Such a Pretty Girl by Laura WiessSuch a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess

Such a Pretty Girl

byLaura Wiess

Paperback | January 2, 2007

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about

A darkly compelling novel about a young woman who must defend herself against her abusive father. “In the character of Meredith, Laura Wiess has created a girl to walk alongside Harper Lee’s Scout and J.D. Salinger’s Phoebe. Read this novel, and you will be changed forever” (New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice).

They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out.
Title:Such a Pretty GirlFormat:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 7 × 5 × 0.6 inPublished:January 2, 2007Publisher:Mtv BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1416521836

ISBN - 13:9781416521839

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from its ok very hard subject matter. I think it was perhaps too much for this author and the book fell flat.
Date published: 2018-05-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Sadly, not Wiess' best This book may have been okay on its own, but it pales in comparison to Wiess' other novels in my eyes. While I revisit her other books, this one I never enjoyed that much to begin with to ever consider rereading. It just lacked the depth and certain something that's so captivating about her other books, yet hard to put into words.
Date published: 2018-02-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting book Hard subject matter. Interesting writing style.
Date published: 2017-08-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such A Pretty Girl Lots of raw emotions through a dark, haunting story line.
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such A Pretty Girl A very realistic and emotional.
Date published: 2017-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing and Haunting After having this book on my tbr pile for a whole year I finally got a chance to read it and I'm really glad I did. This book can be a difficult read because it deals with a difficult subject. Meredith, the heroine of the novel is faced with the horrors of having her sexually abusive father back in the picture 3 years after he was sent to prison. The legal system failed Meredith once and now she, not the people who are supposed to protect the victims must face her new reality with more courage than you can imagine. I absolutely loved Such a Pretty Girl. It's a great book about an ugly subject but the author handled the subject matter with a lot of grace. Not many authors will touch this subject and even fewer who do it properly but Laura Wiess is one of those who was able to tell her story remarkably well. While Such a Pretty Girl is a very short read at only 212 pages it certainly packs an emotional punch. I found myself cheering Meredith on through out the whole novel and was happy with the outcome at the end but I also found myself in somewhat of a murderous rage when it came to her parents. It's not every day that I actually find a character let alone two that I would mind putting in a tiger's pen and hoping for the worst. Harsh? Maybe. But completely deserved. Meredith's idiot of a mother failed her even more than her abusive father did. She turned a blind eye to Meredith's horrors for years and she should be in jail just as much as her husband. However, Meredith does have a small cluster of people around her that do love, support, cherish and are willing to protect her but they all have their own lives as well so I could understand much of Meredith's frustrations in the book of feeling alone. I thought that the story line of Such a Pretty Girl was perfectly paced and I'm glad it wasn't overly long. 212 pages was the perfect length for this story and I'm afraid that if it were longer it wouldn't have packed as much punch as it did. The characters were though provoking albeit sometimes I had violent thoughts towards some but other I loved. I would recommend this to people who enjoy contemporary young adult fiction especially novels that deal with the darker subjects. It's one that will make you feel a bevy of different emotions and send you on a roller coaster ride you won't forget. Laura Wiess should be applauded for handling this subject the way she did and I can't wait to read more of her novels.
Date published: 2013-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Quick, but good read Such a pretty girl is a novel that deals with a very touchy subject. It is about a girl who was molested by her father, who went to jail for his crimes. Serving only three years out of nine year sentence, she is anything but thrilled he is out. Her mother on the other hand is pleased, claiming everything he did was merely a big mistake. He is deemed fit for society, but is he really? Laura writes with extreme care about a life shattering event. Her characters are life-like and you can sympathize with the main character because of this. Although the book is short and easy to read it is still very good. I would definitely recommend it.
Date published: 2010-02-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good :) I really liked this book. It pulled me in from the very first page and I read the whole thing in one sitting. The plot was easy to follow but the characters were a little underdeveloped. I would recommend it but only to reader above 16 years old because it is about a very sensitive subject, and at times is slightly disturbing.
Date published: 2009-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A serious, book for teens This book is amazing. I would advise older teens to read it because of the subject. A very chilling but good read. Laura Wiess did an amazing job with this character. She is both strong and brave as she goes against her father in what could be the fight of her life
Date published: 2008-08-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A brutal, but honest read Meredith has to cope with her father's release from prison in this brutally honest portrayal of a victim/survivor's life. This novel's themes of survival, self-sacrifice, paralysis and miracles are woven into the text in beautiful but straightforward prose. I would recommend this novel to sensitive and mature teen readers. It is similar to other books published by MTV books including Perks of Being a Wallflower and Crooked, but deals with its subject matter in a harsher way.
Date published: 2007-05-10

