Friday, July 24, 2015

"Pretty Baby" by Mary Kubica


"Heidi was the first one in a long time who was nice to me".

This is how the story of Willow begins. Willow is homeless with a baby bundled into her army-green jacket. Heidi, a do-gooder with a huge heart, sees Willow and her baby again and again, in various kinds of weather, and finds herself obsessing over them. Where is this girl's mother? How did she become homeless? Will she and the baby be ok? Heidi takes a huge gamble and invites Willow and the baby into the home that she shares with her husband Chris and daughter Zoe. Does Heidi truly understand what she is risking by having this girl living in her home? Is Heidi willing to risk everything- her job, her marriage, her family life- in order to save one homeless girl and her child? Pretty Baby soon takes us down a dark and winding path and asks us what we would be willing to risk in order to have everything that we ever wanted.

Pretty Baby was impossible for me to put down. As readers we are immediately sucked in to the plight of this young homeless girl and her little baby, wrapped in a pink blanket and tucked inside of her mother's coat in the pouring rain. I was drawn to the image of swaths of pink blanket peeking out of a dirty coat. I was sucked in to the image of a tiny baby being hidden within. Heidi, an intricate character with more layers than we initially expect, finds herself drawn to this girl and her baby and she finds herself almost obsessing over them, even if that's not what she thinks that she's doing. The mother to a preteen who treats everything that her mother does with disdain, Heidi finds herself suddenly needed again, needed both by this girl and also by this helpless baby who didn't ask to not have access to a warm bed or medical care. Heidi is a complex character, carefully developed and revealed to us bit by bit. Willow manages to become a sympathetic character as well. As her story is slowly revealed to us we find ourselves curious about what possible ending she could find. Even more interesting was the fact that Chris, Heidi's husband, was someone that I didn't feel sympathetic towards. I ended up feeling more compassion for the homeless Willow than I did for Chris and his wandering thoughts. Kubica knows how to develop both a plot and a character and that is evidenced multiple times in Pretty Baby.

My one disappointment in this book, and it's slight, was that I didn't find myself overly shocked by the conclusion. My expectations for this book were sky-high. Kubica's first book had me open-mouthed shocked at the end, whereas Pretty Baby kept me frantically turning pages but I did figure out the twists shortly before they happened. Regardless of the fact that I didn't find myself as surprised this time around, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Haunting, chilling, and enjoyable to the last page, Pretty Baby is a story that will keep you engaged until the very last page and it will leave you begging for more from the author. My thanks to Netgalley and BookSparks PR for providing me with a copy for review.

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