Thursday, May 21, 2015

Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.

With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?

On any given day I'm a huge fan of Corey Ann Haydu's work. OCD Love Story and Life by Committee both tackle real and difficult issues in a fascinating and relatable way, and Making Pretty is far from the exception. What happens when your entire life is malleable? What happens when anything can be changed, tucked, or pinned on a moments notice 
for the sake of appearances? This is where Making Pretty makes its stand. 

The thing that really stands out to me about this book, is that there is no black or white. Every character has strengths and flaws, every character has moments where they know what someone else needs, but turn around and hurt those same people. While I was reading the book, I was blown away by that kind of character building. It's what I would call flawless realism, since none of us are perfect. We've all hurt people we wanted to help. We've all got things we'd rather hide.

With many YA books now, you see a character who's very driven. They know what they want and where they're going, and they are aware of the steps they need to take to get there. No such luck with Montana. In opposition to many characters we see, she's living entirely in her moment. We don't know what she has panned for the future, and we don't really know about her plans for more than a week at a time. I found it refreshing to have a character be lost. At the age that Montana is, that's normal!

The vague ending to the book will be frustrating to some who like more closure, but I enjoyed it.

All in all this book is another winner, and if you like contemporary YA with a gritty edge, then this is the author for you!

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