I hit another reading rut in the past couple of weeks.
I started a full-time reporting job last week, and the days since have been busy and exciting. I haven't been working as hard as I should have to make time to read, but I felt like I needed some time to adjust to my new schedule and focus on my work.
I was planning on reading Alias Grace as my thirteenth book of the year, but between work and everything else I found that I just couldn't get myself to focus on the dense subject matter and writing. So instead I did what I do best: I found a thriller at a used book store and got down to business.
I read Mary Kubica's book The Good Girl when I was doing my undergraduate degree. I read it during exam period in my second or third year, and I found that it was exactly what I needed to take my mind off of the stress that I was feeling. I figured her latest book, Pretty Baby, would do the same for me now.
Pretty Baby is about a woman named Heidi who happens upon a young girl living on the streets of Chicago with a baby. Being charitable - and somewhat obsessed with children - Heidi brings the girl into her home to try to help her. Heidi's family is less than enthused about the living arrangement, and as the days go by the family becomes more and more suspicious about the girl living under their roof and the circumstances that brought her to them.
Pretty Baby was a slow burner. It took a while for the book to build up any real kind of tension or mystery. Kubica is undoubtedly a good writer, but Pretty Baby felt like it dragged a bit at the beginning. I wasn't sure how invested I was for the first hundred or so pages.
The book started to pick up eventually, and turned out to be an ok read.
That being said, I do have a couple of problems with this book.
I can handle a book in which most of the characters aren't likeable. In fact, books about bad people are kind of my thing. I'm usually not bothered by not being a fan of everyone I read about. I understand that making the characters seem like terrible people is exactly what authors try to do in books like this.
But somehow the characters in Pretty Baby this book didn't sit well with me. They were bad and unlikeable for the wrong reasons, and their decisions didn't make much sense. It just didn't feel realistic.
I also felt that this book, maybe unintentionally, took advantage of some very serious issues and used them as plot devices where they weren't necessary.
The fraught relationship between the main character and her husband was upsetting, and to me it felt like nothing more than a stereotype of a husband not spending enough time with his family and finding his wife overbearing. There were parts of the book where the troubled relationship was so overwritten that it wasn't enjoyable.
Reviewing this book is kind of challenging, because on one hand it did the job of being entertaining, but on another hand it frustrated me. It built too slowly and amounted to too little.
I will definitely keep reading Kubica's future books. She is definitely talented and I think this book had potential that wasn't fulfilled. I look forward to whatever she does next.