Review: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein
Author: Lisa Burstein
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: May 8, 2012
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.
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.
I noted a lot of quotes from Pretty Amy, but here are a few of my favorites:
Disclaimer: I purchased this book myself. I was not compensated in any way for this review.