Title: Pretty Baby
Author: Mary Kubica
Published: July 2015
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Adult.
Average Goodreads rating: 3.75
A chance encounter
She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…
An act of kindness
Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.
A tangled web of lies
As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures.
My Rating and General Opinion
Psychological rollercoaster that keeps you as gripped as uncomfortable at times, one that isn’t easy to stop reading. This has turned out to be quite a ride indeed… But I think a more appropriate title would have been “Precious Baby” (all pun intended!)
The writing made this book a worthwhile read. Unlike with Kubica’s first novel, A Good Girl, I found this writing to be more experienced and descriptive in a subtle not boring way. It started out easily enough and it kept building up right until the whole thing erupted in the big chaos. I think that the way Kubica wrote and built this characters was a marvellous one. It is true that I have no knowledge about the matter treated in this book but I could see the people portrayed in it here as existing human beings.
If I had to point something about it is that I found myself being confused at times, about this book’s timeline. Days seemed to prolong and although apparently everything took place in a matter of days, that wasn’t what I was absorbing from the pages, not only because there was a lot of content but also because apparently either some days went missing or simple they only existed in my mind…
It’s really hard to ramble without spoiling anything, in some other type of novels it is easier but with this kind it’s just plain hard, because the story is mainly an evolution of our protagonists psychic.
The plot was interesting and creeping enough too. In fact I didn’t exactly know what to expect but I was happy with the final result as things turned out to be as I had envisioned in my head. The weak part was the ending it was too abrupt and I would have preferred for it to be expanded and explained better.
We follow Heidi’s and Chris’s life, a Chicago bound family with a teen daughter, Zoe, who are questioning their lives (each from its point of view). Neither of them is perfect as they start to analyze how things have turned out as time has passed but they still love each other, apart for some serious jealousy and power drama flying around…
Heidi is very charitable woman so one day she decides to bring home a homeless teen with a baby on her hands, which only cause more trouble on the home front. [apparently it’s a crime to give hospice to a homeless/runaway, I had no idea about this] There things start to slowly unravel. Heidi grows everyday more attached to Willow and Ruby (or so you are guided to think) and less attached to her own daughter and husband.
Through the multiple POV way this book is written you follow Heidi’s adventure in this new double mom in disguise, Chris trying to cope with everything and bringe¡ing her wife back to her senses, and Willow as we discover what brough her to the situation Heidi found her in.
Willow’s story is a painful and heartbroken one, and given her lack of development I can understand why she chose to do the things she chose to, still this day I feel sympathy for her.
This story surprised me. Things started with our characters in one way and ended in a complete opposite way! But I am glad the progressions to that ending was organic, where things weren’t rushed,which only improved the reading experience. Still it wasn’t perfect because I was left with many unanswered questions. [Continue reading the spoiler section of this review]
The characters were compelling enough that I enjoyed reading through our three main protagonists. But at some point I was really uncomfortable reading about certain person, it was just too surreal and you could clearly see through her disturbed eyes.
First we have Heidi, a very charitable working mother who although loves her family has gone through some hard stuff she hasn’t completely get over of. She works helping people, that’s her main quality and the reason for the development of this book’s plot.
Then we’ve got Chris, Heidi husband. I sure liked him from the beginning but couldn’t overlook the amount of jealousy he had over his wife and everything around him.
Next there’s Willow and baby Ruby, the pair that turns this family core apart from their roots. We meet Willow as a homeless teenage with nothing to her but a baby, she doesn’t speak much only with her sad eyes, from which you can see I really sad story but not much detail. He back story is juicy but most of all sad, we get to meet Matthew in there too, a psychologically stronger type of character that helps her but that doesn’t end well.
Lastly we find Zoe, Heidi’s and Chris’s daughter, which serves as a focal point of distress, because it is from her eyes that we see the change starting, and Graham the neighbour which I am still doubtful about the part he played in this story, none. There are more mention to certain characters but I don’t care about them enough to mention, especially those that take part in Willow’s present storyline, all means to an end.
– READ ONLY IF YOU HAVE READ THE BOOK –
Beware, some spoilery bits and pieces:
– How is it possible that at the beginning Heidi was portrayed as this fun, special and most of all normal kind of girl when in fact all of that shit was going on in the inside???
– The we have the juiciest character of them all, the motherload, Heidi! Her development was such a surprise, at least from the first impression she gave. There were some slight hints throughout the book, the those hints became clearer and then this happened…
Heidi: “Mine. All mine.”
It’s funny because just some chapters before that happened, I remember having a vision of Heidi depicted as Gollum, from The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings… well you already see how things turned out, that’s why I say at the beginning a title change would have been more appropriate.
– Did you at some point have any doubt’s about Willow’s morality?? At the beginning of the story I put more attention on Heidi and Chris so no, but when the time comes where in some minds some doubts could appear in my mind just weren’t any. Maybe because for the first time I had a clear picture of what Willow looked like and who she was, but I just couldn’t see her committing all of those atrocities… She didn’t strike me as someone who can have a psychotic break, but look how things turned out… it is sure as hell that you don’t know where and how you are going to end up…
– What was all of that final rumbling about Ambien?? I even thought that maybe Zoe was dead at one point! It was a nonsensical small bit of info that was brought up at the ned of the book and I just don’t understand why, because it was repeated more than once, to confuse the reader and made him think the worst possible things?? Sorry, still don’t get it.
– Further questions left unsolved:
What happens to Matthew?? Is he ever found? Do they eventually find each other??
What happens to Heidi?? She gets instituted permanently?
How do Chris and Zoe cope?? Does she end up rebelling too??
What, Why, How?¿?
Would I recommend this one?? Yes. It is certainly disturbing and uncomfortable at times but I would recommend it even if it’s not perfect and there are things left unresolved.