Read from the Book

Chapter One They promised me nine years of safety but only gave me three. Today my time has run out. I sit on the curb at the back of the parking lot near the Dumpster. The waste from the condo complex bakes in this cumbersome green kiln and the stench is shocking, heavy with rancid grease and sickly-sweet decay. The association's tried to beautify the Dumpster, painting the rusty sides a perky green and relettering the faded residents' use only sign, but the battered lid thwarts them, as it's warped from rough use and no longer seals the stewing fumes neatly in the box. "Perfect," I mutter and take a drag off my cigarette. Blow a couple of smoke rings and tempt the crusading, condo cowboys to rush from their air-conditioned dens and snatch the forbidden smudge stick away. But they won't. They keep their distance now, afraid my taint will rub off. These adults who ache to interfere -- convinced their quality-of-life ordinances and PC patrolling make them a village-raising-a-child -- are the same people who picketed and wrote scathing letters to the editor to prevent my mother from renting a second condo in the front of the complex for my father's homecoming. It didn't work, of course. My mother's attorney protected my father's rights and threatened to sue the complex owner if housing was denied. The owner caved, the condo was rented, and the neighbors were left reeling, hobbled by their own laws. "I wish I could have found him a unit closer to ours, but this'll have to do for now," my mother had said earlier, spraying CK's Obsession along her neck and thighs. "And besides, it's only temporary until we can live like a family again." Her cheeks were pink, her voice breathy with anticipation. "He's really looking forward to it, Meredith. Being home with us, I mean. It's what's kept him going. I hope you can appreciate that." I watched her and said nothing. Silence was the key to self-preservation. "Now, where did I leave my...oh, there it is." She crossed to the bed, slipped off her robe, and smoothed the lace trim on her white La Perla panties. The matching bra was for show only, as she was almost flat on top. "And as far as this whole adjustment period thing goes...personally, I would have let you spend the weekend at your grandmother's like we'd planned so your father and I could have had a little time alone first, but that's not what he wanted." Frowning, she examined the delicate, rhinestone heart stitched onto the front of the panties. "Hmm. This better not make a bump under my dress. He wants us both here for him and I think that says a lot about forgiveness and a fresh start. We've all sacrificed, Meredith. I hope you understand that, too." I studied my thumb. Bit off a hangnail. Dead skin, so no pain. Not bad. "Just stay down, will you?" She poked at the glittery heart, not seeming to notice my lack of response. "Oh, for...I don't have time for this. If it sticks up, I'll just have to cut it off." Impatient, she slid into her dress and presented me with her back so I could zip the new red mini. It was a size two from a Lord & Taylor window display she'd designed at the mall and probably not intended for a thirty-nine-year-old with a stranglehold on her fading youth. "Careful. This is silk." I eased up the zipper and lingered, one knuckle brushing the warmth of her neck. "Time, Meredith." She pulled away and shook her hair, poked her feet into scarlet mules, and smoothed the dress from hipbone to hipbone. "No lumps, no bumps. Perfect." I wandered over to her bureau and recapped the cologne as my mother continued her nervous chatter. "I used this same shade of red in the welcome home! banner, the flowers in the living room, and the new guest towels, you know. In decorating, you want to tie everything together to create the impression of continuous harmony. I put touches of color in your father's condo, too. I think he'll be pleased. Oh, and I took three steaks out to thaw so now is not the time to go into that silly vegetarian kick." She glanced my way and shook her head. "And please, put on something decent before we get back. This is a celebration, not a wake. No overalls and no more gray. I mean it. Try to look cheerful for a change." She skimmed on lipstick and glanced at her watch. "Time to run. Tonight's going to be wonderful!" Wrong, I'd wanted to say as she swept out in a blur of red silk. Tonight is when the obscene becomes the acceptable. My father has been gone for three years. Long enough for the town to finally stop shunning us and for his victims to get counseling. Long enough for me to lose one social worker to pregnancy and two more hollow-eyed, twitchy ones to career burnout. Long enough for my mother to have been granted a divorce, had she ever applied for one. But she hasn't. Nor has she ever stopped visiting him in the Big House. Today will be her final pilgrimage, and thanks to Megan's Law, everyone in town knows it. My father's release date was given to all the local cops, school administrators, and youth group leaders. They got handouts with his name, photo, physical description, the crimes for which he was convicted, his home address, and license plate. The law says they aren't allowed to share the info with anyone else, but of course they did -- who wouldn't? -- so now we're marked for life. His picture is even posted on the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry. My mother ignores it all; the hostile undercurrents, the whispers and disparaging looks, the grim disgust in my grandmother's face, and the dogged blankness in mine. Sharon Shale, my mother, does not see what she doesn't want to see. She never has. And for the last three years, she hasn't wanted to see me. At least not in private, when no one else is watching. She's always half-turned away, ahead of or behind me, tossing out words without watching to gauge their effect, cluttering my wake with complaints of attitude, dirty dishes, or stray eyebrows plucked into the sink. She acts like my scars are on the outside and I'm too disturbing to look at head-on. So I leave proof of my existence behind me like a snail trail with the small hope that years of talking at me will someday soften her enough to talk with me, that she'll finally pull the knife from my chest and say yes, we are better off without him. That what happened wasn't my fault and from now on she will thrust herself between me and danger, and shout NO. Hands shaking, I fish a fresh cigarette from the front pocket of my bib overalls and try to light it off the old one. My chin trembles, the butts joust, and the burning head gets knocked off into the gutter at my feet. I grind it out. Jab the unlit cigarette back into the pack. Look up to see my mother's BMW pulling into the driveway. A man sits shotgun. My father. Copyright © 2007 