Pretty: A Novel

Pretty: A Novel

4.4 10
by Jillian Lauren
     
 

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An electrifying debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls.

Bebe Baker is an ex-everything: ex-stripper, ex-Christian, ex-drug addict, ex-pretty girl.

It's been one year since the car accident that killed her boyfriend left her scarred and shaken. Flanked by an eccentric posse of friends, she is serving out a

Overview

An electrifying debut novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls.

Bebe Baker is an ex-everything: ex-stripper, ex-Christian, ex-drug addict, ex-pretty girl.

It's been one year since the car accident that killed her boyfriend left her scarred and shaken. Flanked by an eccentric posse of friends, she is serving out a self-imposed sentence at a halfway house, while trying to finish cosmetology school. Amid the rampant diagnoses, over-medication, compulsive eating, and acrylic nails of Los Angeles, Bebe looks for something to believe in before something—her past, the dangerously magnetic men in her life, her own bad choices—knocks her off course again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beth "Bebe" Baker's continued attempts at sobriety reveal themes of rebirth and redemption in this solid fiction debut from Lauren (Some Girls), a performer who's worked with Richard Foreman and the Wooster Group. After a single kiss from Aaron, a horn player in a jazz band gigging in her town, this Ohio girl hops the bus and goes on tour with them. But the band gets stuck in L.A., Bebe finds work as a stripper, and her and Aaron's drug use results in a car crash that kills him and leaves her with significant physical and emotional scars. A year later, Bebe is still in a rehab/vocational facility in east L.A. Though she's trying to finish beauty school, her continued risky behavior and involvement with Jake, a dangerous schizophrenic, jeopardizes her recovery. Though Lauren's novel is well-crafted, quick, and absorbing, Bebe's obvious self-sabotage— dating Jake, breaking curfew, falling off the wagon—make her a hard character to sympathize with. You want her to care about herself, her life, her future, but when enlightenment comes, allowing her to clearly see the world, including herself and Aaron (who she's grieved as something of a saint), it's too little too late to earn the happy ending. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"Jillian Lauren writes with stunning, furious authenticity about self- destruction and the bitter road toward redemption. Pretty will knock the breath right out of you." — Janelle Brown, author of All We Ever Wanted Was Everything

"An utterly riveting, and compulsively readable saga Jillian Lauren renders the taste and feel of wretched excess - be it sex, drugs, food, or Los Angeles - with a savage veracity and style all her own." — Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

-Janelle Brown
"Jillian Lauren writes with stunning, furious authenticity about self- destruction and the bitter road toward redemption. Pretty will knock the breath right out of you."
-Jerry Stahl
"An utterly riveting, and compulsively readable saga Jillian Lauren renders the taste and feel of wretched excess - be it sex, drugs, food, or Los Angeles - with a savage veracity and style all her own."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452297340
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/30/2011
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
610,589
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Author and performer Jillian Lauren grew up in suburban New Jersey and fled across the water to New York City. Her memoir, Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, was published by Plume on April 27 2010.

Her novel, Pretty, will be published by Plume in May 2011.

Jillian has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Flaunt Magazine, Pindeldyboz Magazine and Opium Magazine, among others.

She has read at spoken word events across the country and has recently worked with directors as diverse as Steve Balderson, Lynne Breedlove and Margaret Cho.

She is married to musician Scott Shriner. They live in Los Angeles with their son.

