19 May, 2014

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman [Emma, Birkenhead Library]

When a young local waitress named Wendy White disappears, everyone in the small town of Haeden, New York, assumes she ran away, or that someone from outside was involved in her disappearance. But one young woman in the town suspects otherwise - Stacey Flynn, local reporter. Flynn's ex-boss calls her a bulldog- she won't let go of an idea, and this time, consequences could be deadly.
Meanwhile, talented teenager Alice Piper is reaching her own conclusions - and they are similar to Flynn's. Alice's observations of boys at her high school and of the workings of society will bring her to disillusionment in her parents hopeful teachings and will influence her subsequent actions. What unfolds is an incredibly suspenseful and disturbing story. Slowly as you read you will piece together what happened in Haeden over one summer, as different people in the town give their impressions. As we hear their testimonies and as the author gradually gives us background on events surrounding those who live there, we can glimpse how this place and its people have come to be this way.
On one level this is a great thriller/mystery. It also brings up issues on gender that really made me think about what I do and don't let pass in day-to-day life. The disturbing thing about this dark story is that Haeden could be any small rural town, and the attitudes of many of the people are not uncommon anywhere. The extent of casually accepted or joked about violence and/or (and this is more insidious) of the claiming of women's bodies by others is embedded in our societies. If we try to gloss over this, we are wrong.  As Alice says, not "beneath the paving stones, the beach", but,"beneath the beach, the paving stones..."

Title : So Much Pretty
Author: Cara Hoffman
Published: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011
ISBN: 9781846059704

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