By Maggie Mitchell
Published by Orion (16 July 2015)
The summer precocious Lois and pretty Carly May were twelve years old, they were kidnapped, driven across the country, and held in a cabin in the woods for two months by a charismatic stranger. Nearly twenty years later, Lois has become a professor, teaching British literature at a small college in upstate New York, and Carly May is an actress in Los Angeles, drinking too much and struggling to revive her career. When a movie with a shockingly familiar plot draws the two women together once more, they must face the public exposure of their secret history and confront the dark longings and unspeakable truths that haunt them still.
Pretty Is is a well written original debut, with beautiful flowing narrative.
Two women were kidnapped together when they were 12. One was a pageant queen, the other a spelling bee champion. Now adults, both remain brilliant and beautiful yet psychologically damaged from the abduction.
Rather than a thriller, as indicated by the blurb, this is more of a study into the psychology of abduction and how the two girls managed to move on with their lives. Most of the book is set decades after the abduction, looking at its emotional impact and the women's relationships with friends, family and colleagues. There's a stalking subplot going on too, which creates suspense and tension.
While I love the writing style and underlying story, I did feel somewhat dissatisfied, as if something was missing. The kidnapper never touched the two girls in an appropriate manner. But he didn't live to give his side of the story. You can only guess what his motives were. There were many key questions that remained unanswered, which could be a letdown for a lot of readers. Yet I loved the writing style and underlying story, which kept me reading until the end.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.