Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Such A Pretty Face
In this warm, funny, thoroughly candid novel, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb introduces an unforgettable heroine who's half the woman she used to be, and about to find herself for the first time-Two years and 170 pounds ago, Stevie Barrett was wheeled into an operating room for surgery that most likely saved her life. Since that day, a new Stevie has emerged, one who walks without wheezing, plants a garden for self-therapy, and builds and paints fantastical wooden chairs. At thirty-five, Stevie is the one thing she never thought she'd be: thin. But for everything that's changed, some things remain the same. Stevie's shyness refuses to melt away. She still can't look her neighbors' gorgeous great-nephew in the eye. The Portland law office where she works remains utterly dysfunctional, as does her family-the aunt, uncle, and cousins who took her in when she was a child. To top it off, her once supportive best friend clearly resents her weight loss. By far the biggest challenge in Stevie's new life lies in figuring out how to define her new self. Collaborating with her cousins to plan her aunt and uncle's problematic fortieth anniversary party, Stevie starts to find some surprising answers-about who she is, who she wants to be, and how the old Stevie evolved in the first place. And with each revelation, she realizes the most important part of her transformation may not be what she's lost, but the courage and confidence she's gathering, day by day. As achingly honest as it is witty, Such A Pretty Face is a richly insightful novel of one woman's search for love, family, and acceptance, of the pain we all carry-and the wonders that can happen when we let it go at last.
OMG, this book made me cry. Stevie's journey, from her traumatic childhood to the life she's rebuilding as the book progresses, is amazing. Her childhood is cut short by the deaths of her schizophrenic mother, baby sister, and beloved grandparents. She's taken in by her aunt and her control-freak husband, Herbert. Her cousins Polly & Lance try to help her feel normal, but they wind up battling their own issues. As her life spirals out of control, Stevie eats for comfort and eventually reaches 350 lbs. (Polly becomes an anorexic and Lance is just zany & neurotic) After a heart attack at 32, she undergoes gastric bypass surgery and starts her life over again. At half her former weight, she's amazed at how different that life is.
In her quest for a new beginning, Stevie is forced to confront the demons of her past. She also finds a new love, loses an old friend who turns out not to be such a good one, helps a family cope with the loss of a child, joins a roller derby term (!!!), and watches as her family turns on the man who has made them all miserable for so many years in a quest to earn their own happy endings too. I was rooting for Stevie and all of her friends/family and cheered as those who needed it got their comeuppance.