So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman
Simon & Schuster – March 2011
A young girl disappears from a rural town in upstate New York and, when the body turns up five months later, new-in-town reporter Stacy Flynn thinks this story will be the break she’s been looking for and a much needed shift from the story about the environmental impact of the dairy farms that are the bread and butter of this town that she was previously working on. Stacy becomes even more of an outsider when she suspects that it could be someone that lives in the town rather than a drifter like everyone else seems to think. Affected by the death of a peer, Alice Piper, a very smart and unique girl whose family is seen as outsiders for being a bit eccentric, starts trying to come to her own conclusions about who Wendy’s murderer is. Alice must decide if she should get involved to make things right or should she just go about her business like everybody else?
On one hand, this was one of the most psychologically thrilling and suspenseful books I’ve read in a while. And on the other hand, I could not get through this novel. It just took me so long and I found myself not really dying to pick it up. I know this sounds weird but that was the way my experience was.
Firstly, the premise was interesting from the beginning to me. Immediately in the beginning of the story it points to something Alice did in the course of this novel and wanting to know what this big thing she did WAS really propelled me throughout this story. I also, from the get-go, obviously wanted to know who the killer was and what this town was hiding. Those things kept me going and the whole story that unraveled was honestly just a crazy suspenseful ride! The whole ending with Alice was insane and I just could not brace myself during the reading of the last part of the book!
But on the other hand, what kept me from truly getting into this novel was the fact of how confusing it all was. I don’t mind novels from multiple perspectives or that switch back and forth in time (The Time Traveler’s Wife) but this one seemed super disjointed and confusing to me especially in the beginning. It was all over the place…from this character to that character to a character from when she was 5 to now and back again. I seriously could have gotten some whiplash from all the changing perspectives and time periods. I kept getting confused of who characters were and where we were in the story and it was annoying because I felt like I kept having to go back and figure out things that I was reading. For whatever reason, this novel just slowed me down with the style…which is unfortunate because typically this does not happen with multiple narrators or switching back and forth.
I thought the moral and social issues that arose in this book were fascinating and unsettling. The story truly felt like something that could have been taken from your nightly news which is probably why I found it so disturbing..albeit there was much more drama in this book. I found it to be of much more substance than other crime thrillers that I’ve read and much more “literary” but unfortunately the style really just put a damper on my overall enjoyment. I honestly pushed myself to read through it just so I could find out what the heck happened! Was it worth it? In some ways but I’m not sure I would feel bad if someone would have just told me the ending. Ultimately, it packed quite a punch that I wouldn’t have gotten from someone just telling me what happened.
* This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Question: Has the style of a book ever ruined a perfectly good story for you?