Friday, May 22, 2009

Such a Pretty Girl Review

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Weiss


Meredith's father is a equal opportunity molester. He'll sexually abuse little boys, girls and even his own daughter. Three years ago, Meredith sat up in court and told her story in order to put her father away in prison. Now, her father is being released and despite all of the court restrictions and legal documents, Meredith's father is coming home.

This was a surprisingly fast read although it is a dark and scary book. The book only covers a few days but you get the full sense of the terrifying things that happened to Meredith before and after her father's arrest. Meredith sees her father as a monster and there is no evidence to the contrary. There is no telling how many kids he has harmed. The community shuns him and Meredith by association, even though she is just as much of a victim. Perhaps the scariest character in this novel is Meredith's mother. She's obsessed with keeping her husband, Meredith's father, happy and willing to turn a blind eye to whatever he is doing to Meredith. Even after the trial, she refuses to believe the truth that her husband is a sex offender and leaves Meredith alone with him just so the abuse can start all over again.

It certainly seems like there is no hope, no help for Meredith, trapped in this life with her father, only 15, there's no real for her to get out. Also trapped is Meredith's boyfriend, Andy, who is paralyzed from the waist down and also an alcoholic. He lives in a dark condo near Meredith where his mother prays for his recovery night and day. Meredith has Andy as a source of support but it is not a permanent solution.

The thing that will keep you reading this story where everything that happens to Meredith is so frustrating and wrong and unthinkable is Meredith's strength. She is fully aware during the story and you get a real sense of all of her conflicting thoughts and feelings. Somehow she is able to navigate through all the horrors in her life and then pushes the story along.

The flashbacks are scattered throughout the story and very useful to seeing how this all started for Meredith and to help explain how her past has shaped her state of mind in the present. One unusual aspect about the flashbacks was that they were written in present tense, just like the rest of the story, but set off in italics it really works and adds to the sense of urgency of the whole novel.

The characters and unflinchingly real. There are no heroes on white horses coming to share Meredith. The adults surrounding her have their own flaws, including inaction. Meredith keeps her own with all of them. Some of the banter is quite sophisticated. Then again, Meredith is a girl who is much older than her years.

This is an important book because it does not sugarcoat or gloss over anything that happens to Meredith. Her situation may seem extreme or unrealistic but it's something that happens way more often than it should. Such a Pretty Girl highlights these horrible circumstances but also gives us hope. If you want to experience a deeply felt novel, I suggest you read this one.


  1. I'm reading Laura's next book so hopefully it'll be as good as how "Such a Pretty Girl" was!

  2. Such a Pretty Girl has to be one of my favorite books ever, it's so eye-opening! Laura Wiess was so amazing and brave to tackle such a topic and she did it so well.

    Great review!

  3. I've only found out about this book recently and I'm hooked. All of Laura Wiess books seem to sound really dark. I like that.

  4. This was good I finally picked it up last year Summer if you haven't already you should read Push by Sapphire.

  5. I was going to buy this the other day but put it down for something else. Shame on me, I loved your review. I'll definitely be picking this up!

  6. This was a dark book that showed the realistic portrayal of Meredith's situation--especially with the mother taking the abuser's side. This happens more than we think. I liked this novel. Her other novel, "Leftovers" is just as dark but just as good.