Pretty Amy Blog Tour: Review + Interview + Giveaway
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.
To begin, I would like to thank Entangled Publishing for giving me this opportunity to read and review PRETTY AMY and be part of their blog tour. I knew that Pretty Amy would be the perfect read for me, since I have recently become obsessed with contemporary YA literature. I could tell from the description that Amy would be a girl that I’d relate to (minus the whole jail thing). The description gives you a good idea what to expect as far as the story goes, but what it doesn’t tell you is that, although she is plenty lost and unsure of her place in the world, Amy is actually a very snarky and strong willed teenager. A good deal of the plot centers around her thoughts and actions as she copes with the deep doo-doo she has gotten herself into (and the even further doo-doo she gets herself into because of her continued actions.) This book could easily have been called Pretty Jenna, a comical (albeit exaggerated) retelling of my youth. To sum it all up, if you are a woman and you currently are or ever have been a teenager, I welcome you: this is the story of your life.
Lisa is a master of the element of surprise, and her surprises come via her characters. Each of them has their own unique personality, from the “self-involved and overly helpful in all the wrong ways” mother, to the convenience store clerk who walks his own pace in life, to the two “bad girls” who compliment each other in a “back-handed compliment” sort of way. And then there’s Amy. Pretty Amy… Kudos to Lisa for successfully putting every insecurity and fear of the modern teenage girl into one single individual. Pretty Amy… more like Poor Unfortunate Amy. I swear, if I was her I would have probably had the same exact self-esteem complex that she does. I do admit, there were many characteristics in her that I saw in myself 10-15 years ago. But if I had to deal with ALL her insecurities, I would probably implode! While I don’t blame her for having a hard time “helping herself” throughout the book, I still couldn’t help but be a bit annoyed at times by her behavior. Then again, with a mom as horribly annoying, controlling and self-absorbed as hers is, I have to wonder, would I have behaved the same?
Ah, the setting… High school. We all know how it is, whether we’re experiencing it now or have in the past. Kids are cruel. Heck, I was telling my mother just this morning that my four year old (A FOUR YEAR OLD. IN DAY CARE.) is dealing with “mean girls” in her “class”… Just this morning she told me that she didn’t want to go to “school” (day care) because she doesn’t like it there. She’s FOUR! Kids these days certainly have it tough, and Lisa perfectly brings out the worst of this tough new world in her story.
The pacing is one area where Pretty Amy falters, but only just a bit. The story begins fairly quickly, as we learn about what type of people Amy and her friends are. But then Amy has to deal with the outcomes of her crime and that’s where the pacing suffers. Not to say that things don’t happen, because they do. And the events that take place are more often than not quite entertaining for the reader. But at the same time we have to get inside Amy’s head… Her typical teenage brain is a place of “two steps forward, two steps back”, if you know what I mean… Over and over she dances – forward and back, forward and back. Realistic? Yes. Testing on my patience? Most definitely. But then, perhaps this is just a sign of my age. I’ll bet plenty of teenagers could read this book and simply nod their heads in agreement when she takes a mental step backward, whereas I find myself smacking my forehead, groaning, “Oh, Amy!”
One of the highlights of Pretty Amy is the snarky voice that the main character provides. Lisa is the Queen of One-liners, most of which are downright hilarious in a dark and cynical sort of way, are reflective of her writing style. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. The situations that Lisa puts Amy into are examples of the very worst things a creative imagination could possibly conjure up for a teenager. Poor Unfortunate Amy, to be the victim of such creativity… But at least it gets the story across and makes it interesting at that!
In the end, I found Pretty Amy to be a highly enjoyable contemporary read. It is one of the most realist books about being a teenage girl that I have read in some time. For this reason, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA lit.
An interview with the author, Lisa Burstein:
I just turned 36. I am married and have a dog and two cats. I love laughing and PRETTY AMY is my first novel.
What do you do when you’re not writing? (For fun, that is!)
I love reading and watching movies and I love to cook.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you, either growing up or as an adult?
Growing up one of my favorite books was Catcher in the Rye. I was like, wow, a book about me, that talks about the weird things I feel and think about. The only bummer was it was about a boy. Not that I would even compare PRETTY AMY to the masterpiece that is Catcher in the Rye, but I wanted to write a book about a girl that *might* be a modern, funnier Holden Caufield.
What are you currently reading?
I am currently reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, because I had a reviewer compare PRETTY AMY to it and was curious to check it out. Sam’s “voice” is quite similar to Amy’s, but Lauren Oliver is a master.
Regarding Pretty Amy, what was your inspiration? Did you draw upon any of your own experiences to write this story?
I write YA because I felt like I still had all these things to say from when I was a teenager that I never got a chance to say. I also feel like teens need books in a way adults don’t. At least I know I did, I looked to books to help me make sense of what I was feeling. I guess I hope teens will use PRETTY AMY in the same way. I was arrested during my senior year of high school, not for the same reason Amy was, but that was where the kernel came from. I also knew I wanted to write a “shocking” book from a teenage girl’s point of view. I feel like you can get away with your character being a murderer, or a jerk, or just a smart ass more easily if your book isn’t contemporary and I wanted to try to break that mold with PRETTY AMY. I also wanted to write a contemporary YA book that was about what real teens go through. I feel like teenage girl’s lives are complex and I hoped to show that in PRETTY AMY.
What was your favorite chapter (or part of the book) to write and why?
I wouldn’t pick a chapter necessarily, but Amy’s one liners were a lot of fun to come up with.
If there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about Pretty Amy, what would it be?
That I am so happy it is touching them. It means a lot to me.
How has the road to publishing been for you? Any particular memory that stands out?
Probably when I first started querying and agents were telling me they liked my work, even if it wasn’t something they felt like they could represent. It was the point I was like, hmmm, maybe this is something I could do.
Can you reveal anything about your next book? *eye wink*
It’s a companion novel to PRETTY AMY called DEAR CASSIE. It’s due out next March and follows Cassie’s post-prom arrest to a rehabilitation retreat in the woods, told in Cassie’s irreverent voice via her diary entries.
Chocolate or vanilla? Swirl
Pepsi or Coke? Pepsi
Tom or Jerry? Jerry 😉
Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time to talk to Making the Grade!
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Posted on June 1, 2012, in Book Review, Four & 1/2 Star and tagged 4.5 Stars, Book Review, Books, Contemporary, Entangled Publishing, Lisa Burstein, Pretty Amy, YA, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.