Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Title: Pretty Amy
Author: Lisa Burstein 
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Release date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: eBook
Pages: 304
Source: the author
Links: Goodreads | Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | Bookdepository
Read from April 19 - 21, 2012 
My rating: 4 stars: I really like it
Summary: Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when their dates stand them up for prom, and the girls take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx—Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing—like she is nothing. Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.


Unfortunately, I am only myself. I am only Amy Fleishman. I am one of the legions of middle-class white girls who search malls for jeans that make them look thinner, who search drugstores for makeup to wear as second skin, who are as sexy and exotic as blueberry muffins ... and one of the only girls I know to get arrested on prom night. 

I think I've learned at some point in my high school life that opening sentences are very important, as it has to "entice the reader and sets the subject, the tone and possibly the style for the whole work". Honestly, I've never paid that much attention to opening sentences of the books I've read in the past, though there are quite a few lines that caught my eyes and are still stuck in my head. The opening sentences of Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein, which I just showed you, are one of those very few that have made an impression on me, making me feel connected to the main character right away. There's something about the voice of Amy Fleishman in those sentences that reflects her endless insecurities and pessimism and angst, which I think is also the voice of many high school girls struggling to feel comfortable in their own skin, and all the while wishing they could be perfect. It's so real. And to me, that's what's so haunting about these sentences. 

Pretty Amy tells the story of Amy Fleishman, high school senior. We're introduced to Amy on the prom night that changes everything. Amy and her best friends Lila and Cassie are all ready to go to the prom, but their dates never show. Frustrated, Lila breaks into her boyfriend's house and takes back with her a huge bag of pot, which is quite a stupid thing to do, because later that night they're arrested for possession. It's a night of frustration, anger, and disappointment, and their lives start going separate ways and downhill after that.

Amy's mother doesn't handle the arrest very well. It can be said that the relationship between Amy and her mother isn't very healthy. There's a lot of forcing, crying, tantrums throwing, and banning.  For one thing, she takes away her cellphone and prohibits any contacts with Lila and Cassie. And then she hires a lawyer for Amy, for whose service Amy will have to pay on her own with the money she will earn from working at a convenient store (or was it a supermarket? I'm not sure), which is one of the things her mother forces her to do. To make things worse, Amy now has to visit a therapist who encourages Amy to talk when she doesn't want to. No, that's not all. On top of all that, she has to do community service, which turns out to be not a very good experience for our Amy at all.

The story of Amy Fleishman is quite a series of misfortunes. I really like it. I was hooked from the very first sentence. It's incredibly engaging and kept me wanting to know more, wanting to see how Amy will handle the situations she finds herself in. I could sense teenage angst on every page of the book. I found myself wishing the best for Amy and furious at her mother and was glad that mine isn't like that. Although I can't exactly relate to the story, it's Amy I can relate to, and I believe that it's true to a lot of girls, too.

Amy is a fantastic, strong character with a unique sarcastic voice of her own. Bad things keep happening to this girl, and in the middle of all that, she struggles to stand on  her own feet and become herself, after years of following whatever Lila and Cassie do. Amy used to be a nobody with a real friend, Joe, before she met Lila and Cassie. She was sick of blending in with the crowd, the face that didn't stand out. She wanted to be cool, to be different. When she starts hanging out with beautiful Lila and kickass Cassie, she ditches Joe and allows herself to form her shape around them. She picks up their habits like smoking. She feels like there's a place she belong when she's with them.

But does being with "cool" friends make her feel less insecure? No, not really. Amy still has very low self-esteem. I think she feels intimidated by Lila and Cassie that she wants someone to tell her that she's as good as them, too. She often needs reassurance that she's pretty and that there's someone worse off than she is. She does things and say words she feels she's supposed to do and say and she doesn't confront. You'd think hanging out with Lila and Cassie would boost up her self-confidence, but it's actually the opposite. That's kind of sad. But who cares, right? Being with the cool people make you look cool, and appearance is really what matters, isn't it?

Poor Amy. She's spent so much time with them and trying to become of one them that she doesn't quite know who she is anymore. Now, what happens when they're taken away and she's not allowed to see them or talk to them? She's lost, and doesn't know what to do. But there's nothing she can do now except to find herself again. I totally understood how difficult it is to try to do that after having thrown it away in order to fit in and be accepted. And Amy accomplishes that. She rises and stands up tall and fights for herself, as she  has to do what she has to do.

Maybe it takes encountering a dire situation together to know who your real friends are.

Lisa Burstein's writing in this book is impressive. Her words are very cleverly used. Lisa gave Amy just the right voice, the voice of a teenager who's struggling to be heard, who feels lost and scared and alone. You can tell Amy's feelings just by looking at things she says. There are a lot of lines that I've highlighted just because they're pure brilliance on Lisa's part. Sometimes they can make you laugh because they're so funny, and some other times they make you chuckle or snort because it's so true and the truth is ugly. Pretty Amy is undoubtedly very well-written. I think that's all I have to say about Lisa Burstein's amazing writing skill. I'm expecting great things from her in the future! 

Pretty Amy: A great realistic young-adult book, one that should not be missed!


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This review is also posted on Goodreads.

An ARC of this title was provided by the author for review. 

1 comment:

  1. Hey. Thank you for the post! This reminded me that being a teenager is hard...glad that's over for me! lol
    I found you through the master list on the making connections group on goodreads and am now following you! Hope you will follow back/check out my blog if you like it!
    -Amanda
    http://shmandarinorange.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete

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