Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted here at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc. Everyone is welcome to join in at any time! I include roundups from participating bloggers in my post every week.
Such a Pretty Girl has only been out for three and a half years now, but I kind of get the impression that--similar to Julia Hoban's Willow--it hasn't reached the wider audience it deserves as a result of its somewhat disturbing subject matter. I know I held off picking it up for awhile. Well, make that several days. I would have gone longer, I'm sure, but I read two absolutely stellar reviews of it and wanted to try it so bad. However, I have a very hard time reading stories about child abuse. I haven't the stomach for it and I tend to emerge so much the worse for wear that I can't make a habit of them. However. Something about the tone of these reviews (I wish I could remember whose they were) encouraged me. So I made a silent agreement with myself that if my library had it, I would go ahead and read it. And wouldn't you know it, it did have it. And this ended up being another case of me running out to buy the book before I'd even finished my library copy. It was that good. And this all happened within the space of one 24-hour period, as this slender volume clocks in at a scant 224 pages. But I'm telling you, Laura Wiess knows how to make every word count. It instantly snagged a spot on my Beloved Bookshelf and I think about it and Meredith often.
Meredith Shale thought she'd have longer to prepare. She thought her father would be locked away for nine years. That's what his sentence read. But after serving three years in prison for child abuse, he's released on good behavior. And he's coming home. Her mother, who never got over her father being gone, is ready to welcome him home with open arms. Meredith's reaction is just a little bit different. At fifteen, she thought she'd be able to reach her eighteenth birthday and leave home, thus avoiding ever having to see him again. But now he's back living in the same apartment complex. And Meredith has no one but her best friend Andy and retired cop Nigel to turn to when her anger and fear threaten to overwhelm her. But Nigel can't always be right there when she needs him. And Andy, who is confined to his wheelchair and not so incidentally had his own brush with Mer's father, really does have his own set of messy issues to deal with as much as he loves and wants to protect Meredith. When the unthinkable first happened, no one believed her. And the horror spread to other kids as a result. In the years since her father was incarcerated, Meredith has acquired several coping mechanisms for dealing with what happened to her. From her strict vitamin-taking regimen to her obsession with prime numbers, everything in her life has its place. Now that he's out, even on parole, she abhors the idea of seeing him, doesn't believe for a second his claims of reformation, and is determined no one else will ever suffer at his hands the way she did again.