by Laura Battyanyi Wiess Chapter Two The driver's door opens and my mother pops out. She looks around expectantly and spots me hunkered on the curb instead of hurtling toward them, whooping, "Welcome home, Daddy!" Annoyance crimps her smile. "Mere-dith," she calls, waving me closer. "Look who's here!" Her scarlet nails glow orange in the sunset. "Come say hello!" I can't. Breathing hurts and I want to run. His head turns toward me and my gaze jumps away, fixes on the fists filling my pockets. I count the rigid knuckles lumped beneath the faded denim. Four is my safe number. Eight is double strength. I smell terror in my sudden sweat. Oh God, please don't let this happen. "Meredith," my mother says again, and there's steel beneath the honey. "I'm talking to you. Come here and say hello to your father, please. Now." It's the bitchy "now" that punctures my paralysis. Now he's here. Now she's happy. Now I'm supposed to act like nothing ever happened. Anger saves me. I plant my palms on the curb and push myself up. Smooth my baggy overalls and black tank. Unhook my hair from behind my ears. The halves swing forward to curtain off all but my nose. My eyes burn and heat envelops my face. The passenger door opens. One sneakered foot is planted on the driveway. The other joins it. The Nikes are blindingly new. Size twelve. My mother has been shopping for him. The jeans are also new. If I allow my gaze to travel higher -- which I won't -- I'll see the solid gold baseball charm on a chain that my mother gave him for his eighteenth birthday nestled in his coarse, whorled chest hair. My front teeth throb as the memory of the charm bangs against them. "Hello, Meredith." The voice is quiet, kind, hoarse with history...and it destroys me. A sick, writhing knot of old love and despair lays me open worse than the first time and the force of it almost takes me down. I lock my knees, trying not to sway. This was not supposed to happen. I spent years steeling myself, reliving every rotten moment over and over again to make myself immune, hiding from nothing so there would be nothing hidden left to cripple me, and I thought I'd made it, but now, with one simple greeting, I've already lost. "No, Daddy, no. Don't." "Meredith," he says again, soft and almost pleading, a voice I know, a voice that sends the nausea churning in my stomach straight up into my throat. I swallow hard and lift my chin in reply. It's all I can manage and more than he deserves. "Well." My mother plants her hands on her hips, peevish. "Is that the best welcome you can come up with? Why don't you come over here and give your father a hug?" Hug him? Touch him? How can she even suggest it? "It's okay. Don't push her, Sharon." He slams the passenger door and stretches, glances around the ominously silent court. Blinds twitch and a shade goes down, but he doesn't seem to notice. "Nice place. Peaceful. We have the rest of our lives to get reacquainted. Right, Chirp?" My head jerks up, the curtain of hair parts, and for one piercing moment the predator and the prey lock gazes. He winks at me before turning to my mother. "Don't worry, she'll come around. Three years is a long time to be out of a kid's life." Not long enough! I want to shout, but I am mute, rooted in place as my stomach cramps and my defenses stumble in dazed disorder. He found me so easily. Resurrected my old nickname and broke right through. Does he know it? I don't know. So far I've only given him silence and surprise, so maybe he isn't sure. I have to count on that, have to believe I still have a chance to survive this. "Yes, it is," my mother says, shooting me an exasperated look and shouldering her purse. "Why don't we go in out of this heat, Charles? I have some steaks defrosting -- " "No you don't." I come alive, reminded of my sabotage, and force myself up the lawn toward them. The grass is cool in the shade so I sit and make a show of removing my sandals. My feet are filthy from walking barefoot. I hitch up my pant leg and scratch my stubbly shin, making certain my father notes my horrible hygiene. I hate being dirty, but I know that he hates it more. "Yes I do," my mother says, frowning. "I took three steaks out before I left." "And I threw them away," I say, and nod at the Dumpster. "They smelled bad." "What? All of them?" She is astonished. "Meredith, how could you?" "They were rotten," I say with a careless shrug. "Probably loaded with E. coli, too. It's the stuff no one sees that does the most damage." My father rubs his forehead, dulling the sweaty sheen above his brow. "So you threw them away," my mother says, as if repeating it is the key to undoing it. "Sixty dollars' worth of steaks! How could they be rotten? I just bought them the other day!" "Go smell for yourself," I say. "They're right on top." She won't. He might, just to reassert his authority. I hope he does. The steaks are there, unwrapped and carefully laid out on top of a split garbage bag soggy with liquefied waste. "Meredith, I don't...you know I...my God..." She's breathing hard, embarrassed and furious, caught between the harmonious, happy homecoming and letting me have it. "Never mind, Shar," my father says, crossing around the front of the car and patting her back. His hand is awkward and although she turns from me and leans into him, he doesn't lean back. He worships youth. She chases it, but can never be young enough again. "I've been dreaming about Tony's pizzas for years. Come on, let's go order one." Neither looks at me as they mount the front steps and fumble with the keys. I stay where I am, silently counting the bricks in the steps and the cherry red geranium petals scattering the sidewalk beneath the urns flanking our porch. I count in lots of four, my gaze tracing corner-to-corner box shapes for each small group, and it isn't long before my heart slows and the trembling stops. My parents will call Tony's and try to place a delivery order, but it'll be refused. Tony has caller ID and once he recognizes the last name, he'll say he doesn't deliver to our "area." He does, however, deliver to the rest of the complex. It's a daring discrimination, one that has earned my reluctant admiration. My mother doesn't know Tony shuns us because she doesn't want to know. But both she and my father are about to find out. The good citizens of Estertown don't take kindly to child molesters or to the carrier families who deliberately host the virus and reinfect the community. I glance across the court at the condo catty-cornered to my building. Andy, who has ordered and received countless pizzas from Tony's for me, is sitting in his living room window. His bare chest gleams in the dying daylight. He shivers and lifts his bottle of Jim Beam in silent luck. I nod because he sees, and knows. Copyright © 2007 by Laura Battyanyi Wiess

