Wednesday, June 8, 2011

So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

One night, twenty-year-old Wendy White disappeared from the town of 2,000 people in upstate New York where she'd lived all her life. Five months later, her newly-dead body was found in a ditch near her home. She had obviously been raped and tortured. The murderer was most likely someone local.

Cara Hoffman's jigsaw puzzle narrative style - jumping around in time and juggling multiple points of view - was disconcerting at first, especially when I tried too hard to sort out the timeline. When I decided to relax and trust the author, I enjoyed the way the pieces eventually slotted into place. The result is stunning and intense.

Another tragedy is connected to Wendy's death. Reader suspense builds as details of Wendy's ordeal and the nature of the second crime are slowly revealed. Hoffman provides passionate insights into the issues of violence against women, xenophobia, vigilante justice and environmental degradation from factory farming. A thought-provoking book with memorable female characters.

Note added June 3, 2012: I think The Rejectionist sells this book a lot better, comparing it to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. "Like basically this is the book TGWTDT was trying and failing miserably to be. So Much Pretty is written out of a place of straight fury" See the whole thing on her blog here.

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