Title: Such A Pretty Face
Author: Cathy Lamb
Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (August 1, 2010)
ISBN 10: 0758229550
Pages: 352 pages
Format: Paperback – borrowed from the library
About the Book: 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. (from Amazon.com – About the Book)
Setting: Ashville & Portland Oregon - 2005
About the Author: (from Amazon.com –Author Page)
Cathy Lamb was born in Newport Beach, California. As a child, she mastered the art of skateboarding, catching butterflies in bottles, and riding her bike with no hands. When she was 10, her parents moved her, two sisters, a brother, and two poorly behaved dogs to Oregon before she could fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a surfer bum.
She then embarked on her notable academic career where she earned good grades now and then, spent a great deal of time daydreaming, ran wild with a number of friends, and landed on the newspaper staff in high school. When she saw her byline above an article about people making out in the hallways of the high school, she knew she had found her true calling.
After two years of partying at the University of Oregon, she settled down for the next three years and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, and became a fourth grade teacher. It was difficult for her to become proper and conservative but she threw out her red cowboy boots and persevered. She had no choice. She had to eat, and health insurance is expensive.
She met her husband on a blind date. A mutual friend who was an undercover vice cop busting drug dealers set them up. It was love at third sight.
Teaching children about the Oregon Trail and multiplication facts amused her until she became so gigantically pregnant with twins she looked like a small cow and could barely walk. With a three year old at home, she decided it was time to make a graceful exit and waddle on out. She left school one day and never went back. She likes to think her students missed her.
When Cathy was no longer smothered in diapers and pacifiers, she took a turn onto the hazardous road of freelance writing and wrote about 200 articles on homes, home décor, people and fashion for a local newspaper. As she is not fashionable and can hardly stand to shop, it was an eye opener for her to find that some women actually do obsess about what to wear. She also learned it would probably be more relaxing to slam a hammer against one's forehead than engage in a large and costly home remodeling project.
Cathy suffers from, "I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease" which prevents her from getting much work done unless she has a threatening deadline. She likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don't start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up 'til 2:00 in the morning with them. That is her excuse for being cranky.
My Review: I read Such A Pretty Face for my book group, Wine, Women and Words. My group had previously read Henry’s Sisters by Cathy Lamb and really enjoyed it so we were excited to read, Such a Pretty Face. I found myself really connecting and caring about many of the characters, especially, Stevie Barrett. She was a great character, unsure of herself and slowing gaining confidence. You could not help rooting for her to have a better life and come to terms with her own personal demons and insecurities. Stevie was fun to watch develop and blossom throughout the story. Such a Pretty Face shows what family secrets can do to a family and how they can keep you prisoner. While Stevie was my favorite character in Such A Pretty Face, all the characters were very well developed. Many of the characters were quirky in nature, but were dealing with their own issues, and I likes most of them! I did not have must sympathy for Stevie’s Uncle, Herbert. He is a character you love to hate!
Stevie and her two cousins Lance and Polly were great characters and their relationship was great. I found myself sneaking to read a few more pages of Such A Pretty Face, I thought about the three cousins when I wasn’t reading the book and wanted to get back to see what they were up to. You could not help but have sympathy for Stevie’s mother, Helen who suffered from Schizophrenia. She was quirky in a different, sadder manner. Each character was overcoming their own demons. It was great to see them gain the confidence and strength to address their individual issues and become stronger people through out the story.
The story would not be complete without Zena, the wonderfully inappropriate friend of Stevie’s that will make you laugh out loud with the things she says . She is great! Such A Pretty Face addresses themes of love, family, acceptance and overcoming the pain and reality of family secrets. Such A Pretty Face is told in the voice of Stevie with the use of flashbacks to her childhood and present day.
My Rating: - 4/5 stars – really liked it – I found the characters exceptionally likeable and cared a lot about them. I continued to read wanting to know what would happen my new friends. Powerful read addressing many issues. Worth the read and I actually enjoyed Such a Pretty Face more than Henry’s Sisters also by Cathy Lamb.
My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
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