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So Much Pretty


So Much Pretty Cover

ISBN13: 9781451616750
ISBN10: 1451616759
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Marcy Keeton, July 21, 2011 (view all comments by Marcy Keeton)
So Much Pretty is a truly luminous and engrossing novel. I was drawn into the characters and the multiple narrators very easily, as Hoffman skillfully creates suspense and mystery without revealing too much information. The narrative weaves it's magic with different voices, each with a different tone and mood; at some point the urgency of the story begins to pulse through every word. I loved this book in so many ways--the characters are vividly drawn and the language is beautiful. I don't want to say too much--but this book managed to creep me out and make me think. It reminded me of why I love Monique Wittig, and made me realize why I am a feminist. This novel is an incredible and powerful mystery--it is also a dark and disturbing vision of contemporary culture. Beautiful, memorable, haunting. Can't wait for Hoffman's next work!
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Aaron John Curtis, March 27, 2011 (view all comments by Aaron John Curtis)
It's been a long time since I finished a book and wanted to shout about it from the rooftops and run around putting copies in people's hands, but this one did that to me.

I finished it on January 28th and I've been waiting to give the right kind of shout, one that reflects how this book affected me without putting people off when I explain the subject matter. Check out a post I did for Miami blog collective The Heat Lightning. You can also check out my blog, Sweet with Fall and Fish, for a more personal reaction.

I can't wait for this author's next one.

Here's something I learned from the book, some great quotes used by the Situationists during the Paris Revolt of 1968:
-I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires.
-Be realistic, demand the impossible.
-Live without dead time.
-Boredom is counter-revolutionary.
-Beneath the paving stones, the beach.
-Run, comrade, the old world is behind you.

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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
OneMansView, March 24, 2011 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Rural Idiocy (3.5*s)

This penetrating, though choppy and fragmented, story of a murdered local girl is a pretty strong indictment of life in the hinterlands of America; the subtitle could be “the idiocy of rural life.” In all of the quick rotations from the mid-90’s to the late 2000’s and the profusion and confusion of characters, it is learned that Claire and Gene Piper, both of whom were young, overworked doctors in NYC, moved to Haedon, NY, for “back-to-the-land” ideological reasons: environmentalism, grow-your-own-food, escaping the corporate medical system, etc. There, they have raised an extremely attractive, gifted - physically, mentally, and socially - daughter Alice, who they keep insulated from consumerist culture, but not from an ability to articulate an understanding of the depredations of capitalistic society. The Piper’s have been tolerated for a number of years until the day of a shattering event.

Though there is a certain satisfaction from living in the countryside, the pervasiveness unimaginativeness of the locals is distressing, especially to Claire. Surprisingly, they discover a lack of genuine community. The economy is dominated by big-box stores and one huge dairy farm ��" the owning family being foremost among the town’s elite. An inconvenient problem, widely suppressed by tacit agreement, is that the farm is a huge producer of chemical wastes, which seep into the ground water of the area. That situation has brought Stacy Flynn to Haedon from Cleveland, where she was an award-winning journalist, to produce the local paper. Though she tries to conceal her mission of exposing environmental degradation, the locals are quite leery of her ��" she seems like a troublemaker. As it turns out, that is not the big story that falls into her lap.

Virtually all of the teenagers leave Haeden, based partly on a grass-is-greener on the other side philosophy, but not Wendy White. She enjoyed the familiar surroundings and staying in contact through her job as a waitress at a local tavern. Her life definitely took an upwards turn when the oldest son of the dairy owner, Dale Haytes, took note of her maturing good looks and started regularly dating her. That is why it was so strange when she simply disappeared. When her abused body is easily spotted five months later ��" obviously having just been placed there, Stacy, having been obsessed with the disappearance all this time, produces a devastating article on the high rate of unacknowledged abuse directed towards women in rural America.

Though several years older, Alice knew Wendy primarily as a past member of the top-notch Haeden HS swimming team. Alice’s extraordinary perceptiveness is kicked into high gear upon Wendy’s discovery and Stacy’s article. She puts together bits and pieces of conversations and behavior that she has overheard or observed in the last several months and realizes that she knew more about Wendy’s disappearance than she could express at the time. Now she is on a mission of exposure, if not revenge.

