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Pretty Little Mistakes
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Pretty Little Mistakes

4.0 32
by Heather McElhatton

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There are hundreds of lives sown inside Pretty Little Mistakes, Heather McElhatton's singularly spectacular, breathtakingly unique novel that has more than 150 possible endings. You may end up in an opulent mansion or homeless down by the river; happily married with your own corporation or alone and pecked to death by ducks in London; a Zen master in Japan


There are hundreds of lives sown inside Pretty Little Mistakes, Heather McElhatton's singularly spectacular, breathtakingly unique novel that has more than 150 possible endings. You may end up in an opulent mansion or homeless down by the river; happily married with your own corporation or alone and pecked to death by ducks in London; a Zen master in Japan or morbidly obese in a trailer park.

Is it destiny or decision that controls our fate? You can't change your past and start over from scratch in real life—but in Pretty Little Mistakes, you can! But be warned, choose wisely.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Adults who remember the Choose Your Own Adventure YA novels are the target audience for this debut from Public Radio International producer McElhatton. The book opens with a female second person's high school graduation, which leads "you" to two possible choices: travel or college. Each succeeding section (mostly between one and four pages) similarly offers two options for proceeding, leading to an impressive array of possible developments, from a trip to Rome that can result in a live-in Italian artist boyfriend, to a dead-end job as a phone sex operator with the moniker of Stormy Sioux. Situations include the playfully surreal, such as a stint in a German circus as a nude ice dancer, and the tender, as in a life lived on the Iceland coast with a lovely, seal-obsessed child who has Down syndrome and a devoted scientist husband. There's also crystal meth addiction, rape, death by explosion, bursts of salty humor and moments of descriptive lyricism, especially in McElhatton's many vivid imaginings of the afterlife ("heaven is a junk shop... broken beauty everywhere"). Nevertheless, many situations are cartoonish; some of the events repeat or overlap; and "You" remains a cipher, making this "Do-Over Novel" more role-playing for the rut-stuck than a good read. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
An adult Choose Your Own Adventure from public-radio producer McElhatton. As in that vintage children's series, the protagonist-you-is offered many choices en route to 150 different endings. One major difference, however, is that McElhatton's debut confronts such decidedly mature dilemmas as whether or not to remain the houseguest of Alouette, nee Rashid, a London-based Indian transvestite privy to the ways of the bordello and even the "gloryhole." Those fondly remembered children's mysteries never posited a protagonist on a heroin-peddling caravan, rocketing around Western Europe and leaving a trail of overdosed corpses in the rearview mirror. The author breaks new ground by taking an unsophisticated, gimmicky form and injecting it with a whopping dosage of X-rated content. Whether that innovation leads anywhere worth going is debatable. A book in which the teenage, sexually promiscuous narrator is beaten half-unconscious by her high-school boyfriend is presumably not intended for young readers. Adults, by contrast, while certainly capable of dealing with references to forced female circumcision and cunnilingus, are not likely to take seriously the "create your own ending" format. McElhatton has written an occasionally clever book that will appeal only to a very limited audience of grown-up readers who are unfazed by its methodology. It's the equivalent of an adults-only coloring book: what's the point?Interesting to read for about ten minutes, but some things really are just for kids. Agent: Elizabeth Sheinkman/Elaine Markson Literary Agency

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.15(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Pretty Little Mistakes
A Do-Over Novel

Chapter One

Laughter and fistfights. Lasagna thrown on the cafeteria floor, geometry books burning in the garbage cans, Sidra Stanislow finally losing her virginity up against the Dumpsters behind the memorial auditorium. All the janitors are getting high. The teachers' lounge is choked with stifled arguments and the vending machines are empty. It's the last day of high school.

You're graduating. Rushing headlong into the unknown rest of your life. Your friends are drifting off in every direction. Some are going to college, some are going to work, and some are going to their parents' basements to smoke pot and watch reality TV. As you see it, there are two options. Go to college and get ahead or take some time off and go traveling. If you get a degree, you might have a decent income—but if you go traveling, you might have an excellent adventure. Both have merits, both have drawbacks. Neither is permanent, and this makes the decision harder.

Take into account that your boyfriend has already decided to go to college and he wants you to come with him. (You've been together ever since he annihilated your virginity in an abandoned Christmas tree shack by the highway.) He's handsome and he loves you. The two of you have really great sex. He's big. (You know, big.) You see college as the responsible choice and travel as the fun choice, but then again college can be fun and traveling can be disastrous. The choice is yours. Your grandparents have given you a small chunk of money for graduation—just enough to get you going in whichever direction you choose.

