Monday, June 20, 2016

Compelling Psychological Thriller Also Sad, Depressing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Heidi Wood can't resist a stray.  The 37-year-old works for a non-profit, collects feral cats, and smothers her only child in plenty of unwanted motherly attention.  She's always wanted more children, so when Heidi spies a disheveled young woman at the train station cradling an equally unkempt baby, her heart goes out to them.  At first, 16-year-old Willow refuses to let Heidi help her or baby Ruby, who's suffering from a bad cold made worse by exposure to Chicago's inclement winter weather.  When the teen finally gives in, Heidi brings both of them to her home.  The other Woods are horrified.  Who is this stranger invading their already crowded apartment?  And what of the wailing baby to whom Heidi is forming an unhealthy attachment?  Nothing good can come of sheltering them, not in Chris Wood's mind.  But his wife insists.  After all, who would be cruel enough to toss a sick baby and her worn-out young mother back onto the cold, mean streets?  Certainly not Heidi.

As mother and child continue their stay, secrets about Willow's past slowly come to life.  The more Heidi learns, the more disturbed she becomes.  She'll protect Ruby at all costs.  But what will be the price for her devotion?  Her family?  Her sanity?  Her life?  

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica tells an engrossing story about one woman's obsession with getting that for which her heart has always yearned.  It's a twisty tale, compelling, but also sad and depressing.  While all the novel's characters are sympathetic, none are particularly likable.  This fact made the read feel less fulfilling for me.  The plot definitely kept my attention, though.  Overall, then, I liked this one just didn't love it.

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a couple F-bombs plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter (child abuse, spousal abuse, sexual abuse, etc.)

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

3 comments:

  1. It's always confusing to me when I liked a book but it made me depressed. I never know what to think.

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  2. I really like this one. I am currently reading her new one, Don't You Cry, not as good so far, it is taking me a long time to invest in the story so far. I do remember moments of Pretty Baby though, as you stated sad but compelling.

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  3. I've read books that make me feel that way, too. It's strange how we can love or like the things that make us feel bad, maybe because they made us "feel." I've wanted to read this one because I loved The Good Girl.

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