Monday, April 2, 2012
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.