Book Review: Pretty Is (Maggie Mitchell)
* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *
Release Date: April 21st 2016
Summary (from Goodreads):
Everyone thought we were dead. What else could they think?
One summer, nearly twenty years ago, two twelve year olds were abducted and kept captive in the forest.
There they formed a bond that could never be broken.
What really happened in the woods that summer?
The thing I really loved about this book is probably the thing most people are going to complain about – but I loved the simplicity of it. Two young girls are kidnapped and spend a summer with a strange man. He doesn’t beat them or abuse them in anyway, and when they are found they go back to their normal lives.
I did expect it to reveal eventually that he had done something unspeakable to them, and I’ll admit a dark part of me kind of wanted that, just to spice things up a bit, but that’s not the twist the book takes. While there are some thriller elements, I’d say this is more of a psychological book, as we see the effect of what happened to the girls, however un-dramatic it may seem compared to what could have happened.
Carly and Louis are adults with separate lives, although you know they are destined to meet up during the book at some point. I was waiting for that and had to be pretty patient – it didn’t happen until the very end, and there wasn’t nearly the dramatic reunion that you might expect. Still, it’s a really interesting story, and I loved seeing the way the strange events of that summer affected the two girls in different ways.
The book is split into sections, one of which is taken from the novel Lois writes about that summer. This was probably the bit I was most excited for, and again, nothing too dramatic really happened, but it was just fascinating to see how the events played out and what they felt as they spent the weeks in a cabin with a rather odd man. I did find the writing style there a bit jarring, as it seemed to jump between different people’s points of view at times – I didn’t know if this was the book trying to say Lois wasn’t that great a novelist, or if it was just the way the author wanted it.
If you’re into action and adventure and a dramatic flair then this book probably isn’t for you – what I loved about it was how understated it felt. You really get to know the characters in great, ugly detail (they’re not always flattering to themselves, but it makes them real people) and it makes you think about a traumatic event like this through the eyes of two survivors, rather than the sensationalised media. It feels so truthful it could easily be based on a true story, and I’d really recommend giving it a read.