Pretty Thingsby Sarra Manning
Brie is in love with Lancôme Juicy Tubes, Louis Vuitton accessories, and her gay best friend Charlie, who is in love with 1960s pop art, 1980s teen movies, and serial heartbreaker Walker, who has ever only been in love with his VW Bug, until he meets Daisy . . . who is too busy hating everyone to know what love is. Set in London, this girl-loves-boy-loves-boy-lovesgirl romp is set against a theatrical production of The Taming of the Shrew, and features enough on- and off-stage drama to satisfy teens looking for a beach read—or a read all year round.
- Penguin Young Readers Group
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.96(w) x 6.99(h) x 0.72(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 - 17 Years
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By Sarra Manning
DUTTON BOOKSCopyright © 2005 Sarra Manning
All right reserved.
Chapter One"She's my best friend, certainly not the average girl."
I think I've spent roughly one third of my entire life in Brie's bedroom. I've seen her walls covered in Paddington Bear wallpaper. I've seen the walls covered in pictures of Westlife (which, quite frankly, I still have nightmares about), and I helped paint the walls the current fetching shade of Pink Sequin Editions Indian Summer Flat Matte, which isn't as garish as it sounds. It was also my idea to paint the ceiling midnight blue with lots of little stars sprinkled all over it. I spend a lot of time lying in, on, or around Brie's bed, so I like having something pretty to look at.
I like sleeping with Brie; she never hogs the covers and she keeps her elbows to herself. I even have a drawer here full of T-shirts and clean pants and a spare jar of moisturizer, which simples things up so much.
Brie was snoring very gently and delicately when I woke up this morning. And when I got back from the bathroom, she was still asleep. Which wasn't a huge surprise. Loves her sleep, does Brie. I pulled on my Belle and Sebastian T-shirt, walked across the room, and looked out of the window.
The pavement was already glistening; bumblebees, fat and stupid from too much pollen, buzzed lazily around the lavender bush in her front garden. It was going to be another of those hot summer days when the air seems to shimmer with possibilities. So I didn't know why Brie was wrapped around her flowery duvet like it was the dead of winter.
I tugged gently on the chocolate-brown hair that was all that was visible of her.
"Hey! Sleepy girl! You need to get your arse out of bed," I whispered, leaning down to uncover her ear. "If we're late for the first day, I'm going to claim ownership of the iPod for the whole week."
She gave a tiny, delicate moan and burrowed deeper under the duvet.
It was time for Plan B. "Okay, I'm going to rifle through your underwear drawer, find your grungiest knickers, and sell them on eBay."
The covers were sloughed off with an indignant squeak. "Ewww, that's gross," she mumbled. "And I don't have any grungy knickers."
Brie emerging from sleep is like watching a flower slowly unfurl its petals. She stretched slowly, pink tongue poking out of her mouth as she yawned, her hands curled into fists as she batted the air like a playful kitten.
"What color am I?" she asked eagerly, kicking back her duvet and kneeling to investigate.
I looked at the pale thighs emerging from her boxer shorts.
"Well," I said consolingly. "You're a sort of clotted cream color, and yesterday you were more of a semi-skimmed milk. The sheets, on the other hand, are seriously bronzed."
Brie looked up from dismayed contemplation of her legs and stared at the fake-tan stains on the sheets as if she wasn't quite sure how they got there.
"Well, I'm not going to that drama club thingy," she announced simply, lying back down and pulling the duvet back over her head. "I'm meant to have a tan! I can't act if I'm not looking good." The last two sentences were muffled, and then the Brie-shaped hump started shaking slightly, and I knew she was crying.
Sometimes I worry about how Brie will cope when something genuinely catastrophic happens instead of the usual crap that she deems weep-worthy. If Timberlake, her cat, died, or she found out she had six weeks to live, or her hair fell out, she'd probably have to have a Prozac drip installed.
It really wasn't the right time for Brie to be having one of her regularly scheduled weepathons. I'd begged and cajoled and pleaded to get her to sign up for the summer drama workshop that was starting today. Getting her through the auditions, getting her to pass her audition, had taken years off my tender, young life. Because no way, no how, was I going to spend another summer watching daytime TV and eating crisps while Brie watched me eating crisps and occasionally snuck one into her mouth when she thought I wasn't looking.
