Review: Pretty Amy (Pretty Amy #1) by Lisa Burstein

Pretty AmyPretty Amy (Pretty Amy #1) by Lisa Burstein

Paperback 304 Pages
Published May 8th 2012 by Entangled Publishing
Contemporary YA
Source: eArc provided for review by Entangled Publishing

Purchase Pretty Amy: Book Depository /Barnes & Noble /Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she's somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands--earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx--Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating"rehabilitation techniques" now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing--like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it's worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

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Wow. I completely misjudged this book by it's cover and pre-release hype. Pretty Amy dealt with some very serious issues and would not qualify as a light read. However, I felt that there was enough of Amy's inner snark and humor that kept this from being too heavy of a story.

Pretty Amy follows Amy as she goes on a journey of self-discovery and what it means to grow up and be your own person. The story has drama and angst and deals with some very difficult situations. Amy really struggles in her search to find out who she is.

Amy's desire to belong and to fit in blinds her to her friends faults and weaknesses. She was willing to give up her freedom for these so called friends who quite obviously (at least to the reader) weren't willing to do the same for her. They were definitely not worth Amy sacrificing her future for. Ditto for the boy showing such a sudden interest in Amy. She needs to figure out his motivations before he drags her down so far that she can't get back up.

I could not relate to Amy's parents AT ALL. Maybe because my parent's never acted that way. But mostly because as a parent of a 17 and 14 year old, I myself have never acted that way. Nor do I plan to.

Maybe it's just due to my age, but I found Amy to be immature, whiny, and self pitying. I really didn't like her much as a character. Although I did enjoy reading this story from her perspective, and at times I truly felt sorry for the situation that she was in. But I also felt that most of her problems were of her own making. I really couldn't understand Amy's refusal to help herself. At times she seemed naive and I wanted to tell her to get over it already and figure out who your real friends are.

I must mention Joe, a minor character who I thought was the most interesting person in Pretty Amy. Sadly, there wasn't enough of him to even call him a secondary character. I thought he had the most depth and potential. I wish he had a larger role so we could have spent more time with him.

Overall, Pretty Amy was a very interesting read. A bit heavy for a contemporary, it definitely deals with a more mature subject matter. And even though I couldn't make a more personal connection to Amy, I felt this was a well written and mostly believable story.

The following quote is what made me want to read Pretty Amy. You get a little look at Amy's messed up life and a sneak peek at Joe.

I was a block away from my house when I saw Joe walking toward me. I threw my cigarette in the gutter. His suit jacket was off, his purple tie around his head like a headband. His cummerbund was missing. Maybe Leslie had kept it as a souvenir.

I looked down and walked faster.

“Where’s your dress?” he asked. I could tell he was still drunk, which was probably the only reason he even bothered to stop. It was the most he had said to me in three years—well, not counting last night.

“Where’s yours?” I asked, channeling Cassie. Afraid that if I let my guard down, he would be able to tell what had happened, would be able to break me right in two.

“You used to be nice,” he said, putting his hands in his pockets. He did that when they started to shake. That was why he loved playing volleyball. I wished he’d never told me that.

“Go away, Joe,” I said.

“Exactly,” he said. His pupils were big; big black moons in his hazel eyes. He shook his head. “You used to be you.”

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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  1. I really want to read this book!

  2. I read Pretty Amy and loved it! I'm so sorry you didn't like it as much, but I found Amy a really real, raw character who was trying to find self-worth. I loved her intelligence, and I loved her voice.

    1. I think I couldn't relate to Amy because of my age - I'm 43 and I have a 17 year old myself. Amy's parents were terrible at parenting! And I loved Joe - he seemed to be pretty level headed.

  3. I think this is a nice book! Excelent! :)

  4. Sounds like Amy is has big issues on a lot of things. I like the real situtation of wanting to belong, but from what you've said, she sounds like a whine baby.

  5. I just read this at the weekend and I have to say that there were some cracking lines in there! I particularly liked these:
    “If bitching were karate, my mother would be a black belt.”

    “I read the following: Three local girls arrested in connection with area-wide drug-distribution ring, caught en route to the Collinsville South High Prom.
    "Your mother thinks we'll have news crews camped on our lawn," He said.
    I was less concerned about that and more concerned that it was now forever in black and white that we had been dateless for the prom.”

    “Ginny yelled through her megaphone as we worked, telling us to view the trash we picked up as a gathering of all the souls we affected with our drug use. To see each piece as one more person who forgave us.
    I picked up an empty box of adult diapers and wondered who that was supposed to be.”

  6. I love the quote! It makes me want to check it out for myself now. :)

  7. I was really excited to read this book as well, when it was still in the pre-release stages, and I've heard more bad than good, so I'm leaning towards not reading this one. I really can't bring myself to read a book with girl who smokes. I don't care what kind of issues this book addresses, I simply despise the habit of smoking and will not read about it, especially in teens. I think that this book is trying to be "real", but real isn't always bad.
    Thanks for the review!
    Alyssa Susanna

  8. To be honest..the cover does NOTHING for me and I know we shouldn't judge books by their covers, I don't usually, I just wasn't feeling it, neither the blurb. But after reading the excerpt, I am interested so thank you! :)

  9. This is one I've recently put on my wishlist.


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