Andrea knows what it's like to be pretty. Thanks to her gorgeous, drug-addicted mother, she also knows where pretty can lead... At 16, Andrea is yanked from the safety of her Gram's home and dropped into the backwoods of Ohio, where she's coerced into working for her mother's drug-dealing boyfriend, Judd.
Unwilling to give up on her college dreams, Andrea spends her days trying to stay on the honor roll, and her nights packaging and delivering drugs. Judd is violent and manipulative, and Andrea often goes to bed with an empty stomach and a hardening heart.
The one bright spot in Andrea's life is a budding friendship with a charismatic girl named Chloe and her handsome cousin, Brick. These stolen moments of teenage normalcy make Andrea yearn for a way out, but fear and a sense of responsibility to her mother pull her back in. When things with Judd take a darker turn than she can bear, Andrea devises a plan to save herself. But freedom may cost her everything—and everyone—she cares about...
Gritty, heartfelt, and suspenseful, All Out of Pretty explores the complexities of self-preservation and addiction as well as the pain, and beauty, of letting go. It will appeal to fans of Sara Zarr and Sarah Dessen.
|Barnes & Noble
|12 - 13 Years
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The great poet John Keats once wrote, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Keats never knew my mother. I glance down at my watch again. Three hours. That’s how long it's been since Ayla left me in the car with a distracted wave and a promise to “be right back with some munchies.” Right. I’ll bet she bummed dinner off some guy at the bar and didn’t bother to get anything for me. Now she’s probably passed out somewhere. Or hooking up. Or maybe she can’t remember where the hell she parked. I never should have let Ayla go off on her own. I should know better than to trust a woman who can’t even remember to pay the rent. For about a millisecond, I consider hunting her down and dragging her drunk ass back here. Forcing her to deal with the cold, and the lack of food, and me. But when we first rolled into this tiny town, Ayla insisted on doing a drive-by of the local bars and I saw the bouncers standing outside. There’s no way I can pass for twenty-one. Most people don’t even believe I’m sixteen until I produce my driver’s license. I drag my fingers through my long, dark hair. It feels greasy. So does my face, which I haven’t washed properly in days. But when I lean forward and peer into the car’s rearview mirror, the girl staring back at me somehow still looks pretty. I scowl at her. Then I grab a pen and start scribbling in my notebook, the ink making deep indents on the page to match the ones on my forehead. The truth is, I used to like being pretty. I used to feel proud when girls at school wished out loud for my pale blue eyes, when boys stared as I walked past. It felt good, in the same way that spring grass tickles your toes or pearls feel fanciful looped around your neck. Even Gram would sometimes stand behind me, looking at our reflection in the hallway mirror, and say, “You’re stunning, Andrea—inside and out.” Then she’d beam at me like a proud mama bear, crinkling her nose until we both collapsed into giggles. I can’t remember the last time I giggled. I don’t even smile anymore. If I feel my lips twitching, I push the smile down, kick it into the dirt. I hide—not just my smile, but everything. The problem with being pretty is, people tend to notice you. And these days, being noticed is the last thing I want. My fingers ache from gripping the pen so tight. I stare down at my messy handwriting in the soft circle of light emanating from the roof of Gram’s car, knowing I won’t ever share the words I've written. They’re just a rant. I’ve already finished the essay Iwill turn in to my English teacher when spring break is over. It’s written in neat, vertical letters and it’s full of the fun things I did on vacation, like going to the waterpark and exploring the science museum. I call it my Rough Draft of Lies. I hate lying. But I can’t write honestly about the places I’ve been this week or this year. It’s remarkable, really, how many secrets I’ve accumulated in such a short stretch of time. A dull thudding starts in my temples and I begin to feel lightheaded from not having eaten in thirty-seven hours, from the worry that’s plagued me ever since we got evicted. Gathering our few blankets, I coil up in the backseat and rest my cheek against my dark green backpack. I lift my head slightly and punch the bag, trying to make the bumpy spots flat. If I can’t have food, then I’d like a good night’s sleep tonight. In a real bed. Not in the back of Gram’s Buick, with its stiff leather seats that remind me too much of her hands the day I found her. Inhale. Exhale. It’s so quiet that the smallest sounds are amplified. Like my breathing. And the lone moth repeatedly throwing itself against the windshield, attracted to the red glow of the dashboard security light. The thwp- thwp of its wings beating against the glass makes my own limbs ache in sympathy. Maybe I should shoo it away—or put it out of its misery. The frost will claim it tonight anyway. But that would mean unknotting myself from my own fragile cocoon, and I’m not that