Getting Brie out of bed and in the mood to kick some drama-workshop butt wasn't just a matter of necessity. It was a matter of life and death. Like that bit in a movie when there's a bomb with a ticking clock attached to it, and it's counting down sixty seconds, and the guy who knows whether the red or the blue wire should be cut isn't going to talk. Down-and-dirty tactics was all that I had left.
"Okay, don't come," I said, like I didn't care in the slightest, while bouncing up and down on her bed in a manner that I knew was going to piss her off. "It's not my problem if you have nothing else in life and you fail )'our certificate in Beauty Therapy Sciences and have to end up pretending that you're between jobs when really you're working in a call center or worse! Yeah! You're working in Burger King, and the grease is clogging up your pores, and you can't afford proper products anymore, so all the shine has gone from your hair because you're using supermarket own-brand shampoo."
It worked. There was an anguished moan from the bedclothes, and then Brie was falling out of bed to shoot me a baleful glare before disappearing into the bathroom.
It would be at least three-quarters of an hour before she was ready, so I turned on her ceramic hair straighteners and headed down to the kitchen.
Brie's house smells of furniture polish and Glade PlugIns with an overpowering topnote of Dunhill International cigarettes and Gucci flush, courtesy of her mum. The smell is only temporarily relieved when you're in Brie's room, which stinks of fake tan and Anna Sui Sweet Dreams.
Everything in Brie's house is white and gold to match Linda, who vacuums three times a day. You have the audacity to eat a bag of crisps while you're waiting for Brie to get off the telephone, and there she is trying to trip you up with her Dyson.
Linda looked up when I walked into the kitchen and waved the coffeepot at me enticingly. "Morning, sweetie. You're looking particularly handsome today. Pity you couldn't find a hairbrush, though." I could tell that Linda had only had one cup of coffee. Usually she's not quite so laid-back.
I kissed her on the cheek, grabbed a mug from the cupboard, and sat down at the kitchen table, where Henry, Brie's angelic-looking younger brother, was shoveling cornflakes into his gaping maw. This prevented him from sticking his tongue out or giving me the finger, which is what I usually get from him by way of a greeting. Little shit.
Mr. Brie, or Dave as I never call him, was cowering behind the Daily Mail as usual and giving the appearance of a man on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
"It's Charlie," Linda announced unnecessarily. Mr. Brie moved his paper aside to give me a nod, but Henry didn't even bother to look up from spraying milk and cereal all over the table. He did manage to reach under the table and kick me extra hard on the shin, though.
At least Linda gave me a cup of extra-strong coffee before we embarked on our usual conversation.
"So, how are you, Charlie?" (She has this really annoying habit of saying my name at the end of every sentence like she has to remind herself who she's talking to.)
"I'm fine, Linda. How are you?"
"Well, I wish I could say I was fine, but I'm not, Charlie. How's your mum?"
"So you and Brie were home very late last night, Charlie. I hope you gave her a chance to meet other boys, because she'll meet someone else, you know, and then you'll be wishing that you'd been more thrusting and dynamic and grabbed her when you had the chance," Linda said brightly, tapping her cigarette into the ashtray, which was nestled next to the milk jug on the kitchen table. Even a hardened smoker like myself winced at Linda's relaxed attitude to smoking near fresh dairy.
Mr. Brie snorted a couple of times at this damning indictment of my girl-getting skills, because his gaydar is far more evolved than his wife's, which is actually quite disturbing when you think about it.
"I'm not really into girls, Linda." Which she knew damn well. "But if I was, then I'm sure me and Brie would be picking out china patterns and saving for our honeymoon. And anyway you must be secretly relieved that I don't have dishonorable intentions toward your daughter."
"Hmm, you say that, Charlie, but I'm sure if the right girl were to come along, you'd stop all this nonsense. It's just a shame that Brie isn't pretty enough to change your mind."
Which of course was Brie's cue to trip into the kitchen just in time to hear her mother's judgment on her looks.
For a second her face collapsed. Her perfect little smudge of a nose wrinkled up, and her green eyes went cloudy. There was even a slight lip tremble until her features righted themselves into their eternal loveliness. I didn't know what Linda was on because, really, Brie is ridiculously gorgeous.
