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The Pretty Place

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Ivy Marshall wasn't expecting the summer before starting high school to end the way it did. She had so many plans, from exploring the sprawling back fields of her town with her best friend, Robyn, to swimming in the muddy waters of Lake Scugog. Becoming the neighbourhood outcast when her mother became ill didn't quite fit into her itinerary. Ivy hadn't anticipated that the summer would bring death-so somewhere along the way, she decided it never had.

Almost two decades later, Ivy's buried secret still follows her around everywhere she goes, affecting every misguided decision she makes as an adult, silently weighing down each step she takes away from her little town. The Pretty Place, her childhood refuge, harbours tragedy just beneath the surface, but only there can she unearth the truth.

The Pretty Place is a dark, comedic, coming-of-age novel that illuminates the importance of mental health awareness and acceptance while reminding us all of how powerful the mind can be-even in the absence of remembrance.

270 pages, Hardcover

Published November 30, 2020

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About the author

Laura Leslie

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5 stars
33 (71%)
4 stars
9 (19%)
3 stars
1 (2%)
2 stars
1 (2%)
1 star
2 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews
January 5, 2021
This book was well written, riveting and a great read! It sure had me hooked. Living in Durham, I felt a connection to the area and the author. The story of a young girl and an unforgettable summer, the lessons learned, mental illness and alcoholism and broken fragments of life.....intriguing. I couldn’t put it down!
1 review
December 30, 2020
I did not want to put this book down. The Pretty Place was such a fun read as the author had me laughing out loud through all of its witty narrative despite the gravity of the storyline. This book is easily relatable in one way or another, and it has a plot twist that will both lead you and leave you in suspense from beginning to end.
1 review1 follower
December 22, 2020
Very good read, couldn’t put this book down!
1 review1 follower
December 15, 2020
Impressive debut novel. Complex and beautifully descriptive, takes you right into the heart of small-town Ontario. The plot keeps you guessing right until the end. Definitely worth a read!
1 review
December 11, 2020
This is a MUST READ book that will keep you guessing. I could not put it down. I loved the main character, the setting and the nostalgia. It manages to be hilarious while touching on poignant issues like mental health - all while set in my favourite decades! This was an amazing debut novel and I cannot wait to see what this author does next.
December 11, 2020
I have really enjoyed reading this debut novel from beginning to end! I love the story and how it kept me on my toes. There’s a little bit of everything in this book, from laughter to sadness and everything in between! A definite must read!!
1 review
December 11, 2020
This book keeps you turning the pages. The author has the ability to put you in her place and keep you with her throughout the book. A great read with a twist.Looking forward to her next work!
December 12, 2020
This book has everything! Suspense, mystery, comedy and drama! I couldn’t put it down and never knew what was coming next. A must read!
1 review
December 11, 2020
This book is an incredible debut novel written by an author who has put her heart and soul into every last word. If you like coming of age novels with a suspenseful twist you'll love this. Must read for sure!!!
Profile Image for Andy Sanchez.
1 review
February 2, 2021
I am a sucker for a coming of age story and this book just had so much nostalgia for me. The author transported me to a familiar place and time and once I started to get comfortable I was sent down a winding road with unexpected and exciting turns. The story is a unique mix; clever, funny, and suspenseful. It’s a hidden gem.
3 reviews
February 26, 2021
This book was very well written and the descriptions really felt like you were present in the moment. An enjoyable easy read with hooks and twists that kept you interested from start to finish. I think anyone could find things to relate to in this book and I would highly recommended reading it. I really enjoyed the touch on mental/ emotional health and hope it helps raise some awareness and de stigmatize mental illness.
1 review1 follower
February 26, 2021
A really great coming of age story! Every spot, sound, and smell is described with such vivid imagery that you can imagine yourself within every page of the book. Positively poetic at times and absolutely heartbreaking at others. Just when you think you may have the characters figured out, a few well-placed twists and turns come around. Will definitely be put in the pile to re-read sometime soon!
March 19, 2021
Make sure you block out some time for this one, as this novel becomes “unputdownable” quickly! I loved delving into Ivy’s mind and getting wrapped up in her conflicting and relatable thoughts. The family drama had me intrigued and feeling a myriad of emotions. As a fellow Ontarian, I loved the small town Canadian details and Leslie’s descriptions are vivid. Though often uncomfortable and sad, I rooted for Ivy and her family to come together... and I enjoyed the surprises that hit me along the way. This is a novel I keep recommending over and over to friends and family. Go enjoy!
1 review
March 22, 2021
Amazing read! Was hooked and invested in the characters right from the beginning. The writing is clever, engaging, and entertaining with metaphors and descriptions being so spot on. Highly recommend and can’t wait for future books from this author!
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2 reviews
April 10, 2021
This was one of the most captivating books I’ve ever read! Incredibly well written, and filled with so much emotion. Such an incredible novel, I would highly recommend reading it!
1 review
March 25, 2021
I really enjoyed this novel, I love reading books from Ontario. Loved the twist at the end and the focus on mental health 💙
1 review
March 24, 2021
Amazing debut novel!! The author did an excellent job with a detailed and exciting storyline. Allowing humor and real matters to coexist. I looked forward to her next masterpiece!
1 review
February 23, 2021
This was a fantastic novel, I couldn’t put it down. Very descriptive, you feel as if you are right there with the main character. A definite must-read!!
February 15, 2021
The pretty place was such a pleasure to read. Very well written and really hits close to home having grown up close to the town the book takes place in. It was definitely a page turner and hard to put down! Would highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for a read that incorporates comedy and mystery!
1 review
February 14, 2021
This book was recommended to me by a friend. I really enjoyed the humour and time period!
I had to read the last 12 chapters until the end, was suspenseful and not predictable. Loved the twists and turns. Laughed and cried. Great 3 day read.
1 review
January 21, 2021
This book's cover caught my attention and was so pleased that it did.
It manages to include humour and wit, while dealing with very sensitive issues.
Ivy (main) character was very engaging and believable. This dark, suspenseful tale challenges us to understand the complexity of mental illness without preconceived judgements.
I would highly recommend this read!
Profile Image for Lauren McCabe.
61 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2021
When I started reading The Pretty Place I loved Ivy, the main character who reminded me of my teenaged self. I loved the setting- Lake Scugog in Ontario, Canada. I loved the pop culture references from the late 90’s. The xennial in me was here for all of the Oasis, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Counting Crows and Britney Spears references.

