Alayne Bushey's Reviews > Such a Pretty Face

Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb
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Jul 19, 10

it was amazing
Read from July 08 to 16, 2010

Stevie Barrett once weighed over 300 pounds. She ate food to smother the grief she felt over the loss of her baby sister, schizophrenic mother, and loving grandparents all within a short time period. She ate to lose herself. She ate to hide. And then she had a heart attack, and eating was no longer the solution if she wanted to survive. Several surgeries and 170 pounds later, Stevie has lost the weight but hasn’t managed to find herself in the process. Such a Pretty Face is the beautiful story of one woman’s search for herself amongst the burden of this thing we call Life.

At times both literary and whimsical, Such a Pretty Face fulfilled my need for a meaty, meaningful story, while also lightening my soul with love and sunshine. It made my heart ache with sadness for Stevie’s childhood and the oppressing reality of schizophrenia, but the flashbacks to her earlier years are followed with laughter as she struggles to keep an outraged divorcee from tearing her ex-husband to shreds.

Lamb’s writing is skillful and exploratory, drifting from inner dialogue to prose and back again. We really get to know Stevie, staying inside her head throughout the full novel, feeling the tide of emotions she is drifting on. With an oppresive uncle, a bulldozing best friend, a mound of medical debt, and a hopeless crush on her neighbor, Stevie is lost in the world and the narrative explores her natural sense of fear, followed by her internal strength and courage to stand up for herself and what she wants.

Overall, Such a Pretty Face is a culmination of fabulous traits from some of my favorite books: a story of family pain and love (Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson), mixed with a woman’s courage and strength (The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens), with a dash of Sarah Addison Allen’s fanciful language thrown in the mix. But most of all, it simply is what it is: a beautifully literary and touching novel by a wonderful writer. I will definitely be reading more of Cathy Lamb in the future.
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