Brie shook her newly straightened hair out of her eyes, blinked a couple of times, and then sidled nearer so she could give me a good-morning kiss.
"I don't suppose you woke me up too early 'cause I haven't had breakfast yet, you know?" She was already moving past me to investigate the contents of the fridge.
"No, I'm on time, and you're late. Again. Can we go?"
But was Brie concerned with being hideously late for our first day of drama group? Yeah, right! In the Brie-verse, there were far more important things to worry about.
"There's no bacon or eggs or sausages," she whined at Linda with a wounded look on her face. "I have to have a fry-up for breakfast. You know I'm not doing carbs."
Linda tapped out another cigarette from the packet and knocked the filter tip against her frosted pink talons. "You shouldn't eat all that fatty food, you'll get porky. I'm sure you've put on weight since last week."
And then Brie looked down in horror at her thin little legs in their Diesel jeans, and Linda's work here was done.
I got up-careful not to scrape back my chair on the newly waxed kitchen floor-then grabbed my bag and Brie.
"Get something to eat now, and then we're going," I said in my most "don't mess with me, bitch" voice, the one I use exclusively to chivvy Brie along.
There was a sorrowful sigh, which would have made a lesser being break down in tears. I just gave her a flinty-eyed look and waved my watch in her face until she grabbed a bag of salt-and-vinegar crisps from the cupboard and a can of Diet Coke from the fridge.
"Well, bye bye, sweetie," Linda said, and I wasn't entirely sure which one of us she was speaking to. "Break a leg or something."
Brie muttered something that may or may not have been "bitch" under her breath and picked up her Louis Vuitton Murakami Cherry Blossom bag from the stairs as I followed her out.
We stepped out into the blinding sunlight and simultaneously reached for our sunglasses. Brie was studying the nutritional information on the back of the crisps packet, her lips moving as she sounded out the words. "Seventeen point three grams of carbs," I heard her mutter. "I should be able to digest them by seven tonight."
I reached around to give her waist a comforting squeeze. "Linda has issues on her issues, right? And she only says mean stuff about you because she can't handle that you're cute and hot and she's thundering toward menopause."
Brie tucked her arm into mine and pulled her Von Dutch baseball cap down so she wouldn't freckle. "But, Charlie, you would tell me if I was fat, wouldn't you?"
Brie was wearing tight, low-rider jeans, which showed off her practically concave stomach to its best advantage. Then there was the floaty, gauzy top, which may have been a pocket handkerchief in another life. "Brie, you are not fat. You are as far from fat as it's possible to be. Now shut the luck up because this conversation is getting really boring." And there was a God because she shut up and actually started walking, giving us an outside chance of catching the bus and getting to Camden before ten.
"We haven't had the postmortem about last night," I reminded her as we got to the bus stop, and she squinted up at the indicator board to see how long it would be before the bus chugged into view.
Brie didn't answer for a while because she was digging around in her bag. But eventually she pulled out her Lancome Juicy Tube in Marshmallow, slicked it over her lips, and answered me. "There wasn't a single guy in there who knew how to dress." Pause, while she gave me a Significant Look from under her lashes. "Not like you."
"That's because I'm gay, sweetie. Being a style icon is all part of my genetic coding."
"I wish you weren't gay."
"I wish that you didn't wish that I wasn't gay."
Brie and I have this conversation at least five times every day. I love her, she's my best friend, but even if I was straight or she was a boy, I'm not entirely sure that we'd go out or ever have one frenzied night of passion on her Calvin Klein bed linen.
I'm an indie/emo hybrid. All my T-shirts have faded in the wash, and I cut my hair with nail scissors and bleach the ends when I get bored. I own three pairs of Converse All Star low-tops, each one more battered than the last, and I bite my nails. Though I do have an incredibly chiseled jawline, if you happened to be comparing me to, say, someone who didn't have a jawline at all. And if I was straight, which I'm not, the kind of girl I'd want to fall wildly and passionately and madly in love with would be Brody from the Distillers.
