Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

Summary: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Ginny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past--and who will stop at nothing to defend their future. -- Grand Central Publishing

I have always considered myself a fan of Joshilyn Jackson's, but her latest novel A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY has pretty much convinced me that I love her books! A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY just might be her best yet, and I honestly couldn't put this book down. I read it in just a few hours over the course of a day, but I had mixed emotions because I didn't want it to end. I just love it when a book and its characters leave me wanting for more... in a good way!

A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY tells the story of three generations of women who have experienced their fair share of heartaches. Ginny is the matriarch and found herself a grandmother at the ripe old age of 30! She got pregnant at 15 and her daughter Liza did the exact same thing. While Ginny struggled to prove her independence and bring up Liza to the best of her abilities, Liza left soon after giving birth to her daughter and got heavily involved in drugs. Liza eventually returns home with her daughter Mosey, and Ginny does the best she can to protect Mosey from making the same mistakes she and Liza made. However, Liza suffers a debilitating stroke and Ginny finds herself torn between helping her daughter and protecting her granddaughter. Their lives become even more disrupted when a baby's remains are discovered buried in Ginny's yard. Secrets from Liza's past are revealed and this knowledge threatens the very core of their family.

A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY was a fantastic read for so many reasons. I fear that I'm just going to gush about this novel, but I really did love it that much! The characters were well developed and you couldn't help but fall in love with them. However, the writing was also wonderful. Ms. Jackson wrote a story that not only kept me turning the pages, but it also touched my heart but also made me laugh out loud. And finally, I was pleasantly surprised by the mystery angle of the story.

Ms. Jackson has an uncanny ability to create remarkable female characters, and A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY was no exception. I loved Ginny and her spunkiness, but most of all I appreciated how she wanted to protect her loved ones no matter what the cost. She didn't always make the right decisions and her actions weren't always ideal; however, her heart was in the right place; and for that reason alone, her character resonated with me. Liza was a little tougher shell for me to crack namely because she wasn't able to communicate because of her stroke, but also because she seemed a little more immature and selfish to me. By the end of the novel, I eventually came around and found that she actually exhibited many of the same traits as her mom. And Mosey... I couldn't help but like her. She had to learn to navigate the world with a major helipcoptering grandparent and a mother who wasn't always "there," and she managed to handle the surprises that were thrown at her with maturity.

Another wonderful thing about A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY was the writing. I have already mentioned that I'm a big fan of Ms. Jackson's writing, and I thought this novel showcased so much of what makes her a special writer. I've already gone on (and on) about the characters and how well they were developed, but I also love how Ms. Jackson presented this story. The chapters alternated between the three characters, with Ginny and Mosey telling their portions of the story in their voice. Since Liza wasn't able to speak more than a few words, her chapters were told in third person. There is no doubt that Ms. Jackson captured Ginny and Mosey's voices perfectly, but I actually ended up appreciated how she told Liza's story as well. Liza's chapters provided much of the background of Liza's past as well as the secrets, and I appreciated how different they felt from the other sections.

And lastly, I loved the mystery part of this story. I don't know if I realized A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY was a mystery of sorts, but it was such a treat to try to figure out the secrets about Liza's past. I don't know if I was blown away by the resolution of the mystery, but I do think the "clues" came to light at a perfect pace. In addition, while I didn't spend a lot of time trying to figure out everything, I did come up with a few different scenarios before discovering the truth.

A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY would make an excellent book club pick. Personally, I'm hoping that someone in my group picks it since I just hosted a few months ago. There is a reading guide with ten thought-provoking questions; however, I'm not sure that your group will need them. I have a feeling that most discussions will just hit the ground running. Some of the topics you might want to explore include mother/daughter relationships, secrets, forgiveness, redemption, class structures, friendships, love, adultery, and belonging.

I borrowed a copy of A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY from my local library.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

11 comments:

Sandy Nawrot said...

Did you see my post on Saturday? Can you even IMAGINE how bad I wanted to pee my pants when I found myself at dinner with the woman? OMG!!!! Anyway, I just wanted to take her home. She talks exactly like her characters talk. She is hilarious and lights up a room. So glad you loved this one, I think it is one of her best.

Serena said...

This sounds fantastic. I haven't read any of Jackson's books, but this one sounds like one I'd like to read. I'm jealous that Sandy got to meet so many fun authors recently....sounds like Jackson is one that would be great to see anytime...

bermudaonion said...

Oh, how I loved this book!!! I agree that it's probably Jackson's best. Great review!

Kristin said...

I've had my eye on this book for a while yet. I haven't read anything by Joshilyn Jackson, but she sounds like an author I would enjoy.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I keep forgetting to request this one from the library and I can't imagine why because I do love her books and everyone says this one is the best so far!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I am glad to hear you enjoyed this book! I just ordered it yesterday since B&N was nice enough to send me a coupon! I'm really looking forward to it.

Laura Fabiani said...

I haven't read anything by this author, but now I'm starting to think I'm missing out. Will add her name to my must-read list.

Karlie said...

This book sounds awesome! I can't wait to read it.

Alison's Book Marks said...

I just adore this cover! knowing the inside is just as amazing, I need to pick this one up pronto!

Alipet813 said...

I am actually listening to this audio right now. I am loving it.

Beth F said...

I can't believe I haven't read this one yet. ARGHHHH