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Pretty 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Susie_Kline More than 1 year ago
Pretty is the story of Bebe. The cover describes her as: BeBe Baker is an ex-everything: ex-stripper, ex-Christian, ex-drug addict, ex-pretty girl. What BeBe does very very well is tell her story. As she recovers from the death of her lover in a horrible car accident that left her hands and legs scarred, she struggles. She pulls herself through the days until she is finished with beauty school and through the nights as she tries to follow the rules at the half-way house where she lives. She uses her relationship with a schizophrenic resident of the men's half-way house as a distraction. Lauren's writing is incredible. I ended up marking passages in the book so I could share them! Here's my favorite: Mrs. Montano looks disturbingly like pictures I've seen of John Wayne Gacy when he dressed up like a clown. She appears to be wearing a giant beach ball costume, with only her dwarfed hands and feet sticking out. Her hair is a lacquered auburn helmet, the exact shade favored by beauty school teachers the world over. Her makeup looks like a mean puppet face, with white foundation, an angry gash of red lips, rainbow-colored arches of frosted eye shadow highlighting the crepey skin of her eyelids, and two perfect circles of blush that sit unblended on her cheeks. The entire book is filled with descriptions like this. You feel the story as much as read it. Lauren effortlessly weaves the story of the past with the story of now. Her characters are life-like and three dimensional. I hope you read this book. If you'd like to win a copy, please comment below! I'll draw the winner on Friday, September 23, at 5pm CST. So get your entries in before that! Good luck! This review originally appeared on my blog, Motherhoot.
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AnneBender More than 1 year ago
PRETTY follows Bebe Baker, a young woman coming to terms with her boyfriend's death and her rocky journey to sobriety. Bebe is an ex-everything: ex-stripper, ex-Christian, ex-drug addict, ex-pretty girl. It's been one year since the car accident that killed her boyfriend left her scarred and shaken. Flanked by an eccentric posse of friends, she is serving out a self-imposed sentence at a halfway house, while trying to finish cosmetology school. Amid the rampant diagnoses, over-medication, compulsive eating, and acrylic nails of Los Angeles, Bebe looks for something to believe in before something - her past, the dangerously magnetic men in her life, her own bad choices - knocks her off course again. -------- Pretty is a book I won't soon forget. Bebe is not someone to pity, but rather someone to watch. All her life she has been searching for who she is. She has been born again and again and is ever hopeful that one day it will stick. Except for the ex-everything et al., I completely relate to Bebe. Who hasn't thought about how their life should have been, could have been, should be, could be. Bebe is all about hope. She never loses hope even when she thinks it is all hopeless. This is not a book about the privileged or the semi-privileged nor is it about the under-privileged. Pretty is about finding one's way in life, regardless of the path we choose. One wrong turn does not mean game over. There is always another road just waiting to be taken. Disclosure: As a member of Global Influence, I was sent a free copy to review. As always, my opinions are 100% my own.
ellengerstein More than 1 year ago
What is right about this book - it's very hard to make someone like Bebe sympathetic to the reader while still portraying her as a flawed individual who didn't always do the right thing and continues to make mistakes. The author accomplishes that quite naturally. You don't go into this book expecting to be a feel-good story, and it isn't. Bebe is not living an easy life and sometimes the book doesn't let up in regards to her misery. Addiction and recovery are major things that shouldn't be glossed over and this book doesn't do that. She's a genuinely talented writer. I'm now eager to check out her first book, Some Girls, which is a memoir subtitled "My Life in a Harem". Uh huh. That's right. Should you read this book? Maybe. If you're looking for something light and fluffy, no. If you want to make a commitment to a topic that isn't pleasant much of the time, but has some really great bits of prose that I wish I had written myself, dive right in. It's not going to be for everyone, but I think if you're into something a little darker than most popular fiction, give Pretty a try. Some reviewers on Amazon suggest that teens could read this book but I think it's more appropriate for the 19+ crowd. As a Global Influence Blogger, I was provided a free copy of this book to review.
lesleypeck More than 1 year ago
I just received the book yesterday. UPS was having issues. :( But I did start reading it and am about half way through. All I can say is WOW. This book is riveting. It's just amazing. I find it hard to put into words just how I feel. It seems very real. You find yourself wanting Bebe to do better and overcome. Truly emotional.
R-Jolly More than 1 year ago
This is an incredibly sad, yet powerful story about a person who struggles with guilt, ADD, chemical dependency, and so much more. She aims to stay clean with the end goal of graduating from Cosmetology school. The title of this book is compelling because her struggles are as much internal as they are external. She is scarred physically and emotionally from a tragic accident and finds support in a halfway house so she can try and work through her addiction as well the emotional scarring from unhealthy relationships (one that was on a downhill spiral before the accident claimed her beau and her current run with the schizophrenic). It's a difficult read. Grim and sobering. Having personally volunteered in a halfway house, Bebe's story isn't uncommon. People need a lot of support to see themselves as worthy of the good things they seek. Though it would be a great novel to introduce a teen to the harsh realities of an imperfect world, parental guidance is definitely advised. A reader who has gone/is going through Cosmetology school may also have some appreciation to its references to certain techniques, as I certainly did not. If anything, one should come away with a deeper appreciation or understanding of the conflicts experienced by the deeply troubled. Disclosure: As a Global Influence Blogger, I was provided a free copy of this book to review and giveaway.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Beth "Bebe" Baker worked at Rudy's in Toledo when Aaron the horn player on tour with jazz star Billy Coyote enters the dive. He had three things going for him and one negative. The positives are the horn like Bebe's pop, his being very tall like she is, and his kiss. However, he also seems tentative as if he cannot play the final note. Bebe hops on the tour bus as it leaves Toledo. In Los Angeles the band becomes marooned. Bebe becomes a stripper while Aaron's drug use increasingly gets out of control until he dies in a car crash that leaves her physically scarred and emotionally damaged. Over the next year Bebe goes to rehab vocational facility while attending beauty school. As she tries to reinvent herself by staying clean and grieve her hero, Bebe also sees schizophrenic Jake. This is an intriguing character study of a woman who makes bad choices on her life as she seems to repeat her errors. Bebe is a fascinating protagonist who though she goes to school and sees another man, has not moved passed her loss of Aaron. Besides some sympathy over his death, readers will not empathize with Bebe as every time she takes a big leap forward, she follows up with gigantic leaps backward. Readers will appreciate Jillian Lauren's look at a complicated individual who believes graduation will prove her savior. Harriet Klausner