Now that I have finished the book, I love it for so many more reasons. I did not expect The Pretty Place to be this complex, touching, startling and multi-layered. I didn’t expect it would dive into mental illness and trauma so deeply, darkly and accurately. I didn’t think that Ivy, the character I love, would be depicted so humanly and also so flawed.

The Pretty Place jumps back and forth from the late 90’s to the present day. This kept me fully engaged and on my toes. Laura Leslie’s descriptions appealed to all of my senses and I could see the scenes unfold as if it were a movie. Likewise, the word choice as Ivy speaks as a teen and then in her twenties and thirties really shows where Ivy is in her life, both emotionally and developmentally.

Five Stars for this incredible novel. Laura Leslie- thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of art with us. @theprettyplacenovel is a must read!!

2 reviews
May 24, 2021
Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming. A raw story about mental health and a family captive in its grip. It also shares a story of the different types of love between family members. I was particularly draw to Isaac and Ivy's brother/sister relationship. I'm sure any reader will find elements of their own truth woven throughout this novel. Highly recommend.
1 review
June 12, 2021
The pretty place was a perfect novel to read with my book club. It explored so many topics including mental health, family connections and how trauma can shape our lives. The novel is filled with references to music and pop culture of the 90's that drew me back into my youth. We all agreed we would definitely read another book written by Laura Leslie.
Profile Image for Kelly Reitmeier.
202 reviews4 followers
July 2, 2021
TW: Animal suffering and death

This was a great coming of age debut novel that touches on some important mental health issues and learning to recognize and accept them.

Taking you into the heart of a small town in Ontario, Canada this book is beautifully and darkly written.

The story contains a touch of mystery, a dash of drama, a hint of sadness and a bit of dark comedy. I was able to relate to the main character as I feel she is written in a way that no matter what walk of life you lived, growing up was never a walk in the park. It came with so many different feelings and emotions and components.

This was just a wonderfully written novel and I am glad I picked it up.
August 26, 2021
This book is poetically written and equally captivating! The story is a pleasant read with an excellent twist. Definitely recommend for a fun read that will get you thinking!
Displaying 1 - 29 of 29 reviews

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