selfless. As time ticks by, the only thing keeping me remotely warm is my increasing anger. The bars must be closing, so where the hell is Ayla? My stomach rumbles and I press my fingers against the hollow of it. I stare out the window at the ink-blotted sky, where the moon hangs like a sentry between heaven and earth. Even if Ayla keeps pretending, I know we’re in trouble. Just like I know the sixteen cents in my pocket will buy me exactly nothing at the 24-hour gas station across the road. I also know there’s a dumpster on the other side of this lot. My eyes flick toward it. Before the thought has a chance to warp into an actual plan, bright lights blind me, a sharp wind whips into the car, and pointy-nailed fingers poke my shoulder. I shield my eyes, hoping it’s not a cop. Instead, I see Ayla’s gorgeous, flushed face blocking out the moon. “Wake up, wake up!” Her voice is giddy and high-pitched. She definitely scored dinner or she’d be growling and swearing at me. “Come on, Bones, we got a place to stay.” Bones. This is what she calls me instead of Andrea—the name Gram chose when I was born. I wish I could say Ayla’s nickname for me is a term of endearment, but I know better. Tugging off the blankets, I sit up and squint into the cold darkness. My lungs protest the frigid air, causing me to cough. A rainbow halo is smeared around the one lit parking lamp near the street. There’s a man under it, smoking a cigarette. He’s tall and strong-looking, not the cleanest sort. He doesn’t look at me. Just at Ayla in her tight black skirt and shimmery top. “That’s Judd.” Ayla smirks, like he’s some knight in shining armor. “We’re going to crash at his place.” She leans in to gather her belongings, which are strewn across the front seat of the car. I steal another glance at Judd, and he smiles. It’s uneven and awkward, an expression I can tell he avoids. Huh, I think. We have something in common. In the hazy lamplight I see that Judd’s hair is dirt brown where it’s not receding from his forehead. His face is long and fierce, like the skin has been stretched too tight. He might have been decent-looking at some point, but he’s at least ten years older than Ayla and he seems… haggard. I don’t bother pointing this out. I know Ayla’s giddiness is a ruse. She’s playing Judd, using him for what we need. She’s a parasite. And so am I, by default. Yes, I used to like being pretty. But if it means ending up like Ayla, I think I’ll pass.
What People are Saying About This
"A haunting and unflinching read that beautifully explores the intersection between strength and vulnerability, and what it means to be lost as well as found. Brilliant and unforgettable."
This portrayal of a smart, motivated teen who lives in an ugly, violent world feels so real that it is a terrifying, heartbreaking read. Ingrid Palmer's compelling storytelling on the very relevant topics of drug addiction and trafficking and sex trafficking and slavery will ring true for readers, particularly in areas of our country where this is a major problem. Just when it seems Andrea has turned a corner and is on the right path, Palmer throws in a twist and bad things come her way instead. Andrea's desperation and sense of hopelessness about her situation are palpable. The brave things she does to pull herself out of this world that she feels trapped in are plausible. I felt invested in and cared about what happened to Andrea and her friends. Other readers will, as well.
"All out of pretty is a great YA novel. I was very fond of 'Bones' and her survival skills. Most people do not realize how good they have it until they get an inside look at someone else's life. "
"An amazing read, full of heart and nail-biting suspense! Andrea's a smart, tough 16-year-old, but can she survive her mom's dangerous, drug-filled world? This book had me on the edge of my seat until the very last word." -
ALL OF OUT PRETTY is a beautifully painful tale of blurred lines between love and loss, trust and betrayal, hope and despair. As Andrea (aka 'Bones') sinks deeper into her mother's addict-driven life, I felt like her only ally and was desperate to read her to safety. Ingrid Palmer has crafted a page-turner that will leave readers with the feeling that no matter how bad things get, there is always a path to freedom.
"A raw, heart-wrenching story about all kinds of pretty in life. You won't be able to put it down until the very last page."
"Readers won't be able to put this book down. Unflinching in its depiction of a smart, yet vulnerable girl's descent into a back-woods world of violence, drugs, manipulation and control, it sneaks up on you unexpectedly. Andrea's story never strays too far from hope. It is this hope whether through unexpected friendships, memories of a loving grandmother or the survival instincts of a smart, yet vulnerable girl that make this book so compelling."
"A page-turner filled with realism, All Out of Pretty is an exciting read for young adults as well as adults. The characters all possess a strength that helps them survive, yet at the same time, they're extremely, vividly vulnerable."
"Raw and unforgettable. What combination of love, bravery, and cowardice keeps Andrea walking this harsh path alone? It's impossible not to root for her. I loved being inside of this book!"