Publisher's Note:  

Set in a rural community steeped in silence and denial, So Much Pretty explores all parents’ greatest fear, that their child will be hurt. But it also examines a second, equally troubling question: What if my child hurts someone else? The disappearance and murder of nineteen-year-old Wendy White is detailed through the eyes of journalist Stacy Flynn and a host of other richly drawn characters, each with their own secrets and convictions. After Wendy’s body is found, Flynn’s intense crusade to expose a killer draws the attention of a precocious local girl, Alice Piper, whose story intertwines with Wendy’s in a spellbinding and unexpected climax.

So Much Pretty: A Novel

by Cara Hoffman

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Overall Review:  

If you have recently finished The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl, and are waiting for the next best-seller mystery to be written, then this book is for you. Although the cover of this book looks innocent enough, don't let it trick you; be ready for a dark and twisted tale, every bit as intriguing as the titles mentioned above.

Having grown up in a small town, I knew where the main characters were coming from. Wendy and Alice aren't even in the same grade, but they "know" each other well enough. They know how many kids are in the other's family, and where their parents work. Although they may have never even spoken to each other, they know the basics. They both were born in Haeden, have lived in Haeden, and want to escape Haeden. Haeden New York isn't a bad town; it just isn't much of a town. It is every graduates dream to go to college and get a job in the city, or move out of state. No one wants to spend their whole life there. Can you relate?

Although much of this story was kind of typical and predictable, the very ending was not. I don't know what I was expecting, but certainly not the bomb that is dropped. Somehow, by some magic, the book is going along at a fast clip, and then, just when you think you know the whole story, the author takes all of the subtle hints, clues, and breadcrumbs she has been tossing out along the way, and starts all over. I was a little lost, I'll admit, but I enjoyed the excitement and scariness of having to figure out just what was going on. This book is one that will have you reading it until you are on the very last page, and realize you haven't had lunch and it's 4:00. It's just that good.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  11 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 4 religious profanities; 5 derogatory names; 38 scatological words; 4 anatomical terms; 40 F-Word derivatives

Violence/Gore:  A minor is mentioned to be missing; a missing minor's body is found dead in woods; rape, violence, and abduction are mentioned in reference to a crime that occurred; a murder is suspected; a hypothetical suicide by drowning is mentioned; a dead body is discovered and described in gory detail; bullying is mentioned to occur; a book is read by a character and violence is mentioned to occur (beatings, abuse); a creepy scene occurs when two men hold a woman captive before killing her; a school shooting is described in detail over several pages, many casualties and injuries occur; a minor is suspected to have shot students; dead bodies are seen by students, minors are killed.

Sex/Nudity:  A woman's breasts are referred to in a derogatory way; adult men flirt with a college-age girl; a girl references an occurrence of being touched sexually by an adult man; a man's sexual anatomy is mentioned; an adult couple is mentioned to make love; sexual assault is implied; a minor boy and girl who are friends bathe together, this is not a sexual scene; "getting laid" and "getting action" is referred to; an adult couple has sex in one briefly descriptive scene (a woman describes how the encounter feels, the kisses and caresses); a teacher is accused of sexually molesting students; a girl is mentioned to get pregnant in college and is referred to as a prostitute and a whore; adults kiss multiple times; a character is referred to as "sexy", sex is spoken about in several mature discussions.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, murder, crime, personal crises, mental instability, pregnancy out of wedlock, school shooting.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults drink; adults smoke; an adult is mentioned to be drunk; an overdose is mentioned; crackheads are referred to; a meth lab is mentioned; a minor smokes.

Reviewed By Lydia
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