Brie, meanwhile, is a pastel-colored princess who'd love to get me into Gucci anything and has offered many times to actually pay for me to get my hair properly highlighted. She also has a disturbing tendency to dress like a Desperate Housewife.
Which is not to say she doesn't appreciate my not-so-inconsiderable charms. I'm very; pretty, in a manly kind of way.
"Ooooh, Charlie, you have the longest, fluffiest boylashes I've ever seen," she's fond of saying, before getting huffy because she has to apply two coats of Eyelure Kiss Me Mascara to get the same effect.
As we got on the bus and I gave the driver two tickets because Brie never manages to get it together to buy the prepaid books, she turned to me, mouthed an apology, and smiled.
"I don't know.' what I'd do without you," she murmured, before heading for the stairs, and I realized that even though she annoyed the hell out of me and there was no reason for our friendship whatsoever, I couldn't think of another person in this world that I'd want to be my best friend.
The ride into Camden was pretty uneventful. Mostly we hoped that the fat goth boy who'd stunk of patchouli oil and glommed on to us when we'd auditioned, hadn't made the final cut.
"It took me forever to get the stink out of my hair," Brie remembered with a shudder. "I hope everyone's nice. And cute. I need cute boys this summer. Lots of them."
"I hear you," I said feelingly. "One cute boy for you and one for me. We could double-date." I rubbed her shoulder. "So, honey, you ready for your close-up?"
Brie suddenly squinched up her face as if she was in great pain. "Shit!" she exclaimed. "I forgot about the whole acting thing. That weird woman in charge, she's going to expect us to act, isn't she?"
I nodded gravely. "'Fraid so. I think it's pretty much a prerequisite of a drama group."
"Don't use long words, they give me a headache." Brie looked at her half-eaten bag of crisps and then violently threw them down the bus, earning her glares from a couple of grannies who didn't appreciate getting crisp crumbs in their blue rinses. "Oh God, I feel sick. I don't want everyone staring at me. Why did I let you talk me into this?"
Knowing very well that she's the biggest drama queen this side of wherever Paris Hilton lives, I didn't really waste much time consoling Brie. Instead I clasped her hand in mine and gave it a little shake.
"Listen, Brie," I said urgently. "We're going to make a pact."
"What kind of pact? I'm not spitting on your hand or nothing 'cause that's really unhygienic."
I swear to God, I have the patience of a saint. "We are going to swear on our iPod that we will do everything in our power, short of illegal acts, to score the lead roles in whatever lame play we end up spending our entire summer working on. Okay?"
"But what if-"
"Brie! Do Beyonce or Christina or whichever lame MTV diva you're mostly admiring this week waste their time with what-ifs? No, they spend all their energy on looking fabulous and cutting down any bitch that dares get in their way. So, swear on the freakin' iPod."
"You are so gay."
"Finally you're on message about that, great. Have we got a pact or not?"
She pouted for precisely five seconds and then solemnly shook my hand. "Okay, we'll do this pact thing, then."
Excerpted from Pretty Things by Sarra Manning Copyright © 2005 by Sarra Manning. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Sarra Manning started her writing career on the music paper, Melody Maker, than spent five years working on the legendary UK teen mag, J17, first as a writer, then as Entertainment Editor. Subsequently she edited teen fashion bible Ellegirl UK and the BBC's What To Wear magazine.
Sarra now writes for ELLE, Grazia, Red, InStyle, the Guardian, the Mail On Sunday's You magazine, Harper's Bazaar, Stylist and the Sunday Telegraph's Stella. Her YA novels, which include Guitar Girl, Let's Get Lost, the Diary Of A Crush trilogy and Nobody's Girl have been translated into numerous languages and her first grown-up novel, Unsticky, was published in 2009.
