Amy has always been okay being overshadowed by Lila and Cassie, her two best friends, because at least she has them as friends. When the three girls get stood up by their dates just before the prom, the girls vow revenge, which doesn’t end up working out like they planned. After a brief stint in jail, Amy finds herself being “rehabilitated” and humiliated. As Amy navigates her pain and comes to terms with what real friendship is, she might just discover that she has more support than she ever imagined.
Chalk this one up to the reader not being in the right headspace for this one. I wanted to like Burstein’s smart, contemplative debut, but I never quite connected to Amy or her plight. A lot of readers will find things to like here, though, so I’m reluctant to criticize it too harshly. Good writing and a genuine conflict make this a contemporary YA read that will work for readers looking for a book with some substance.
While I had trouble connecting with Amy, there’s no denying that she’s a well-developed character. Her emotions and thoughts and loyalties swing wildly around in the aftermath of the incident on prom night, and it’s a very authentic portrayal of a lost girl trying to find herself. Her friends were fairly well done, too, although they mostly lacked the depth that Amy was given. This is especially true of the toxic Lila, but most readers will be willing to overlook that. Also troubling are Amy’s parents, although readers who stick with the story will find themselves mostly satisfied by the end.
There are some pacing problems here, and because so much of the book is narrative driven from inside Amy’s head, readers who like a lot of dialogue are likely to grow frustrated with this book’s prose. It’s a book meant for readers who like a denser, thicker plot. Those looking for a book that doesn’t shy away from the tougher issues are likely to enjoy this one.
Recommended with reservations. I’m not sure this would work for reluctant readers.
Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein. Entangled Publishing: 2012. Library copy.