Vegantrav's Reviews > So Much Pretty

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
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's review
Jun 08, 2011

really liked it
Read in June, 2011

Of the new books published this year, Cara Hoffman's So Much Pretty is my favorite (so far).

As So Much Pretty begins, we learn that a young woman, Wendy White, has been murdered. There are also some initial clues that a high school girl, Alice Piper, is in some sort of trouble, and it seems to be connected, with Wendy's murder.

The novel then jumps back and forth through time, telling us about Alice's parents and their early years together as well as the present time, just after the murder, and the intervening years. We meet all the key characters in the story and learn their history with a primary focus on Alice and on the local newspaper reporter/editor, Flynn, and Wendy's background also receives a good deal of consideration, though not as much as Alice and Flynn. These three women are the focus of the story.

This is a suspense story where the tension builds really rather slowly, but after about 200 pages, I was completely hooked, and when the major turning point of the novel finally begins (where we, at last, learn what the trouble with Alice is), I was completely stunned: I did not at all see this turn of events coming, and I really don't think most readers will either, yet it fits perfectly with the narrative logic. I don't want to give anything away, so I won't say what this event is here, but I think most readers will be shocked not only by the event but also its aftermath.

This is a great mystery story with some really fascinating characters and a fabulous ending. I highly recommend it.


Okay, so the event to which I was referring above is Alice's mass murder of seven of her male high school classmates who were responsible for the rape and murder of Wendy. (While these boys did not carry out the murder, they had raped Wendy and could have intervened to save her from being murdered had they wanted to do so.) Alice carries out the murders in Columbine-like fashion at her high school, gunning the boys down methodically, and she pulls it off in such a fashion that there is no solid evidence that she is the murderer, though she is the prime suspect and is arrested. From the narrative trajectory, it appears that Alice will go to trial and likely be acquitted due to insufficient evidence, but before that happens, Alice successfully escapes from a hospital after faking a suicide attempt and flees from her home in upstate New York to start a new life in California.
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Susan Bright I am glad that I read your review, especially the spoiler. I had a hard time getting through this book and did not finish it. Now, I think I want to go back and finish it.

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