So Much Pretty

So Much Pretty

by Cara Hoffman
3.5 28


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So Much Pretty 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
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
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
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.
DanBooker More than 1 year ago
An extremely well written novel of violence in small town America. A great group of characters.... a great location to set such a violent story. Hoffman feeds you little bits of the main story as you begin to learn more about each of the characters and then delivers a powerful ending. Watch for this one... people will be talking about it.
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
his has to be one of the creepiest books I have ever read yet, believe it or not, it was almost impossible to put down. Taking place in a small town called Haeden, located in New York state, So Much Pretty is a very sinister and angry story of denial by residents of this small town who know all about the events that have occurred but absolutely refuse to accept or discuss them. Wendy White was a nice country girl who had just moved out of her family home to try independence on for size. Life was good; she had her first real boyfriend and was working her first real job as a waitress at a local bar when she came up missing. Progress by the local police in solving her disappearance doesn't happen and gradually things go back to normal (or a reasonable facsimile) and the case remains unsolved. Stacy Flynn is a reporter who has moved to Haeden from Cleveland, which was heavy with violence and crime. The "bad side of life" is the last thing that Stacy thinks will be a part of her world in the hamlet of Haeden. After all, this is a small town where a dairy farm is the main employer. However, the population of Haeden is made up of families who have lived there for years, and the last thing they want is for an outsider to come into their community and "mess" things up...which is exactly what Stacy is about to do. As she begins working on a story of the environmental impact of the farm, and how runoff from the farm is likely to poison the people and animals who live on the edges of the town, things begin to unravel for the small town and their best kept secret comes to light. Five months after Wendy White disappeared, her body turns up in a ditch near Haeden, and all of a sudden Stacy has another story to investigate. Nobody in town is anxious to speak with her, and the residents who do state unequivocally that Wendy's murderer is definitely not a local. As Stacy delves into the environmental issues and Wendy's disappearance, she starts to become suspicious of the town and it's people. This story, being more than a little confusing, will make the reader go back and forth - at times liking the plot and then disliking it, depending on the chapter. As a debut novel, there was a ton of thought put into the story and characters, which were certainly true to life where small town communities beliefs', loyalties, and politics are concerned. Quill Says: An intelligent and imaginative look at small town life and the ability to overlook the obvious when it suits your purposes.
PDXia More than 1 year ago
Cara Hoffman's debut novel, So Much Pretty, is an extraordinarily smart and beautifully written page turner. This suspenseful and highly charged story is of a young woman, Wendy White, who goes missing in the rural town of Haeden in upstate New York. Stacey Flynn, a transplanted reporter from Cleveland, clashes with local townspeople whom she believes know more than they're saying. Alice Piper is the precocious young daughter of transplanted hippies whose idealized dream of country living comes crashing down around them. In no time at all, White's disappearance turns to tragedy and the Piper family is forever changed. Hoffman passionately blends the issue of violence against women that lurks unacknowledged at the dark edges of our culture with a narrative that paints a grim picture of any-town America. Hoffman's literary voice is a force and this novel will leave you reeling.
Anonymous 12 months ago
A tragedy that documents the trajectory of a precocious, free-spirited child and the accidental, incidental influences that change the course set by her well-intentioned parents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mccubma More than 1 year ago
Not an easy book to read. The timeline was nearly impossible to follow and parts of the book simply did not make sense. I almost gave up on it. Would have been a good book if it was laid out a little more carefully.
Camboron More than 1 year ago
I try not to give FIVE STARS lightly, but, when judging within the genre of the book, you don't really have a choice with this one. There was great usage of jumping back and forth through time, to reveal the story, and the motivations behind it. This is how, when one reflects on one's own mysteries, things are truly revealed in our own lives. Jumping back and forth as pieces of it become relevant and provide us with clues to our own actions. Cara Hoffmann succeeded, not only in delivering a tension-filled plot, but also got you from A to B believably. Once you start to get an inkling of what is going to happen, you wonder how it's going to happen. Most authors settle for a deus ex machina, but SO MUCH PRETTY gets you there believably and organically. I also really liked the usage of "real-life" documents and interviews interspersed within the narrative to add authenticity. When writers can do this effectively, straight-forwardly, it really makes you forget that this isn't really happening. This was done to good effect in WORLD WAR Z. Also, concerning the New York doctor clique, and the reasons for some of them moving to the country, could have been too political, too much of a "message" to insert in a book, but these passages and glimpses stemmed from such a real intelligence and character background, that they contributed to the story. To effectively weave these ideologies in, unlike John Twelve Hawks Traveler Trilogy, is also masterful. Thanks for the ride!
tonyaleeh_2 More than 1 year ago
Honestly, I didn't even finish this book. The pace and writing style was strange. I was over halfway through the book and didn't really understand where it was going AT ALL. Most of the chapters were in the past and very confusing to follow. I hoped the further I read, the more I would understand what the hell was going on, but I didn't. I was very disappointed because I read some good reviews on it. I wouldn't recommend to anyone.
Shanella More than 1 year ago
Something happened to Wendy and the town seems satisfied to ignore it. Everyone, except Stacy Flynn, is willing to go on with their lives. Flynn is the local journalist but an outsider, her story of Wendy's death causes a chain reaction and Alice is right in the middle. This murder mystery gripped me right from the beginning. I couldn't put the book down! There is a lot of questions raised on justice, ethics and the doing things for the good of human kind. It explores prejudices within communities, touches on environmental issues and is so realistic that I won't be surprised if I picked up the newspaper and read about Wendy White and Alice Piper. The narrative switches from first to third person and from different view points, so the story is fleshed out by all parties. The insertion of the video and audio interviews from some of the minor characters was a great touch and added an extra layer of reality to the book. Cara Hoffman did an excellent job in this debut novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
drbungee More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in "So Much Pretty" by the time I reached near the end. In fact, the last thirty pages are unnecessary. I had trouble keeping story lines straight until I realized I needed to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each chapter. The book would have been more interesting with less about Alice and more about Wendy. To me, there really was no climax. The writing, although tough to follow at times, kept me interested enough to find out more, but I didn't really care by the near end of the book. I'm glad I only borrowed this book and didn't purchase it. It's a shame, since it was recommended and I was really looking forward to reading it.
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Teach1831 More than 1 year ago
Loved every second of this book! There were some unanswered questions, but that is the nature if this story.
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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.
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