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Vapid prep. Gay Boy. Chauvinistic Player. Angry Lesbian. Each of the individuals in Pretty Things can be defined by their sexual orientation and their stereotypes. This story is set in the United Kingdom and portrays the summer of four eighteen year olds who begin to dig deeper than the stereotypes that have previously defined them as a result of their participation in a drama workshop. The author¿s portrayal of sexuality, drug and alcohol use is a bit too liberal for my taste however, I found myself becoming invested in the characters as each person told his/her story of events through his/her own first person perspective. That cavalier, liberal treatment of behavior with some fairly serious consequences at such a young age would be my major caveat about this story. Still, the author does an amazing job of demonstrating how the boxes that we put each other into frequently keep us from appreciating how universal our struggles really are. Teen homosexuality appears to be a recurring theme in recent young adult literature. In this book, both of the young people who described themselves as gay (one male, one female) decided to dabble in heterosexuality which tends to support the ideal that homosexuality is a lifestyle decision rather than a genetic one. As a belief that many diversity teachers have tried to overcome, it seems a bit simplistic for the author to define her work in those terms. Overall, I think the book might have some curricular benefit with respect to discussing relationships and/or personal choices, but if I were to use it within a classroom it would be under some carefully facilitated discussions.
I have no clue why people like this book. I have all the respect in the world for homosexual beings and anyone who is an individual, but this book was just stupid. All it was about was four teens who end up sleeping with each other, and getting drunk (gee what does that sound like? Huh! I know Mannings other book Guitar Girl) I found the plot thin, and request to anyone who reads it to at least have some damn good music on do you're not bored out of your mind--actually you know what just dont read it. But feel free to listen to some good music. Oh, and by the way to the girl that thinks she relates to Brie PS thats not a good thing.
Wooooww. I didn't know a book could be this...sucky. It started off with four confused teens, and ended with four confused teens. Two that were gay and stupid, two that were straight and stupid. No plot. Except Brie gaining confidence, and Charlie...actually no. Nothing happened really to Charlie. I'll never get those hours back.
This book was pretty much a waste of time. Unless you like reading about two gay teens who are confused and two straight teens who are equeally confused, then you won't enjoy this book. Just like Guitar Girl made me feel sort of angry at the end, Pretty things seemed to have the same effect. I guess No More Sarra Manning books for me.
It made me laugh out loud, and that's what I always search for in a book. At one point (When Charlie gets "excited") my eyes were watering so much that my mom thought i was crying. X) Its fun and quirky, just what a teen under stress needs.
Pretty Things by Sarra Manning relates to many now-a-day situations. This novel takes place in North London. The overall explanation of this book is about young love and drama. Brie love designer things such as Louis Vuitton bags and is in love with her gay best friend Charlie. Charlie has a crush on Walker, the most popular, outgoing boy. He's a ladies man who's never been in love until he meets Daisy. Daisy, unlike the other characters, hates everyone. This book was an easy read and I enjoyed it aswell.
Brie, Charlie, Walker and Daisy are four teens stuck in a love rectangle. The four of them are involved in a local theater production of "The Taming of the Shrew." Brie and Charlie are best friends, and all Brie wants more than anything is for Charlie to be straight, because she is in love with him. Charlie just wants Brie to accept that he is gay, and madly in love with Walker. Walker is womanizer and madly in love with Daisy. Daisy is a strong- willed lesbian who is in love with her girlfriend. As the story unfolds Daisy and Walker end up together, Brie and Charlie have a falling out, and Brie finds her own boyfriend. It isn't until the end of the book when they are all brought back together when Brie's boyfriend tries to rape her. Brie and Charlie reunite and accept each other's sexualities, and Daisy ends up with both her girlfriend and Walker. Brie is a girl that tries to fit in with everyone. She is very weak and does not like to be alone. She always follows Charlie until he and her have a falling out, and she finds who she really is, a strong dependent woman. Charlie is a very flamboyant gay teenager. He is a "scene" kid that listens to punk rock bands like The White Stripes. He is the dominant one in his and Brie's friendship, until he finds himself switching roles with her in the end of the book. Walker is a womanizer. He does not respect women and has developed the name "Shagger." Walker thinks no woman can resist his "charm," until he meets Daisy who cannot stand him, which is part of the reason he is so attracted to her. Daisy is a strong- willed lesbian. She is anti-straight, and does not like straight boys, until she finds herself attracted to Walker, and then is confused about her sexuality. She ends up being bisexual at the end of the book and shares a relationship with Walker and her girlfriend. "And besides, I do believe in love and one day it will happen, I know it will. It won't be anything like the love I feel for my best friends, which makes me feel slightly sad at times. But it will be for someone who can love me back, who won't be able to live without me, and whose face will light up whenever I walk into the room. Someone who will send me cute texts just to say they're thinking of me. It will be perfect for me. And no matter when we fight and argue to huge extents, we will make up the next day, or hour. Yes, I do believe in love because if there wasn't that type of love waiting for the right moment to bring two people together, then what's the point of being alive?" -Brie I think this quote is important to understanding the novel because it pretty much is what the book is about, finding their soul mate. Unfortunately Brie and Charlie don't find that someone in the book, because they can't find someone that they love or loves them more than each other. They aren't a couple, and will never be a couple, but they have each other, and that's good enough for them. Daisy and Walker do find their soul mates, although Walker needs to share his with another girl, but that is good for him, because he loves Daisy enough to do that for her. I really do like this quote and I think it does a really good job of summing up the main point of this novel. I really didn't like this book. It wasn't bad, or painful to read, it just wasn't about anything. It didn't have a real plot to it, and I felt that it was a waste to read it, because I didn't get anything out of it.