The book is both compelling and vague ��" too much swerving among characters, actions, and themes. Some of the characters are interesting, but get short shrift. For example, Alice’s relationship with her cousin, friend, etc, Theo, is both close and sketchy, and at times ethereal. It is only fitting that the uncertainties surrounding these characters continue to the end.
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Diane Prokop, March 7, 2011 (view all comments by Diane Prokop)

Cara Hoffman’s debut novel, So Much Pretty, is an extraordinarily smart and beautifully written page turner. This suspenseful and highly charged story is of a young woman, Wendy White, who goes missing in the rural town of Haeden in upstate New York. Stacey Flynn, a transplanted reporter from Cleveland, clashes with local townspeople whom she believes know more than they’re saying. Alice Piper is the precocious young daughter of transplanted hippies whose idealized dream of country living comes crashing down around them. In no time at all, White’s disappearance turns to tragedy and the Piper family is forever changed. Hoffman passionately blends the issue of violence against women that lurks unacknowledged at the dark edges of our culture with a narrative that paints a grim picture of any-town America. Hoffman’s literary voice is a force and this novel will leave you reeling.
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(4 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Hoffman, Cara
Simon & Schuster
Mystery fiction
New york (n.y.)
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

So Much Pretty Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Simon & Schuster - English 9781451616750 Reviews:
"Review" by , "A mixture of The Lovely Bones and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo."
"Review" by , "In this remarkable debut, Hoffman addresses serious injustices in present-day America.... This searing novel will linger long in the reader's memory."
"Review" by , "So Much Pretty is everything I love in a novel — dark, fascinating, beautifully written, impossible to put down. It marks the beginning of what promises to be an indelible literary career for Cara Hoffman."
"Review" by , So Much Pretty unravels a narrative that's rich with suspense and moral complexity. Delicately balancing two story lines, Cara Hoffman dramatizes a death and a disappearance. Along the way, we get caught up in her portraits of those who belong, those who don't, and the irreversible consequences of lives coming together. This story of violence begetting violence is a fine debut.”
"Synopsis" by , A beautiful and chilling exploration of violence, vengeance, and the loss of innocence that would drive someone to commit an unthinkable crime.
"Synopsis" by , “A mixture of The Lovely Bones and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”—Booklist

When she disappeared from her rural hometown, Wendy White was a sweet, family-oriented girl, a late bloomer who’d recently moved out on her own, with her first real boyfriend and a job waiting tables at the local tavern. It happens all the time—a woman goes missing, a family mourns, and the case remains unsolved. Stacy Flynn is a reporter looking for her big break. She moved east from Cleveland, a city known for its violent crime, but that’s the last thing she expected to cover in Haeden. This small, upstate New York town counts a dairy farm as its main employer and is home to families who’ve set down roots and never left—people who don’t take kindly to outsiders. Flynn is researching the environmental impact of the dairy, and the way money flows outward like the chemical runoff, eventually poisoning those who live at the edges of its reach.

Five months after she disappeared, Wendy’s body is found in a ditch just off one of Haeden’s main roads. Suddenly, Flynn has a big story, but no one wants to talk to her. No one seems to think that Wendy’s killer could still be among them. A drifter, they say. Someone “not from here.”

Fifteen-year-old Alice Piper is an imaginative student with a genius IQ and strong ideals. The precocious, confident girl has stood out in Haeden since the day her eccentric hippie parents moved there from New York City, seeking a better life for their only child. When Alice reads Flynn’s passionate article in the Haeden Free Press about violence against women—about the staggering number of women who are killed each day by people they know—she begins to connect the dots of Wendy’s disappearance and death, leading her to make a choice: join the rest in turning a blind eye, or risk getting involved. As Flynn and Alice separately observe the locals’ failure to acknowledge a murderer in their midst, Alice’s fate is forever entwined with Wendy’s when a second crime rocks the town to its core.

Stylishly written, closely observed, and bracingly unexpected, So Much Pretty leads the reader into the treacherous psychology of denial, where the details of an event are already known, deeply and intuitively felt, but not yet admitted to, reconciled or revealed.

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