If you decide to go tocollege, go to section #2 (page 4).

If you decide to travel, go to section #3 (page 5).

Pretty Little Mistakes
A Do-Over Novel
. Copyright © by Heather McElhatton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Heather McElhatton produced the award-winning literary series Talking Volumes. Her commentaries have been heard on This American Life, Marketplace, Weekend America, Sound Money, and The Savvy Traveler. She lives in Key West with her pug, Walter.

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Pretty Little Mistakes 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
FDRoe_282 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love this book, I picked it up noticing it was a do-over novel (or choose your own adventure) type book for adults. This book is wonderful as soon as I finished (or die in the book due to a drug-dealing Austrailian) I went back to the beginning of the book and read it again, and again, and again. Honestly, I never got sick of it. It's a wonderfully fun read for anyone (except for perhaps children under the age of 16.) It's enjoyable. I would certainly reccommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the choose your own adventure books as a child, or anyone who would like a book that is a different pace then you're average fiction book. =D
SydneyKris More than 1 year ago
This book was crazy! I can't how many times i died in this book! One time i got stabbed by a drug-dealing Australian! I couldn't put it down! Each time i ended a section, i would go back to the beginning and start over again!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I have been totally consumed for days. I can't seem to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The fact you can read it in so many diffrent ways is cool. It is a diffrent story everytime. You decide your out come.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just want to say that I got this book as a birthday present, and I had already gone through 15 possible endings before I went to bed. I can't believe I hadn't found this before I got it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some things are for kids for a reason the charm and interest wears off after a bit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its like a game where you choosyour life
Fivezenses More than 1 year ago
Okay so this novel isn't for everyone, especially for those that like a novel to stick to a normal routine of telling a story from beginning to end. This does that, but with a handful or your own that you can choose instead. The reason for that is there are 150 endings to choose from in the book! Growing up I was into the Goosepbump books that let you choose your story. Not only was I totally into those covers (they were pretty awesome for Goosebump books!), but I loved changing the story into something more interesting. I was the kid that would mark my page if there were two choices and then go back to it if the one ended too quickly or was too insane for me. I still did that with this novel. It has some grown-up themes to it, so maybe this wouldn't be a good book for those under the age of 15 (i.e. - sex, drugs, and a few other descriptive things that most YA books don't have!). Anyway, the book starts off with you either choosing to go to college or off traveling. From there depending on which choice you make you can either go into an art program or science program or travel to europe and have your life changed. Along the way things get more complicated and life gets a little too real for the choices you make or just a little crazy, because let's face it, it's fiction, but still really interesting fiction. I've gotten to read about 20 or more different endings so far, but all of which have been really interesting. I've died a handful, been shot, grown old and happy, grown old and sad, fall in love, been cheated on by men, been discovered, became famous, made my parents proud or shamed them, lived out my dreams, made miserable choices, and still trying to get to every ending! No two endings are the same. And that's what I love the most. It makes you wonder, "what if I choose to fly to...?" or "should I have gone to that show with...?" or even "was that a really big mistake to...?" This book I think is for those that get frustrated when books don't go the way they like it and wish they could have chosen something else or are the types always wondering "what if...?" about their own life in general.
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shelleychick More than 1 year ago
I love this book! It is 150 little stories in one! I am waiting for McElhattons second do-over novel to arrive in summer 2010 (I think). The second one is titled Million Little Mistakes, and begins with you winning the lottery.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's like one of those old James bond books, where you start the story and then at a certain point you have to make a decision as to how you would like to proceed. That's exactly what this books is like. I've created over 10 diferent life outcomes for myself,YOU are the main character, since I've gotten this book. This book is entertaining to say the least.
annultsch More than 1 year ago
the idea was completey different from anything i had ever seen so i took a chance with this book. I enjoyed being able to go through several of the different paths. However, i thought that most of the situations were a little too drastic. Most of them dealt with heavy drug use and/or death and murder. It was a little intense and i don't think that choosing to go to art school would automatically mean that you start doing drugs and dating an abusive boyfriend, some of it just seemed a little too much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BellaBellamy More than 1 year ago
This book isn't like any other book. You pick what happens and what choices the character (you) make. Not so great for book clubs, since everyone's ending is different. It's great if you ever wonder what would have happened if you did this or that. You can 'read' it as many times as you like, but it's more like a game then a nice read. It'll keep you entertained, thats for sure! *Not recommended for kids under 15, for it has some...situations...
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