject matter but that it was very good. I had no idea what the subject matter was and cracked it open last night. The first couple of sentences gripped me and clued me in immediately:

“They promised me nine years of safety but only gave me three. Today my time has run out.”

Our protagonist is Meredith Shale and she is 15 years old. She is waiting for her mother to come home with her father, Charles. Her father had been in jail for 3 years before being released on good behavior. He was convicted and incarcerated for child molestation. He had raped Meredith and molested five other boys.  A court order states that her father is to only have supervised visits with Meredith. Therefore, her mother has made arrangements for her father to stay in a nearby condo.

Meredith’s mother, Sharon Shale is in denial. She expects Meredith to forgive her father and return to the loving family that they were three years ago. Understandably, Meredith wants nothing to do with her father. The problem is that Meredith’s a minor with no other options except one: Andy Muese. Andy is her boyfriend and also a victim of her father. His home becomes a haven for her since her father’s return home. However, Andy is also paralyzed. When he was younger, he was considered “accident prone.” One night after graduation the car he was in was hit by a drunk driver. However, his paralysis is more emotional than physical.   Andy and his mother are deeply religious and have decided to drive to Iowa to meet a man who can offer Andy a chance to walk again. However, the timing is bad. Any is leaving just when her father is coming home.

Then there’s retired cop Nigel Balthazar. He was the one of actually arrested her father. Nigel stays around the corner from the Shales and keeps an eye on Meredith. The neighborhood has shunned the Shale family for the past three years. Charles was well loved in the community. He was the high school gym coach. Now, they are outcasts in their own home town. When Charles comes home, things don’t look good for Meredith. Her father has not reformed at all. The story really starts to show how Meredith fights back. The system failed her. Her mother failed her.  Thus, Meredith realizes that she is alone and has to save herself and others who may become potential victims.

Despite the disturbing subject matter, I finished this book in one sitting. The action of the story takes place in 2 to 3 day period. The author uses flashbacks and those were very hard to read. Out of human tragedy comes human triumph over evil. Meredith’s strength and determination to not allow others to become victims of her father is gripping. Four is her safe number. She has her rituals, her tools for strength.  Why would I read such a story? Alas, because it’s painfully true and it happens. The author has done her homework. I’ve always been told that if you knew how other people lived in this world, you couldn’t live yourself. Meredith is a fictional character but I’m sure she exists. I couldn’t read stories like this everyday. There are monsters in this world.  I was ambivalent about posting this book but I thought, why not? It’s your choice to read it nor not to read it. Anyway, this story was beautifully written and painfully real. I couldn’t put it down. I kept turning the pages. Such a Pretty Girl was suspenseful, realistic and gripping. The author just sucked me into this world. However, the ending was a tiny bit too pat but realistic nonetheless. The story also had a religious element to it. I could have done without all the flashbacks but then the book wouldn’t have been what it was without them. Violence like this you don’t want a front seat ticket to watch. Certain scenes, situations were told in bits and pieces. Alas, this is fiction after all. Karin Slaughter’s Kisscut also dealt with this sort of subject matter and I found it equally as gripping and shocking. Such a Pretty Girl was a one time read and not a keeper for me. My grade, B+.   

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16 Responses to REVIEW: Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

  1. Jane says:

    This sounds like a book I would really like. Did you ever pick up What Happened to Cass McBride? I think these dark, painful young adult books are captivating reads.

  2. jmc says:

    I have this ebook, but I haven’t read it yet. I keep opening it on the reader, reading the first couple of pages, then closing it again.

  3. Avid Reader says:

    No, did you review it? I’ll look for it.

  4. jaq says:

    I’ll check this out.

  5. Jane says:

    Yep, I did. I am glad to hear this is an ebook.

  6. Tate says:

    Your review is compelling. I will have to read it. As an incest survivor I would not have chosen to read it before your review.

  7. Alison says:

    I’ve just started reading some YA books, and I’m so impressed with how authors are handling subject matter once never found in stories for younger readers. Off to order …

  8. Azlyn Bestul says:

    I love this book! :wub: I thought it was one of the best books i have read. I did a book review on it for my english class. :w00t: It was suprising how many guys in my class found it interesting. It seems close to my life…in less words :whistle: I could read it over and over agian…what can i say i’m in :heart: with it!
    :silly: AzzyRae :angel:

  9. melissa says:

    i read this book, and i loved it. the ending is amazing and i cried. :]

  10. Misty says:

    Sad. :cwy:

  11. Holly Marie says:

    This was a terrific book and i think that everyone out there who has ever dealt with this should read it or even has a friend who has or is dealing with it. it will help.

  12. Holly Marie says:

    i had to do a book report on this book in my freshman english class and everyone thought it was interesting to hear about. especially a girl in my class who has gone through something like this!!!!!11

  13. Becky says:

    i loooooove this book! i recommend everyone reading it. it grabs your attention wether you want it to or not. I LOVE IT

  14. Monique says:

    Just finished reading it on the train! I have never read an entire book in 2 days! It was hard to put down from beginning to end..I have even found myself reading while walking (ohhh unheard of!) hehe it was well written ….a follow-up perhaps?

  15. Mary says:

    This is an awesome book! Very well written. However, it really disturbed me. I feel slightly scared, now, after reading it. But it really brought up some good issues.

  16. toni says:

    This book sounds very good! I’m a freshman and was looking for a good book to read.
    I like realistic stories like this one it makes me open my eyes and realize there are evil, bad, sick people out there.
    I am planning to read it.

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