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Such A Pretty Smile
A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.
There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.
2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.
2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.
As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty.
I received an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts: 2 Stars
I was excited when I was approved for this book from St. Martin's press in exchange for an honest review.
This book was eerie in so many ways. I have a feeling that more details I missed this first time reading it will appear again when it is re-read. Yes, I have a high chance of reading this book once more, and probably more times after that.
Caroline has a blank spot in her past, one that she sometimes wishes she could fill in with memories and other times is too afraid to try to remember. She is an artist. She creates dark, lovely sculptures. She loves her daughter dearly and is afraid for her constantly. Will her daughter develop the same haunting phantoms that she suffers from? What little she does know of her past is kept hidden, afraid that if they are brought to the surface, they will transfer to her beloved child.
Lila is struggling in school. Her bestfriend does not treat her well, and there are new feelings simmering below the surface. Her friend is boy crazy and loud and wild, but Lila tries not to feel jealous of her best friend's affections towards older boys. Between complications of having only one friend, one she wishes would know how she really feels, and wishing her mom would just tell her about the secrets and her father caring more about his new baby and ignoring her, Lila is getting fed up.
Unfortunately for Caroline and Lila, the past is about to sneak up and become a threat to both of their futures.
This was a great book. It really brings to the surface how men brush off women and what we say. We are told to be quiet, be pleasant, SMILE more so you'll look prettier, keep your problems to yourself. Stay in the kitchen. It was infuriating but it felt so good at the same time to have this brought up in this book (in the best way possible). If people would simply listen to one another, no matter their gender, so many issues could possibly have a chance at a good resolution instead of horrible endings. This is a book that I am going to have to gift to my female friends... and maybe some male friends as well. This book would be a great tool for discussions for so many topics. One of the best and aggravating, thought provoking books I have read so far this year.