Author: Mary Kubica
Paperback: 400 pages
Heidi Wood has always been a charitable woman. Still, her husband and daughter are horrified when Heidi returns home one day with a young woman named Willow and her four-month-old baby in tow. Disheveled and apparently homeless, this girl could be a criminal—or worse. Nevertheless, Heidi invites Willow and the baby to take refuge in their home, despite her family’s objections. As clues into Willow’s past begin to surface, Heidi is forced to decide how far she’s willing to go to help a stranger. What starts as an act of kindness quickly spirals into an unrelenting web of lies and a story far more twisted than anyone could have anticipated.
Next up on my journey to “expand my literary horizons” was to read a book from the thriller genre. As some of you may know, I have a entire floor to ceiling bookcase filled with books I have yet to read. Some people have a to-read shelf, I have a to-read book case. My husband is convinced this is not normal, and that he needs to stage a “book hoarding intervention.” If loving books is wrong, I don’t want to be right!
Anyways, I scanned through the shelves of books, and I realized that I did not own a book belonging to the thriller genre. Off to Hoopla I went to find an audiobook to download. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t do any research about what book I should read from this category. I simply clicked “thriller” in the genre section and went to the featured tab. From there, one of the first things I saw was the cover for Pretty Baby. After reading the synopsis, I took the plunge and downloaded it to my phone. It was very impulsive actually, which is very unlike me. Typically, it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to pick out a book. Could it be that I have too many options? Never!
“Momma used to say, “We don’t have much, but at least we have each other.” And then one day, we didn’t even have that much.”
How much can one person physically and mentally endure before they go off the deep end? In Pretty Baby Kubica pushes her characters to the limit, then goes one step further. For the majority of the book, you will think you know what is going to happen next. Just when you think you have everything figured out, Kubica completely switches gears and throws you for a loop.
If I had to sum up Pretty Baby in one word, it would be intense. While listening to this book, there were parts where I felt a knot in the pit in my stomach. I was experiencing physical effects of anxiety. You know the author is a talented writer when they can generate a physical response in their reader. I also found myself shouting at my phone a few different times, as if the characters could actually hear me… Maybe some of the craziness of this book was rubbing off on me 🙂
What I liked most about this book was how believable it was. In college I majored in Criminal Justice, and completed my internship in adult probation. During my internship, I worked specifically with sex offenders. I liked how Kubica did not portray the child predator as the stereotypical “scumbag.” In reality, most child sex offenders are the people you would least expect. Most are clean cut, have good jobs, intelligent and above all, they are charming. As part of my degree, I also had to take psychology classes, including abnormal psychology. We dove deep into the psychological implications of situations of abuse, illness, neglect, etc. I felt like Kubica gave an accurate depiction of the “victims” in the novel.
As much as I enjoyed the second half of this book, I do have to admit the beginning was slow for me. It took me a while to get into the story. However, if you can stick with it, you will be rewarded in the end.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Sensitivity Warning: If you are overly sensitive to subjects of child abuse, sexual abuse, mental illness, depression, infertility, and cancer, then I would avoid this book.
What are some of your favorite psychological thrillers? Do you have a favorite author in the thriller genre? I would love some suggestions since I am new to the genre! Comment and share with me 🙂
About the Author
Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL and PRETTY BABY. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in History and American Literature, and lives outside of Chicago with her husband and two children, where she enjoys photography, gardening and caring for the animals at a local shelter. Her first novel THE GOOD GIRL received a Strand Critics Nomination for Best First Novel and was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards in Debut Goodreads Author and in Mystery & Thriller for 2014. She is currently working on her next novel.
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