"They promised me nine years of safety but only gave me three. Today my time has run out" (p 1).
Now that I've flashed you back to the second season of Grey's Anatomy, isn't that a freakin' awesome first line? Doesn't it just make CHILLS run up your back? Doesn't it make you want to check on your young loved ones? I'm not normally a girl who enjoys (odd word choice) children-in-peril novels, but Laura Wiess' Such A Pretty Girl doesn't let up after that first riveting sentence. It's awful, and you know it's going to get worse, but THIS Meredith isn't going to let her father mess her up any more than he already has. THIS Meredith is going to make sure he doesn't hurt any other kids. THIS Meredith is going to fight back.
And it's going to be hard. Really hard.
It's the mother that actually seems the most cruel. She knows what happened, what is happening, what will happen, but she's so damaged and self-centered herself, that she refuses to admit the truth. Out of her selfish need, she places Mer in danger repeatedly and without remorse. It is ASTONISHING what "falls through the cracks" of a society that is supposed to protect. It's even ironically pointed out that Mer's father got out early due to good behavior. Which would be obvious, as there weren't any children to abuse in prison. Yes, altogether now, *gasp*
It's a fast-paced quick read. And while it lacks some subtlety, it possesses latent themes that come out in the last few chapters, cleverly connecting some elements throughout the book. I was intrigued by the religious subplot, but I didn't entirely buy it. It should be popular.
Regina Starace did the cover design. I think she captured the book with such simple, chilling elegance. Not to state the obvious or anything, but the state of the rose reflects Mer's state of mind, and the fact that roses play a small part of the book, well, it's always nice to see covers that show artists do read the book. Or are at least briefed well. ;)
I'm sure you can give this to the teen girls who like to torture themselves with titles like A Child Called It, but you can also hand this off to fans of Speak, Sarah Dessen, and definitely, The Rules of Survival. I'm sure you've got your own list of kid-in-peril books to add it to, so I'll stop there.
Real quick: I love MTV books. I'm astonished at the fact, but they are consistently, not only solidly written, but completely accessible for their audience. I've yet to read one that talks down, and they aren't overly commercialized as I would have assumed. I also like that they've gotten away from their cheap looking branding with this title. Especially due to the subject matter. That is all.