Friday, February 1, 2013

Review: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty (Joshilyn Jackson)

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty
Written By: Joshilyn Jackson
Published By: Grand Central Publishing
Published on: January 2012
Pages: 352

A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Jenny, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past--and who will stop at nothing to defend their future.

I can't remember what drew me to this book in the first place. I think it was the cover of the book. I like pretty things and the cover... well it looks very pretty! It probably helps that it has the word pretty in there, plus I love the dress the cover model is wearing.

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty is certainly a different style of book than what I usually read. It's narrated by the three main characters, Mosey, Liza and Big (Jenny). Each of the three are exactly fifteen years apart. Both Big and Liza had babies at the age of fifteen and now Liza's daughter Mosey is terrified she is going to follow in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother and find herself pregnant, despite the fact she still hasn't lost her virginity.

The main event that sets the book in motion is when Big has the tree in their backyard pulled down so they can install a swimming pool to help rehabilitate Liza after her stroke. Upon pulling down the tree they come across a tiny grave buried in the garden. Mosey then goes on a mission to figure out who's body is buried in the garden and where she fits into the whole saga, Big quickly figures out what's going on and turns her attention to making the problem go away, while Liza tries to pull herself out of her stroke-ravaged mind and her memories to help her mother keep their family together.

I loved the mystery of this novel. Throughout every chapter you were given small clues to help you put the pieces together. You will often believe you've sold the mystery only to have your ideas debunked in the next chapter. I don't often read mystery books, mostly because I get so frustrated when I can't put the pieces together, but I loved this one. It certainly kept me reading. In fact, I couldn't put the book down.
At the end of each chapter would usually be something huge, and of course you'd want to know what happens next, but the next chapter is narrated by one of the other characters and you have to wait two chapters before you find out what happens next, by which time you're dying to find out about what happens next to the other characters too. Obviously it's a vicious cycle.

I loved the characters of the novel. Big was probably my favourite. At only 45 she is a grandmother of a teenager, plus the primary caregiver of her daughter who's stroke has left her totally dependent on others. On top of that she has some serious spunk, a big heart and she will do absolutely anything to protect her family. Plus there's a little bit of a love story going on there which adds a bit of excitement!

Mosey is an interesting character. She's a very sweet, somewhat of a dorky teenager who is kind of awesome. At the same time, she's incredibly stubborn, can be ridiculously stupid, and makes some really bad decisions, however it really adds to her character. It makes her a real believable teenager. She's not the type of teenager who is angry at the world and running around getting into trouble. She keeps secrets and she can be rude to her mother and grandmother but despite what Big thinks, she's actually a good kid.

Liza is one I wasn't so wild about. It's hard to really get into Liza's head because ... well... she can't even get inside her head. However, the memories she dredges up are important pieces of the story. It helps put together the puzzle of the body in the garden, and helps explain the family's relationship with one of the richest and rudest family's in town.  The way Liza acted before she had her stroke doesn't make me like her too much, but without her pre-stroke actions, none of the events of the book would have happened.

All the characters pull the novel together really nicely and it's interesting to know the perspective of all three of them throughout the story. I felt like I got really invested in all three of the characters lives. I feared for them, I worried about what would happen to them, and got angry at them when they made the wrong decisions. I love books that make you feel so strongly about the characters.

I was really impressed by this book. It's the type of story that hooks you in and doesn't let you go, even after you've read the last page.
I give A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty 5 stars and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good page turner!


  1. Ooh, I've had this one on my bookshelf for months and still haven't gotten around to it (I bought it for the pretty cover, too!). Now, I HAVE to read it asap! Thanks!

  2. Your description of the book makes me think of 'The Joy Luck Club' (or even the Ya-Ya Sisterhood books), the way the different generations of women tie together. I like stories that explore how the previous generation affects the next.