Arminzerella's Reviews > Such a Pretty Girl

Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
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Meredith, age fourteen, learns that her father has been released from jail – several years early. Her mom is ecstatic (and in serious denial), but Meredith is sick to her stomach. Her father went to jail three years ago for sexually abusing her and several other children in town. She thought she would be safe from him, and then safely away from him (she’d be eighteen by the time he was supposed to have been released), before this happened. Not only is he getting out, but he’s also going to be living in the same apartment complex as Meredith and her mother – and knowing mom, he’s going to be spending most of his time at their place (no matter that he’ll be violating his parole).

As soon as Meredith sees her father again she knows that nothing has changed. He doesn’t regret his actions of the past – only the time he’s lost being away from her while he was in jail. Her life is about to become a nightmare again and there doesn’t seem to be anything she can do to ensure her own safety. Mom won’t acknowledge what happened (and would choose her husband over her daughter in any case), her best friend Andy and his mother are going away and won’t be there for her, and she doesn’t have any legal recourse unless her father does something specifically wrong – like abusing her again.

Meredith briefly considers running away, or living with her grandmother, but knows that she’ll only be living in fear of her father finding her somehow. In addition, she knows that if he can’t have her, he will go after other children, and she couldn’t live with herself if she can prevent him from abusing and ruining the lives of countless other kids. So, with the help of a policeman friend, Meredith rigs up some hidden cameras and decides to catch dad in the act.

It’s a horrible and desperate plot/situation. If this is what real victims of sexual abuse find themselves faced with on a regular basis, then the abusers AND society have a LOT to answer for. This selfless act that Meredith performs – endangering her fragile mental state further just to stop the man who should have been kept away from her and other children permanently – should never have been an option. Children should never have to experience sexual abuse and should never have to combat it on their own.

This story managed to infuriate me even though I felt that the plot was obvious and contrived. Of course dad wouldn’t have changed. Of course Meredith was going to end up in the worst position possible. Of course he was going to do it again. I hate it when I’m right. This is fiction, but it’s easy to imagine that this sort of thing happens all the time – what with prisons being overcrowded, and caregivers caring more about themselves and their desires than the ones they’re supposed to keep safe. It’s maddeningly frustrating. And for that reason, and because this particular story gets you *right there* it’s an important one.

There’s a reader’s guide appended and, oddly enough, a link to a sex-offenders site. But I think even more useful might be information and links to sites about sexual abuse, and resources for combating it. It’s not, after all, just knowing *who* the sex-offenders are, but knowing what to *do* about sexual abuse.
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♥ Ashleigh ♥  contrary to popular belief i'm not actually mad! Great review. Sad such things occur in real life.

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