Someday Productions LLC and Pillow Talking are pleased to present the following review of the novel PRETTY BABY by Mary Kubica
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Review by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley
My all-time, favorite genre in book, film, and even stage plays is the psychological thriller. Go figure – my educational background and career experience is in psychology – a field I’ve pursued because of my love for stories about people. I’m fascinated by what they do, why they do it, what goes right and what goes wrong. That’s why I was immediately drawn to Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby; the title as well as the initial blurb… “She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…”
I think I’d have had the same reaction as protagonist Heidi Wood. I might even have gone as far as she did – to buy the girl, Willow, a meal. To try to help her and the child. For sure, my husband would have stopped me before I invited her into our home or gave her a bed (that’s been reserved my kids’ friends or individuals of the furry kind, not that he’s always been happy about it).
Kubica weaves a web that alternates voices chapter to chapter; a commonly used literary device today which is entirely effective. She also bounces from present to past to future events, depending upon whose perspective you’re reading. It’s like putting together a 2,000 piece puzzle – you recognize the parts of the picture, but you’re just not sure how it all connects.
At times Kubica’s beautiful exposition does become wordy – it lost me from time to time and I can say I skimmed some areas which may have had some overuse of description. I must say, as an author, I’m probably guilty of the same thing. It’s easy to get lost in the writing; seeing the scene in your head. Rambling drags out the reveals, so I guess I can say it’s often done for good purpose.
Pretty Baby has enough twists and turns, ups and downs, and lefts and rights to keep you guessing until the very end. Her characters are at times vulnerable, at times strong, and mostly likeable (although sometimes very unlikeable). I once had an agent tell me that at least some of the characters must be likeable, but as an avid reader, I can tell you a lot of books do not have entirely likeable characters and that’s okay when it works.
Pretty Baby is an easy read and it’s excellent. Not all of the book is “pretty” – there are some downright ugly things that happen; but in true psychological thriller form, there are understandable reasons for why the characters do the things they do. Like life, we’re all dealt some hard blows, just some of us more than others. We make bad choices and we may not always understand why. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors nor do we know why people do the things we do. People and life are unpredictable – psychology tells us so. Kubica, however, did a great job illuminating that. I’m looking forward to reading her other works.