Book Review: Pretty by Jillian Lauren

Title: Pretty
Author: Jillian Lauren
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Plume
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: How I got here the long version is a longer story than I want to tell.

Bebe is an ex-addict, ex-Christian, ex-stripper, ex-pretty girl. She is waiting out her time, putting in her hours to finish cosmetology school, living in a halfway house in L.A., trying to stay sober. Her past – a car accident that killed her junkie boyfriend – is always there, written in the scars on her hands and legs. She doesn’t have much to live for, except the idea that she needs to pay penance for Adam’s death. But is that idea enough to keep her going – or will it take something more?

Jillian Lauren is an author who knows how to put words together to evoke a mood, a setting, a state of mind. She writes Bebe’s story as if she’s lived it, and she has filled the pages with characters that seem to have walked right off the streets of Los Angeles. These people are damaged yet beautiful, and their stories are heart-breaking, especially because it is obvious to the reader that most of them will not stay sober, will not have a future any different than their past.

I read this book very quickly, fully invested in Bebe’s story and how it would turn out. As I hit the two-thirds mark, though, I started to weary of how dark the story was. There were moments of grace, but the despair and damage run so deep in Bebe and her friends, that it became painful, and I had to force myself to keep reading.

While I didn’t hate the way the book ended, I did find the ending a bit less than what I hoped for. I don’t know how else to explain my reaction, because I don’t want to give any plot points away, so I’ll just leave it at that.

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7 Responses to Book Review: Pretty by Jillian Lauren

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I met this author at SIBA last year, and while many thought she was fascinating, I didn’t. I can’t even explain my reaction to her, except that I got the heebie jeebies. One thing I can say…she has definitely been around the block so I suspect she is writing a lot of things from direct experience.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sandy – no wonder it seemed so realistic. I was torn when writing this review – on the one hand, she writes very well. But on the other….. I just can’t take the relentless despair.

  2. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    The book sounds compelling even if it is very dark.

  3. Heather
    Twitter: BookAddictHeath

    I have had this one on my shelf for ages, and I do want to get to it eventually. I don’t mind dark books, especially if they seem realistic, but I need my fiction to have some redeeming quality to it. So we’ll see how I feel about this one…

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Heather – It seems realistic to me – but I’ve never been a part of that lifestyle, so I’m only speaking as a reader.

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