Oxymorons are part of life. It’s also part of Jillian Lauren‘s new novel, Pretty. The title is so contradicting to the story. The story of a teenage girl, Bebe, who leaves home with Aaron, a musician. It’s the storyline we watch on Dateline about teenage girls. Bebe finds her decision leads her into a world of stripping and addiction. She and Aaron drink too much, use drugs and fight. It takes a car crash, where Aaron, driving under the influence is killed and Bebe enters rehab searching for her life’s pieces.
Pretty is not the fluff teenage novels or chick literature is saturated in. There is no glitter or unicorns. It’s about a young woman struggling. From the very beginning it’s volatile. Even as she tries to rebuild her life by living at a halfway house, taking the opportunity of beauty school, Bebe still struggles with the pieces. She meets Jake, a paranoid schizophrenic from the halfway house. Aside from him, Bebe is alone, battling the world that’s so fragile as she tries to stay clean and sober.
Lauren creates all this in the opening chapter and progresses the story from this deep, dark pit. If you read looking for an ending that makes you feel good, this is not that story. While it’s labeled fiction, I found myself remembering an article I read or a news clip I saw about people like Bebe. It is a slap in the face that the world is not perfect. The story is sad. It reminded me how blessed I truly am, if only that sometimes I had hope, something more than Bebe seems to have in this story.
There is some great writing in the pages of Pretty. Flashbacks that allow the reader to better become acquainted with Bebe and blend the story-line together.
The story was sometimes difficult to read due to the topic, but I commend Lauren for tackling this subject and bringing to the forefront of America. It is a story that’s out there and after reading Pretty, one I’m not too soon to forget.
ABOUT JILLIAN LAUREN:
Author and performer Jillian Lauren grew up in suburban New Jersey and fled across the water to New York City. She attended New York University for three minutes before dropping out to work in downtown theater, where she performed with Richard Foreman’s Ontological Hysteric Theater, among others.
Her New York Times bestselling memoir, SOME GIRLS: My Life in a Harem, was published by Plume in April 2010. It has since been translated into fourteen different languages.
Her debut novel, PRETTY, was released on August 30, 2011.
Jillian has an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University. Her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Flaunt Magazine, Opium Magazine, Society, Pale House: A Collective and in the anthology My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories.
She lives with her husband and son in Los Angeles, CA.
Bebe Baker is an ex-everything: ex-stripper, ex-Christian, ex-drug addict, ex-pretty girl.
It’s been one year since the car accident that killed her boyfriend left her scarred and shaken. Flanked by an eccentric posse of friends, she is serving out a self-imposed sentence at a halfway house, while trying to finish cosmetology school.
Amid the rampant diagnoses, over-medication, compulsive eating, and acrylic nails of Los Angeles, Bebe looks for something to believe in before something–her past, the dangerously magnetic men in her life, her own bad choices–knocks her off course again.
Additional optional resource:
MORE DETAILED READER GUIDE QUESTIONS
Advance Praise for Pretty
Pretty is the not-so-pretty, utterly riveting, non-stop frantic and compulsively readable saga of Bebe Baker, a heroine who knows her way around a serious binge. The prose, at times, drives with such ferocious urgency that the words seem not so much written as willed onto the page. Pretty stands out as a triumph of survival testimony.
I recommend this book and as an added incentive, the first 250 people on 9/7 to order “Pretty” on Amazon, and email the receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, will receive a Limited Edition run of the “Pretty” necklace, made by Fairy Tale Jewels.com (http://fairytalejewels.com)
*I received a copy of Pretty in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions, where expressed, are my own and were in now way influenced by the sponsor. Others experiences may vary.