Sunday, August 8, 2010

102 - Such a Pretty Face; Cathy Lamb














In Such a Pretty Face, the protagonist is 30-something, Stevie Barrett. Stevie is a heart attack survivor.  Just (2) years earlier, Stevie weighed over 300 lbs, but the new Stevie has lost 170 lbs. Weight loss surgery has given Stevie a new life -- well almost. You see Stevie, like most morbidly obese people had deep rooted, personal issues that caused her to eat, and eat and eat. Food was her friend and helped comfort her from the bad memories. At least temporarily, the food eased her emotional pain.

For Stevie it was an early childhood spent with her schizophrenic mother Helen. Helen graduated from an Ivy League College on a full scholarship, was musically gifted, and performed on stage in New York City for four years, until one day she stripped on stage, and appeared to have suffered a total nervous breakdown. When Stevie was little, Helen became pregnant once again, and was sure, an alien had invaded her body. She wanted the baby out, and poor little Stevie, alone with her mentally ill mother, were there together when the birth occurred at home. Stevie named the her baby sister Sunshine, but Helen was sure the baby was evil and referred to it as Trash Heap. 
"Helen continued to hold out her left hand in a weird way and told us it didn't belong to her. "Get this off. It isn't mine,"
 "I said, "Okay Helen, I'll take it off for you after school, but I have to find a hand screwdriver."
"Do you see how I had to buy her sanity at times, how I had to talk to her, manage her ?"
 " That afternoon I ate three cupcakes and tried to calm the nervousness that stalked the better part of my childhood on the farm......
"I knew something bad was going to happen."..............
"It is not normal for children to see their mothers covered with blood. These images stay with you, burned and red and jagged, pricking at your innocence like a butcher knife against you skin".
As an adult Stevie works as a legal assistant. She has a friend Eileen, who is jealous of the thin Stevie, and instead of being happy for her friend, tells her she "cheated",  losing weight the way she did. Stevie is attracted to her neighbor, but she finds her shyness makes it tough to act on these feelings. Despite her weight loss, she is still insecure and haunted by her past.  Stevie takes some big steps in changing her life and her image. She decides to plant a garden for all of the changes that have taken place in her life. She becomes obsessed with chairs, (but you'll have to read the book to find out why), and she longs to quit her job as a legal assistant, to become an artist.

MY THOUGHTS - I liked this (450+ pages) novel a lot. The story is touching, and I suspect most readers will feel sad about Stevie's early life. The novel delves deep into Stevie's painful childhood, and the loss of people she loved, all within a short period of time.  The story covers serious issues: eating disorders, mental illness and self esteem issues.  Sad at times, but poignant and funny at others, I really did enjoy this novel. I think story would have been just as good if the story focused totally on Stevie and her family, as some of the other story lines: her job, planning an anniversary party with her cousins etc., seemed a bit under developed and unnecessary. Despite this, I would not hesitate to RECOMMEND this book.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars
Review Copy

19 comments:

  1. This is one that I've been meaning to read!! I'm so excited to pick this one up and I'm encouraged even more so by your review and rating!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh my .... by your detailed description this is one book that I would absolutely love to read - but I must wait until I am in a mood to adequately appreciate it.

    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, it sounds like this book tackles a lot of tough subjects. I love books like that! Thanks for your review.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds wonderful! It's definitely going on my to-read list.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sounds like a tough life for that poor girl.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! This book seems to tackle a lot of issues and sounds fantastic. I am going to have to add this to my list. Your review was fabulous and makes me want to read this right now!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This book reminds me of She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb with the big girl who's the main character that you root for. I'm adding this to my list.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I LOVE the cover! And I am sure I will enjoy it too!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm not sure I'm up for quite so lengthy a book, but if I am this sounds terrific. From your review it sounds like it does an excellent job of tackling some difficult subjects.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have gotten really good books. I have my eyes "Sea Escape." Thanks for stopping by. Love your seashells.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cathy Lamb's books seem to be tearjerkers, and this one looks like it isn't an exception! I'm looking forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This sounds really great. I added to right to my TBR.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I just finished Henry's Sisters yesterday and was wondering about her other books. Looks like I will have to check them out.

    She seems to do the sad childhood frequently though. It does make for interesting characters though!

    Thanks for this review.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sounds good and like a unique plot. Thanks for the in-depth review!

    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  15. This has been on my wishlist but now I will definitely read it!

    Thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This book sounds great. I have another book by her I haven't read - I've noticed most of her books sound good. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This one sounds pretty interesting and I like the fact that it delves into a topic that you don't read too much about. I'm on the lookout for it now!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This really sounds like a fascinating read that tackles a lot of issues. I definitely want to pick this one up sometime in the future.

    Jennifer @ www.justicejennifer.com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've heard really good things about Lamb's books, but I still haven't gotten to them...

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.

(I apologize for the word verification, spammers spoil it for all sadly.)