Heidi's Reviews > Pretty Amy

Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
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's review
Mar 20, 2012

really liked it
Read from May 01 to 04, 2012

Rated 4 stars
“Four Stars: A rocky road for a teenage girl who struggles to find her identity.

It is prom night for Amy. As her mom drops her off, she receives an earful on her poor choices, her bad influence friends and her attitude. Not once does her mother offer any encouraging words or even tells Amy she looks pretty in her dress. No matter, Amy still intends on making this the best night of her life. She, along with the narcissistic Lila and the rebellious Cassie, plan to have a fabulous time at their senior prom. Soon all hopes for a magical date are dashed when Lila's boyfriend fails to show up with his two friends, who are supposed to Amy and Cassie's blind dates. Furious, Lila drags the other two over to Brian's house, only to find out the terrible truth; they have no dates for the big dance. Lila finds a plastic bag stuffed full of pot, which she steals. The girls then try to sneak into their prom but are turned away. The girls smoke the pot and drive around completely stoned, until the cops pull them over and arrest them. Their magical prom night ends with the girls tossed in jail. Bailed out of jail, Amy quickly learns that her life is going to get a whole lot worse and fast. As the turmoil grows, Amy feels that she is alone, cut off from her two best friends, while dealing with parents who don't understand, as well as an unctuous lawyer who tries to force her to turn on her friends. Add in a miserable job at the gas station, expulsion from school during the final two weeks of her senior year, and a possible impending jail sentence, well as you can see Amy is in the middle of a big bad mess. What will happen to this misunderstood teenager as she grapples with these troubling issues?

What I Liked:
*I already mentioned in another review, that I don't often read contemporary fiction. I guess this month has been an exception. I will tell you that the majority of Pretty Amy was rocky for me. You have a story revolving around a protagonist who isn't the most like-able person. Amy chain smokes, and on occasion smokes weed and drinks. She is disrespectful and for the most part has a bad attitude about life. I really didn't feel much sympathy for her either because I felt like she was given so many chances and numerous offers of help but she bats them away, drowning in misery. Yet, I understood why she behaved as she did. Amy is one of those girls who easily gets lost in the crowd. She is desperately fighting to find her identity. She doesn't want to be the simple, unnoticeable girl she was up until her freshman year when she met Lila and Cassie. With these two girls, Amy finds the validation she is craving. She lets go of the boring Amy and becomes the bad girl who smokes and thumbs everyone else. Even though she feels accepted and has two friends, she still lacks her own unique identity, as she allows herself to be a minion to Lila, always acquiescing to Lila's whims. As the story progresses you watch Amy very slowly transform and eventually find her own identity.
*This is a coming of age book that is a very rough ride, but in the end I liked Amy. I liked that the author was able to make me feel a whole range of emotions during this read. Do not pick this up expecting a light, fluffy read centered around prom, it is anything but that.
*I appreciated that the author dealt with some very real and difficult issues as she takes you through all the drama and angst that Amy endures. It isn't pretty, but in the end I loved watching Amy's growth.
*I enjoyed Lisa Burstein's writing style. She tackles troubling topics but she gives Amy a snarky voice, which peps up the book. There are plenty of funny and sarcastic comments peppered throughout the read, which spices it up.

And The Not So Much:
*As I said this book takes on mature issues and Amy often indulges in self destructive behaviors such as drug use and chain smoking. There is also a great deal of cursing. For these reasons, I would strongly recommend this book for older, more mature teenagers. This is not a book for young, very impressionable girls.
*This book was a bit rough for me. I had a hard time in the beginning connecting with Amy, mostly due to her bad attitude and self destructive behavior. The book is definitely a bit slow and has a serious tone. I kept reading because I was holding out hope that Amy would find redemption. I will avoid spoilers, but I am glad I kept reading it. Even though it was a difficult read at times, I learned a great deal and once I finished the story stuck with me.
*One of the most troubling aspects of the novel was the turbulent relationship Amy has with her parents. The mother daughter relationship is extremely strained and very trying. The two are constantly locking horns and tensions run high. Amy's father,on the other hand, is more aloof and hands off, the detached parent. He really loves his daughter but fails to connect with her. Somewhere along the way they forgot how to communicate with one another. The hardest part is that they both really love and care about Amy but they have never given her the positive validation and attention she so desperately craves. At the end, I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a more full resolution. I would really have liked for Amy and her mom to sit down and just talk.
*Joe, I really liked this character but he plays such a small role. He is, for the most part, a background character but he plays a crucial part. I really wanted to know him a bit better.

Pretty Amy, is intense and at times a difficult book. It follows a teenage girl on the brink of adulthood as she makes a critical mistake that sends her life spiraling out of control. Amy must fight to somehow put the pieces back into place, but unfortunately they won't fit like they used to. Amy is forced to find her way and eventually her own true identity. It is an emotional and hard journey, but in the end, it was one I truly appreciated. I would recommend this for mature readers only.

Favorite Quotations:
“I am one of the legions of middle-class white girls who search malls for jeans that make them look thinner, who search drugstores for makeup to wear as a second skin, who are as sexy and exotic as blueberry muffins.”

“If bitching were karate, my mother would be a black belt.”

“When nothing felt like everything.”

“I hated that he knew who I had been before I was me.”

“I thought about saying I was sorry, but I wasn’t even sure what I had done wrong, other than turning into the kind of girl my mother had warned me I would be.”

“Eventually daylight came, not all at once but slowly, like the sky was set on a dimmer switch. The moon and stars finally snuffed out.”

“In high school you are not given a choice as to who you become, you are signe up long before that based on looks, smarts, and talent, and then corralled into your group. The problem was, I didn’t like my group.”

“You do a poll and I would say most people would choose to be somewhere else, doing something else, and if they really had the option, being someone else.”

“I wanted to keep chasing the impossible dream of teenage-girl perfection, even though I was further away from it than I had ever been.”

“When presented with mediocrity or failure, I’d chosen failure. I’d chosen to be the best failure I could be. I guess I’d finally succeeded...”

“You’re acting weird, and not the way you usually act weird. Like, bald Britney Spears weird.”

“I knew the weirdness between us that had begun freshman year had been because we’d started having feelings that scared us, that made us want to pretend we didn’t feel anything at all. That made ignoring each other safer.”

“Unfortunately, I am only myself. I am scared and alone and unsure, but I am practicing. I am scared and alone and unsure, but that doesn’t mean I always will be.”
A big thanks to Heather over at Entangled Publishing for providing me a copy for review purposes.
Posted @ http://rainydayramblings.typepad.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Heather Hi there,

I apologize if you've already reviewed this title on Amazon, but if you haven't, can you please go on there and post your review on there as well?

Thanks so much for all that you do!

~ Heather Riccio, Senior Publicist

Heidi Hi Heather, it is up on Amazon and Shelfari!

Heather Thanks so much! :)

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