All Out of Pretty

In­grid Palmer, Cre­ston Books (APRIL) Hard­cover $16.99 (350pp) 978-1-939547-48-4

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews -

All Out of Pretty is a hor­ri­fy­ing story about a young girl with noth­ing left to lose—and what she does in her des­per­a­tion.

An­drea lives a nor­mal life. She wor­ries about school, has plenty of friends, and en­joys the fringe ben­e­fits of be­ing pretty. She also lives with her grand­mother—a sit­u­a­tion prefer­able to deal­ing with her ir­re­spon­si­ble mother. When her grand­mother dies, An­drea’s life changes overnight.

An­drea’s mother, Ayla, has drug and al­co­hol prob­lems, and is used to liv­ing off of her hookups. Though forced to take care of her daugh­ter, she does not change her life­style one bit. An­drea is left wait­ing out­side bars for her mother to emerge. She eats what­ever she hap­pens to find in the homes of the men her mother sleeps with. When Ayla hooks up with a dan­ger­ous drug dealer, he of­fers An­drea the food and shel­ter that she craves—at a price.

The deeper An­drea goes into her new life­style, the far­ther she pulls away from who she was. Her beauty makes her stand out; she of­ten wishes it away, will­ing to trade it for more prac­ti­cal things. She feels twisted and ugly in­side. She holds new friends at a dis­tance for their own pro­tec­tion.

An­drea is a com­pli­cated pro­tag­o­nist who draws out pro­tec­tive­ness and sym­pa­thy from her au­di­ence even as her ac­tions veer into deeply ques­tion­able ter­ri­tory. Do the ends jus­tify the means? That ques­tion re­curs through­out the novel, which finds an ul­ti­mately in­no­cent girl en­gag­ing in many dan­ger­ous, wrong­ful be­hav­iors.

All Out of Pretty is a dis­turb­ing novel that fol­lows a young woman who is threat­ened into sub­mis­sion and who lives op­por­tu­nity to op­por­tu­nity, sim­ply to sur­vive.

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