Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

Amy mentioned that the three of us (Amy, Carrie, Sarah in case you were confused) were at some point vacationing together this summer.  We were in the Outer Banks for a family gathering, and we had this brilliant idea that we'd all read the same book - related to OBX in some way - and do our posts about the same book; kind of a "here's our summer beach read book" type of thing.  Genius!  It would tie into our vacation and give you three different perspectives on the same book.  Unfortunately, Carrie was the only one who completed the book.  Amy's never showed up in the mail and mine showed up but I just couldn't make myself read it past the prologue.  Not a good sign.  Turns out the book wasn't exactly what we thought it would be and instead we all, happily, read different books during that vacation. This book happens to be what I read then.

I've always had a different interpretation as to what a "beach read" type of book is.  This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I'm a scaredy-pants with an attraction to scary things.  For example, I like scary movies (not horror movies those are just beyond me) of the supernatural or psychological variety.  But I haven't been to see a movie like that since Blair Witch Project because I'm not tough enough to go by myself.  I loved the TV series "Paranormal State" but Sean wouldn't watch it, so I would've had to watch it by myself......which I wasn't brave enough to do.  (I downloaded it on iTunes and then watched the episodes at the gym.  You know, where there are tons of people and very bright lights.  And what ghost/spirit would hang out in a fitness center waiting for the right person to come along and haunt?  And if there was such a ghost/spirit, I'm pretty sure my unattractive workout wardrobe and sweat would've turned them off from following my home anyway.  If A&E had continued this series I'd be in much better shape.)  So I have a tendency to read books that I think might make their way into my dreams in public, brightly lit locations such as the beach.  I read Truman Capote's In Cold Blood in St. Thomas where the bartender kept bringing me drinks and my only worry was saving my fruit from the large iguanas slinking around.  I read Devil in the White City on our honeymoon in Maui where the laid back atmosphere didn't allow for any more distress than mild malaise.  I read Stephen King's latest collection of short stories in Orlando where there couldn't BE any more people and light.  That's how I roll.

So Much Pretty was a good beach read in my estimation.  There's the mystery of a missing girl and plenty of understated fright.  It's set in a small town in New York, where everyone knows everyone else.  It centers around the journalist who is new to town, a brilliant girl with an unconventional upbringing, the girl's parents, the local sheriff, and a girl with long ties to the community who goes missing - switching narrators so the story plays out with different points of view.  I'm not going to say much more about the plot than that (so as not to spoil anything for anyone who may pick this up to read), but it's a slow build to the climax and takes on a lot of territory with an unflattering look at mega-farms and the inherent sexism in some communities.  There were several things about the book that I could easily identify from my own experiences in a small town, but there were also a couple of things that the author and I disagree about on a basic level.  The fright comes not from supernatural or other-worldly occurrences, but is more basic and realistic (and therefore way more frightening) in the idea that one can become, in an instant, an object to be hunted and used rather than a person.  The fear in this thought is more visceral than others.

Cara Hoffman is a journalist and that is evident in her writing style.  The woman running the newspaper is probably the most substantial, for one thing.  Mostly though, it's evident because you'll  learn something from reading the book (whether you want to or not).  There are facts thrown in about crime, crime against women in particular, and environmental conditions of a region I know little about. Diary farmers be prepared to defend yourselves and feminists be prepared to hold a rally.  But the facts are woven into the story.  They are there to move the plot along, not to give someone a soap box (though I'd happily give this woman a milk crate to stand on so she can tell me more about what she learned covering the environmental and physical effects of the Rust Belt's slow demise).  This book doesn't read like an essay or op-ed piece but rather a well-researched piece of fiction.  I recommend it.  Whether you read it on the beach or not is up to you. Pin It


  1. Maybe we should take another stab at our brilliant idea. NFL wives mystery? I kid. But something...maybe?

  2. Clearly it needs to be a real estate book. Home Selling for Dummies perhaps? I want to read Sara's Key....anyone else up for it?

  3. I don't know what Sara's Key is. Sorry.