Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Guest Review: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

I'd like to introduce you to my newest guest reviewer Lauren (insert big round of applause)! Lauren is a voracious reader and she'll be helping out on my blog from time to time.


A chance encounter sparks an unrelenting web of lies in this stunning new psychological thriller from national bestselling author Mary Kubica

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can't get the girl out of her head...

Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman: she works for a nonprofit, takes in stray cats. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. But despite her family's objections, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home.

Heidi spends the next few days helping Willow get back on her feet, but as clues into Willow's past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she's willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.

Publication Date: July 28, 2015

Lauren's Review:

4.5 stars! No spoilers per se, but some details revealed below.

So, briefly: Our bleeding-heart-brakes-for-animals Heidi sees a bedraggled young lady while waiting for the L during a particularly rainy time of year. Chicago, go figure. As sad of a sight this is, Heidi can't help but fly to the rescue after noticing the little baby tucked in her too thin jacket. Heidi brings Willow (ze girl) and Ruby (ze bebe) into her home, much to the chagrin of her workaholic husband, Chris and her attitude ridden daughter, Zoe. Cut to a few very awkward dinners and lots of eye rolling.

This was my very first Kubica experience, having missed
The Good Girl (a mistake I plan to remedy ASAP) and I am just so pleased with her! I mean that less in the pat-on-the-head-we're-so-shocked-and-proud-of-you way but more in the YASSSS QUEEEEN kinda way. After a string of novels I felt like I was TRUUUDGING THROUUUGHHH, Pretty Baby was so refreshingly exciting. SQUEEEE!

What starts out as a story that seems to reek more of a disgruntled marriage than any other conflict slowly, so slowly unravels into something much darker. Disclaimer about me as a reader: I don't guess. I don't mentally read ahead. I prefer to take in exactly what's in front of me, so I am constantly shocked and surprised. Maybe I'm just a simpleton. In fact, I don't think it was until this passage, more than halfway through the book that I even realized something was LEGIT AMISS: "
There is a clock in this room, as well, red digital numbers that drift from 2:21 to 4:18 a.m., all in the blink of an eye as I hover, there, at the foot of the sofa bed...

Kubica had such a skilled way of building to her conclusion. And I loved her take on chapters. I know she is not the first author to use the POV of multiple characters to break up the novel but it was the perfect way to execute the story. We were able to see what made Willow the way she was without Heidi or Chris having any of this knowledge. We watched Heidi unravel. And with Chris, we witnessed an inconvenienced husband have his reality BROKEN because he stopped looking at his wife long ago.

Sidebar: Zoe, the 12 year old daughter is awful. I don't care. She's awful. Granted her mother is a little intense, but Zoe needs Jesus and boarding school. Sry. Bye.

And then there's Willow. Where to even start. We can blame her for everything coming unhinged if we want, but that's not the right move. We can judge her for keeping little Ruby when it was so wildly clear that she was not fit, equipped, prepared to take care of a child...but that doesn't feel so good either. As her story goes on not only do we learn about her tragedies, we learn about her spirit. She has so much of it. After her parents died and her younger sister was adopted, Willow was forced to spend her formative years with a foster family that sexually, physically and mentally abused her. There is one scene later on in the novel when one of her foster brothers (we like him) sneaks her out of the house and she realizes she hasn't had to wear shoes in six years...because SHE HASN'T LEFT THAT HOUSE IN SIX YEARS. That. Is. Just. And the girl survived it all. Guyz, like, I have a meltdown if I have to put pants on for more than three days in a row.

Pretty Baby ain't fun but it's so readable I can hardly stand it. The pages fly by and the story progresses at such a subtle speed that you, the reader, don't even realize you've been accelerating this whole time and suddenly you're CAREENING towards the conclusion. Insert awesome rollercoaster metaphor here!

If I may say about the ending, the readers are left with an idea of how Willow was doing but we really don't know what is going to happen to Heidi, and her family. Good. They were all outstandingly selfish in their own right, so it's nice to just leave them be, to let them sort themselves out. But Willow, we needed to know how she turns out, that finally she's in the a place where people are nice to her. She's safe, the baby is safe and we can finally put this book down and fall asleep.

Also! I was given a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. NEATO!

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars


  1. Welcome to Heather's blog, Lauren! Very funny review. Insert awesome rollercoaster metaphor here had me rolling.

  2. That was an awesome review. Heather's certainly curating some of the best out there. :) Thanks for sharing (and for the chuckles this morning).

  3. Thanks ya'll! It's great to be here! :)

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