Nah. I wasn't a fan of the book. I thought it would be more interesting and funnier, but it just pissed me off. The plot was very thin, the only real resolution was Brie gaining convidence. The only thing that happened over the course of the novel was that all the teens managed to get really drunk, sleep with each other, and get really really angry at one another. Half the book was just the characters complaining and using a lot of bad language. It didn't bring about any earth-shattering realizations about homosexuals, and made it seem that one can choose their sexuality. There are better books than this one, and I don't recommend it.
Pretty Things by Sarra Manning is probably my favorite book right now. I'm sure what happens in the story has happened to everyone. You fall in love with someone who either cannot love you back or just doesn't want to. Everyone has had a best friend who at times they completely despise. It's part of growing up, right? I've now read Pretty Things and Guitar Girl, and i must say that Pretty Things is better, IMO. Sarra Manning is a completely wonderful writer, and this story just potrays so much emotion. Brie is a little ditzy, but by the end, she is smart, brave, and stands up for herself. Charlie is the perfect guy, and he can't love Brie back. He's just not wired that way. Walker's a dickhead. He's the sort of guy you wish you were friends with, but once you are, you sort of realize how much of a 'wanker' he really is. Daisy is a hypocrite. That's all i have to say about her. These characters pissed me off, made me laugh, and almost made my cry. I'll say it again...Sarra Manning is brilliant.
This book was full of humor, romance, drama and even a little but of action. It had a bit of everything you can say. It is a really cute story based of four totally different peoples' persecptive and so you just get everyones' opinion. It's full out twists and turns that keep you wanting to read more. This book also made song references which I really loved.
i got this book in the begining of the summer & when i started to read it i stopped after about 5 pages because it was boring. a couple of weeks ago i gave it another try and i stuck with it through the beginning and now its probabaly one of the best books ive ever read. i just fell in love with the storyline, characters, & the relationship between charlie and brie. the beginning is a little hard to get into but after that you get hooked. they also use a bit of british words like mates instead of friends, since it takes place over there. i would recommend this book to anyone! you wont regret reading it.
this book was sort of boring in the beginning but towards the middle and the end it got much more interesting. i ended up loving this book.
To be completely blunt about this book, I'm here to say that it's pretty much the best book I've ever read so far. I'm usually a person to get hooked on books and have something about them pop up into my mind when something similar apperas in my life. So basically, this book has many things I can relate to (In this whole nothing of this book has anything to dow ith my life, and yet I can relate to it in some weird way). So yea. ^o^ Big thumbs up for this book guys.
this was a pretty darn good book. i mean it was just so sweet and all the charcters were very believable. and i like the plot. very different and good. theres like so many good parts to it. tho at the end it leaves you wondering, lol. but yeah, good. i'd recommend it to anyone whose very open minded. ^_^
I loved this book & I'm amazed by the bad reviews. Pretty Things is funny and reminds me of my friends and all theh different stuff that we go through. I loved that everyone spoke so British. I think that if you have a problem with this book, it's because you have a problem with the whole gay issue in it and that's really immature. Be open-minded like the characters in Pretty Things!
this was the worst book i have ever read, sure the story plot is good and all and it makes you want to read it but the author is truly bad! Do not read this book unless you are looking for a bad book