Customer Reviews for

So Much Pretty

Average Rating 3.5
( 27 )
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(9)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

A profound look at a small western New York town through the eyes of two intrepid outsiders

In Haeden, New York, Wendy White was a cocktail waitress at a local bar and happy with having her first boyfriend. When she vanished, local law enforcement investigated but never solved her disappearance. The case remains cold while her family grieves their loss. Fiv...
In Haeden, New York, Wendy White was a cocktail waitress at a local bar and happy with having her first boyfriend. When she vanished, local law enforcement investigated but never solved her disappearance. The case remains cold while her family grieves their loss. Five months later Wendy's corpse is found.

Cleveland reporter Stacy Flynn had been in Haeden looking into the impact of the prime employer a dairy on the environment and a high number of deaths. When Wendy's body is found the journalist believes she has a bigger story. However, no one in the small town will talk to her except to insist an outsider is the killer.

Her parents moved with teenage Alice Piper from New York City to Haeden to provide a healthier lifestyle for their offspring. A genius with an upbeat confidence that the locals consider city swagger, she reads the Ohio reporter's article in the Haeden Free Press on the stratospheric amounts of deadly violence against women. Unable to keep her head in the sands as the natives have done, Alice considers who the killing wolf amidst the sheep is. Even when another brutal crime occurs, the locals are severely shaken but still prefer to believe a stranger committed it.

This engaging crime thriller looks deeply at cause and effect as the horrific act begets an equally horrific reaction. Once the plot stops switching between 1997-98 and 2007-08-09 (a few chapters in) the story line settles takes off on an exciting dark psychological path. Alice and Stacy separately dig deep into the façade of a safe small-town, whose residents blame a mystical stranger for any acts of violence. Readers will appreciate Cara Hoffman's profound look at a small western New York town through the eyes of two intrepid outsiders.

Harriet Klausner

posted by harstan on February 20, 2011

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Difficult to read but likewise filled with moments of beauty...

Debut novelist Cara Hoffman takes lots of liberties with our hearts--our fears, our uncertainties, and our repressed desires--in her 2011 novel So Much Pretty. Something happens, finally, in the rundown rural upstate New York town where a journalist slowly accumulates e...
Debut novelist Cara Hoffman takes lots of liberties with our hearts--our fears, our uncertainties, and our repressed desires--in her 2011 novel So Much Pretty. Something happens, finally, in the rundown rural upstate New York town where a journalist slowly accumulates evidence of toxic poisoning by the "family-run" corporate-owned dairy farm that dominates the physical and personal landscape of the town. The town's residents, a little strange but vaguely familiar, are given voice through depositions and interviews recorded during and after an undetermined tragedy, the outline of which we slowly perceive. An unconventional chapter format moves the action forward and backward in time, and from person to person, slowly peeling back our notion of rural placidity to reveal the bloody carcass beneath.

Let me be clear: I can not say I actually enjoyed this book. It was unsettling and disturbing, and we see ugly: sometimes human beings act to give individuals short-term gain at the expense of society's long-term health. It introduced us to folks willing to renounce that unequal equation only to confront it's inescapable impact on their lives anyway. But one can almost hear the hiss of insects in a sunny field, see the glint of sunlight on a cool stream, and feel the bump of butterflies on the walls of a hoop house when dispersed by excited children. These things the author gives us in compensation for the awful truth about two young, pretty, innocent swim team schoolgirls.

posted by TheReadingWriter on May 8, 2011

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  • Posted May 8, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Difficult to read but likewise filled with moments of beauty...

    Debut novelist Cara Hoffman takes lots of liberties with our hearts--our fears, our uncertainties, and our repressed desires--in her 2011 novel So Much Pretty. Something happens, finally, in the rundown rural upstate New York town where a journalist slowly accumulates evidence of toxic poisoning by the "family-run" corporate-owned dairy farm that dominates the physical and personal landscape of the town. The town's residents, a little strange but vaguely familiar, are given voice through depositions and interviews recorded during and after an undetermined tragedy, the outline of which we slowly perceive. An unconventional chapter format moves the action forward and backward in time, and from person to person, slowly peeling back our notion of rural placidity to reveal the bloody carcass beneath.

    Let me be clear: I can not say I actually enjoyed this book. It was unsettling and disturbing, and we see ugly: sometimes human beings act to give individuals short-term gain at the expense of society's long-term health. It introduced us to folks willing to renounce that unequal equation only to confront it's inescapable impact on their lives anyway. But one can almost hear the hiss of insects in a sunny field, see the glint of sunlight on a cool stream, and feel the bump of butterflies on the walls of a hoop house when dispersed by excited children. These things the author gives us in compensation for the awful truth about two young, pretty, innocent swim team schoolgirls.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2011

    Unpleasant Read

    This was an unpleasant read about unlikeable people. It was readable enough to make me finish it because I wanted to know what had happened to Alice. This is not a book I would recommend to anyone I know and like.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 11, 2013

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    Posted March 28, 2011

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    Posted December 20, 2011

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    Posted June 13, 2011

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    Posted July 20, 2011

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    Posted April 9, 2011

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    Posted April 19, 2011

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