Review: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Title:  Pretty Amy
Author:  Lisa Burstein
Series:  None
Publisher:  Entangled Publishing
Publication Date:  May 8, 2012
Pages:  304
Format/Source:  eBook/Purchased

Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Contemporary

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 the girls get stood up for prom and 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. Even 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. (From Goodreads)

Digging the Contemporary…

So normally I’m a science fiction, dystopian kind of girl.  I like high action, twists and turns and lots of sci-fi stuff.  But recently I just craved some YA contemporary fiction.  I wasn’t exactly sure why, because I’ve never really considered contemporary to be my thing.  But I knew I just needed to read it. So I decided to go on a self-imposed YA Contemporary Reading Binge, and I knew that I had to read the Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty, and I knew I had to read Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein.  I wasn’t sure what else I was going to read, but I knew I’d get to those.  And so far, my binge is paying off!  I’m really beginning to love YA contemps!

The Snark and the Love/Hate Characters…

I LOVE snark and sarcasm in my characters.  So, like with Jessica Darling, Amy and I got along.  Although I did have a few issues with Amy.  First of all, I wasn’t really sure why she hung out with Lila and Cassie–they both pretty much treated her like crap and she just let them do it.  I know that they made her feel like she was included, like she had a place in high school, but unfortunately I think she could have found better friends, and I’m not even talking about how they were “bad girls,” I’m simply talking about how they treated Amy.  But I do recognize that this was part of her growth:  the recognition of who she was with or without her friends and the realization that even though she valued their friendship more than anything, they might not feel the same way she does.  (Side note:  I imagined Lila as Lila Fowler from Sweet Valley High, and Cassie as Cassandra from the movie Saved! And it’s not just because of their names.)

Also, Amy never really told her family what she was feeling.  She had plenty of opportunities to do so, but she would just not say anything.  I know her parents are hard to talk to because they never really listen to her even when she does talk, but at least she could say that she told them.  Then again, when I was a teenager I never really talked that much to my parents, either.  
And her parents–yikes!  I did like her dad but I LOVED TO HATE Amy’s mom! I have pages and pages of notes that I took while reading Pretty Amy and I’d say about half of them are rants about Amy’s mom.  I know she means well, but jeez, that woman!  She jumps to conclusions, takes everything personally and thinks everything is about her.  And she makes Amy go to a Christian prayer circle when they’re Jewish???  Granted, that was one of the funniest scenes in the book, with some majorly awesome symbolism, but come on, Mom!  I know she’s trying everything she can think of, but seriously, did you ever think about sitting down and talking to your child? Treating them like a human being?  That might work!

Before I make this review all a rant about Amy’s mom, I’d better move on. But I will say this–not since Dolores Umbridge have I had so much hate for a character.  And that’s a major compliment, I think.

Moving On…

I think this is one of those books that I really would have read differently if I was still in my teens.  As an adult, I want Amy to talk to her parents, and I love the fact that her therapist calls her out and says, “That’s the way you’re presenting yourself.  Silent, sullen, misunderstood.  Without words, you are every rebellious teenage girl in the world.”  As an adult, I see that too.  But as a teenager, I would have reacted to that quote just as Amy does–by getting angry and saying that no, I’m different, I’m not anything like all the other teenage girls in the world.  I think it’s a testament to Burstein’s writing that I can see both sides within this story–I can side with Amy, but I can also side with the people that she thinks are against her.

I also felt like I really could relate to Amy, because she wasn’t the pretty, popular girl in school, but she spent a lot of time wishing that she was, instead of just being herself.  I did that in school, and later realized that it wasn’t worth it–that being myself was more important.  But I totally could relate to Amy in that sense, and I think a lot of girls can.  And I think Burstein really had a handle on teenage girls, as well as girls in general, and high school cliques and what it feels like to not be a part of one but to yearn to be included.

Favorite Quotes…

I noted a lot of quotes from Pretty Amy, but here are a few of my favorites:

“‘You do a poll and I would say most people would choose to be somewhere else, doing something else, and if they really had options, being someone else.'”
“Of course I was scared, but I was also emotionally spent.  If I had learned anything from my experience violating the law, it was that feelings are not a bottomless pit.  You can run out of them, and I guess I had.”

“My real confession would have been to apologize to her for turning into me.  For letting her dreams drain out, until I became someone she wouldn’t even recognize.”

“I couldn’t help remembering that I was on a planet hurtling through space, that I was just one girl, in one town, in one country, with little choice in the matter.  I felt like I had said a word over and over again and it had lost all its meaning.”

“That day I realized that insanity isn’t just about being crazy; it’s also about being lonely.”

I really enjoyed Pretty Amy.  I think it’s a good book for any age, seeing as I’m in my thirties, but I think it’s an important book for teenagers to read, whether they are female or male.  It will validate teenagers and their feelings, yet show them how their actions, and more importantly, their choices will shape who they are to become.

My rating for Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein:

4 huge stars.  Probably more like 4.5.  I’m excited to see what Lisa Burstein writes in the future, especially the Pretty Amy companion novel, Dear Cassie.
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ Entangled Publishing
You may also enjoy:  Sloppy Firsts │ Paper Towns 

Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    August 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I used to love contemporary novels and then got into the dystopian kick, I'm now getting back into the contemporary (partly because the dystopians are all starting to blend together for me). I love the sound of this book, Amy sounds like a great character and I really need to pick this one up. Thanks for the great review Andrea, always a pleasure :)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      August 24, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      Thanks, Andrea! I never really read many contemporaries until late last year when I read all of John Green's novels. Then I really didn't read many more contemporaries until this whole contemporary binge. But I'm really loving them! This one is definitely one to read!

  2. fakesteph

    August 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I love Contemporary. Not sure why I haven't read this one yet.

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      August 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm

      You should definitely read it! I think you'll love the sarcasm!

  3. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    August 16, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    I bought this when it was on sale but still haven't gotten to it. So glad you liked it. So many good quotes too! (And Saved! was so awesome!)

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      August 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm

      I LOVE Saved! Such a great movie. You should totally read this and see if you picture Cassandra from Saved! as Cassie!

  4. Kate@Midnight Book Girl

    August 18, 2012 at 2:44 am

    I'm not sure if I'll read this one, but I have to say I kind of want to now solely based on your Sweet Valley High reference. And now reading Kim's comment I have to wonder if maybe I already own this book too… Time to catalog my unread Kindle books!

    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      August 25, 2012 at 4:28 am

      Lol! I'm getting to that point, where I'm not sure if I own a book already or not. That's when you know you're addicted. ;D

  5. Candace

    August 20, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Hi, I am a new follower, I will need to check out this book! I'd love a follow back at


    1. Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase

      August 25, 2012 at 4:44 am

      Thanks for stopping by and for following! I'm off to check out your blog! :D

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