Another from the ARC file! I actually had the privilege of briefly meeting Karin Slaughter at BEA during a booth signing. (It was actually a bit awkward because she was signing with two other authors who I had never heard of, and I couldn’t just say “Sorry, I only want her book,” so I ended up with a couple signed books I probably won’t actually read. Anyway…) She was signing copies of Blindsighted, the first in the popular Grant County series. I haven’t read that one yet, but based on my enjoyment of Pretty Girls (out tomorrow from William Morrow!), which I got after BEA from a William Morrow rep I met, I think Ms. Slaughter might be a new addition to my auto-buy list!
When Julia Scott disappeared at the age of 19, the Scott family was torn apart. Her father, determined to find her abductor, documented his personal research in a series of journals before dying—of grief, many said. Her sisters, Claire and Lydia, grew up to lead very different lives: Claire as the trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire, and Lydia as the ex-addict single mother of a teenaged daughter. The wounds of their childhood, which never fully healed, are ripped open again when Claire’s husband is murdered.
Now the two sisters, having barely spoken to each other in over a decade, form an uneasy alliance as they try to understand why Paul was murdered. Along the way, they discover more horror than they could have ever imagined—including clues to what happened to their sister almost 25 years ago.
My first thought after finishing the first chapter of this book was “I have to stop reading books where husbands die.” Maybe it’s because I’m still somewhat recently married (less than a year and a half), but it’s something that always makes me pause and has the potential to send me into a funk for days. This husband death was particularly tough because the way he’s described—at least initially—reminded me quite a bit of my own husband. Later, though, not so much, for reasons I’ll let you discover on your own.
Even though the plot is about Claire and Lydia discovering the secrets that tore apart their childhood, the real story here is about Claire and Lydia learning to trust one another again. Claire, the baby of the family, was quite young when Julia disappeared; she spent most of her life being fiercely protected, and as a middle-aged woman, she knows almost nothing about being on her own, particularly in a time of such turmoil. Lydia, only a few years younger than Julia and much older than Claire, has been through enough shit in her life to know how to keep her head above water even when it seems like the waves will never stop, and it’s her strength and no-bullshit attitude that really propels Claire along until Claire is able to find her own strength. Frankly, I found that while I didn’t really like Claire, I really did root for her and I was happy when she finally figured her shit out and was able to act like a person instead of a prop.
Pretty Girls is intricately woven and extremely raw, and it doesn’t pull punches—just when I thought, “No, she won’t go there,” Slaughter promptly went there. It’s a gripping read, and certain passages are intense enough that I actually had to put the book down for a breather, something that doesn’t often happen to me. And while I can’t say the ending is happy, exactly, those of you who hate unresolved endings like I do will be happy to know that, at the very least, things are tied up pretty neatly.
Definitely pick this one up on preorder or when it comes out! If you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn or S. J. Watson, I think you’ll definitely like Pretty Girls.by