Synopses & Reviews
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 have 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.
"So Much Pretty
is a fearless first novel," announced The New York Times Book Review
, "for all the passion in this intense narrative, Hoffman writes with a restraint that makes poetry of pain." "This beautiful, stealthy novel creeps up on the mesmerized reader, subtly drawing new strands into itself until what begins as the suspenseful story of a rural American murder grows into a dark, disquieting, and urgently fascinating examination of the violence and concealment practiced by a whole society": so says #1 New York Times
bestselling novelist Chris Cleave (author of Little Bee
) about Cara Hoffman's widely acclaimed debut novel.
Set in an insular rural community steeped in silence and denial, So Much Pretty explores every parent’s greatest fear, that their child will be hurt. But it also examines a second, equally troubling question: what if my child hurts someone else? Through the eyes of journalist Stacy Flynn, Hoffman meticulously details the disappearance and murder of nineteen-year-old Wendy White. Flynn's intense crusade to expose a killer draws the attention of a precocious local girl, Alice Piper, whose story intertwines with Wendy's in a spellbinding and unexpected climax. Praised by Booklist as "a cross between The Lovely Bones and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," So Much Pretty is "a searing novel that will linger long in the reader's memory" Publishers Weekly, starred review.
Set in a rural community steeped in silence and denial, So Much Pretty explores all parents greatest fear, that their child will be hurt. But it also examines a second, equally troubling question: What if my child hurts someone else? The disappearance and murder of nineteen-year-old Wendy White is detailed through the eyes of journalist Stacy Flynn and a host of other richly drawn characters, each with their own secrets and convictions. After Wendy's body is found, Flynn's intense crusade to expose a killer draws the attention of a precocious local girl, Alice Piper, whose story intertwines with Wendy's in a spellbinding and unexpected climax.
About the Author
Cara Hoffman is the author of the internationally critically acclaimed novel So Much Pretty. She has won a New York State Foundation for the Arts fellowship for her work on the aesthetics of violence and its impact on children and has been a visiting writer at St. John's University, Goddard College, Columbia University, and Oxford University, where she lectured on Antisocial Masculinity for the Rhodes Global Scholars Symposium. Her essays have been featured on NPR, Red, Women Under Siege, and Truthout. Hoffman currently teaches writing and literature at Bronx Community College and sings classical music with the St. George Choral Society, Manhattan's oldest choir.