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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Pretty" by Jillian Lauren ~ What's "pretty" got to do with it?

Published by:  Penguin Group/Plume
Pages:  288
Genre:  Fiction

Book Cover Rating:

Does this image of the pretty girl tell me much about the actual story I'm going to find in this book?  Not at first glance, though I can see she's in darkness and isn't making eye contact. 

The explosion of white...not sure if that's a firecracker/sparkler or a shattering of glass in the center of the cover...does add mystery, but I'm not sure how it relates to being "pretty." 

The font of the title in that explosion could be changed. Gets a little lost in the whole.

I wasn't familiar with Jillian Lauren as an author, but I could see by the size of her name that she was expected to carry the book by her name alone! Interesting...

I'm intrigued by the cover. I like the overall effect. I'm going to open the book and see what it's about!   B+ rating

The Dame's Review:

"There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah"
                                           Leonard Cohen

Jillian Lauren begins her brilliant novel with this gorgeous, well-known refrain, then she takes that Hallelujah and sings it as her story like a bird whose heart thumps to break through its throat. This is a magnificent book. It will take you through every emotion you have and some you may not have known you had.  Lauren is a wise woman with a truth to tell that will set you free of strings and things that may have tangled you up.  If you get this book, prepare to sit with it alone until the experience is over, and then email me, you'll want to talk.

Here is the story of the agony of a life held hostage by lost love.  Bebe learns early in life that all that matters is love, and when love is gone (in the form of her drunken father's death) hardly anything else makes life worth living. There's an empty place he's left and the earth-shattering pain around it won't stop.

When Bebe becomes a pretty young adult, she is inevitably drawn into a disastrous relationship with a jazz musician similiar to her father. She loses herself with him in drink and drugs, and their life spins out of control in a fatal car accident which kills him and leaves her broken physically, emotionally and psychologically. 

It is Bebe's story of survival and the savage battle for sobriety she fights that Lauren tells us in "Pretty." Having landed in LA with her boyfriend before his death, Bebe's scars, both physical and emotional, now leave her decidedly not pretty in a place mostly concerned with that image!  She gut-toughs it out thorough cosmotology/beauty school as she tries to find her way to another life, free from emptiness and pain.

This is a blazing, unpretty, fiercely honest look into the heart of darkness; the soul of a spiritually, heart broken young woman who believes she has nothing to live for.  Jillian kicks away all the toys when she uncovers the raw emotions and honest feelings of recovering addicts. But, she does it with such humor and panache it makes one laugh with joy when her characters "win" the smallest of victories, even when they do it on the wrong side of "right."

Lauren's use of the redemption of Jesus for the lost, and of people for one another is powerful in her novel.  She writes of it grounded in reality, and with humor, irony, insights into humanity, and with hope.  It's a magnificent tribute, and a characterization of the truth of spiritual health and power. 

Light plays a large part in "Pretty," and this metaphor lends depth to the novel and enjoyment to the reader as it's used to work through Bebe's different stages of awareness and well-being.  Just a brilliant mechanism in Jillian's hands.  We are constantly made aware of things coming full circle through her humor, as well. I had a great time reading this book.

This is a very likeable novel.  It's fluid, profound, filled with quirky, irreverent, loveable characters who are light-hearted, yet, deeply wounded at the same time.  It's a grand story of healing. It's a story of light and enlightenment, a story of lost and found love, and restored faith. There are messages here from each of the characters. 

I found a message of hope here for the many who wonder why they should take another step, another day, on this side of life.  I'm a forever fan of Jillian Lauren.  No wonder her name was so big on her book cover!

5+ shattering stars



Laura E.

I didn't like the book very much. I loved her other book Some Girls - I found this one disappointing.

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