Bookclub Guide

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS 1. Meredith frequently refers to numbers throughout the novel -- how many tiles there are in the bathroom, the amount of multivitamins she takes, and four being her "safety number." Why does Meredith find such comfort in numbers? 2. Discuss the theme of paralysis in Such a Pretty Girl and how it applies to each character. 3. "Ms. Mues shields me just to thwart my father. She doesn't really care for me. She's a plotter, a planner and what better way to avenge her son than to destroy her enemy's daughter? To gain my trust and use me to achieve her goal, much like my father used Andy..." (page 73). Do you think this is true? What is Ms. Mues's motivation for moving into Meredith's neighborhood? 4. "Four is my best number, but there are four years between my parents too, and I would rather fall down dead than find out we're anything like them" (page 74). How is the relationship between Andy and Meredith different than the relationship between Meredith's parents? Do you think Meredith is repeating her mother's mistake? 5. "A victim soul is a pious individual chosen to absorb the suffering o f others" (page 86). Who do you think acts as the victim soul in this novel? Does this person accept his/her role willingly? 6. "Andy's demons chase him just as hard as yours chase you" (page 114). How are Andy and Meredith different in dealing with their mutual psychological scars? 7. What is the significance of each of the recurring images in the novel: the Dumpster, the gold baseball pendant, roses, and the statue of Mary. 8. Discuss the relationship between Sharon and Charles. Why does she stay with him despite everything he's done? Meredith believes her mother will always choose her husband over her daughter. Is this true? If so, why does she want Meredith to stay with them instead of with her grandmother? 9. "It's the stuff that no one sees that does the most damage" (page 10). Sight is another theme in Such a Pretty Girl. What does each character choose not to see and how does that hurt them? 10.What do you think Meredith's future will be like? Will she become the stereotype of abused children? Or will she become its exception? READER TIPS 1. Visit Laura Wiess's blog at http://gypsyrobin.livejournal.com. 2. Did this book inspire you to get involved in protecting your community? Go to www.fbi.gov/hq/cid/cac/states.htm to find information on sex offenders who might be living in your neighborhood. 3. Watch the documentary highly recommended by the author, Just Melvin: Just Evil.

Editorial Reviews

"Beautifully written and painfully real. Laura Wiess has crafted a gripping story that is heart-rending -- and important, with a capital 'I'."
-- Barbara Delinsky, New York Times bestselling author of Flirting with Pete