I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu
Also by this author: Life by Committee
Published by Harper Collins on May 12th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Love & Romance, Family, General, Girls & Women
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Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, Making Pretty is a raw, romantic coming-of-age about the complexities of family, the boundaries of love, and the realities of growing up in a culture that prizes beauty above nearly anything else.
Montana and her older sister Arizona have always been a team, sticking together through their plastic surgeon dad's string of divorces—and his not-so-subtle belief that "surgical assists" can be an asset to any woman. But when Arizona comes home from college with a boob job, the rift between the sisters feels insurmountable.
As summer in New York City heats up and Montana and Arizona grow apart, Montana befriends wild, bold, 23-year-old Karissa, who encourages her to live in Technicolor and chase new experiences—like a cute boy in the park. Bernardo becomes a beautiful distraction, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, she understands how you can become both lost and found in somebody else. But when that love becomes everything, where does it leave the rest of her imperfect life?
After finishing Making Pretty, I had to ask myself how have I seriously not read everything ever written by Corey Ann Haydu? I was very taken with Life By Committee and yet, I never went on to grab OCD Love Story. At least now I know enough to fix my mistake and to hurry up and read the rest of Haydu’s backlist. OH MY GOODNESS YOU GUYS! Okay, so I really enjoyed Making Pretty because it gave me all kinds of anxiety. Hear me out — I love it when I am so invested in a book that I actually feel things intensely, even not so positive things like anxiety and angst on behalf of the characters.
Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu is narrated by this girl named Montana. It’s set in New York City during the summer. Montana has an older sister, Arizona, who went away for college and is back for the summer. Before, the two were super close, but then Arizona comes back with a boob job and it has Montana questioning things. Meanwhile, Montana has made good friends with this girl, Karissa, who is 23 and was in her acting class and makes Montana feel cool and special and older. AND! There’s this boy too, Bernado, who comes to the park and whom Montana has engaged in some light flirting with.
In addition, there’s some MORE family dysfunction, as the girls have this dad who is a plastic surgeon who cannot stop seeing flaws in everyone and everything and goes through wives faster than King Henry VIII. Suffice to say, Making Pretty is about the beauty myth a little bit, but also about dysfunctional families, summer in the city and falling in love for the first time OH AND BAD CHOICES TOO. It’s about a lot of things and because my brain seems to be able to hold different things, I am completely okay with this.
Well, as much of a mess as Montana is with her unfortunate hair choices (she dyes it pink without bleaching first), I couldn’t help but be drawn into her story. Normally, she’s not the sort of character that I relate to super well. She’s not quite a strong character. She doesn’t communicate very well. She’s impulsive. Actually — come to think of it, she is a realistic teenage character. Still, I know what I relate to, and typically Montana is not it. Yet, her story of looking for a mother figure hooked me. Her not so perfect choices had me totally drawn into Making Pretty in an “OH NO SHE DIDN’T YES SHE DID” kind of way. I also loved that she was vulnerable and certainly lacking in self esteem. It’s not easy having your physical flaws pointed out to you. And yo, you’ll read this and agree that what her dad does is jacked up.
So, being honest and real with you – the romance between Bernardo and Montana was a bit much for me. I mean, they are just into each other so quickly and the feelings are so fierce. And of course, there’s some bad choices there as well. However, I loved the bits with Bernardo’s family who are actually quite normal compared to Montana’s. Yet, I realize that sometimes with youths, they have intense feelings that are fast and well, I get the romance part of this book. I just was not “shipping” or feeling it. Still — Bernardo is a great guy for Montana, just I was more into the aspects of her life that were not so great.
Making Pretty to me was characterized by Montana’s friendship with Karissa. So, Karissa has these skinny definitely doing cocaine type friends. She dresses in an eyecatching manner. She’s the sort of person that people stop and stare at. So, when Montana is graced with her friendship she has all kinds of pride over it. However, Karissa isn’t quite stable. She will randomly bust out the story of how her entire family died in a car accident. She is 23 and wants to hang out with a 17 year old, instead of her friends who can legally drink and do not seem to have Montana’s hang ups. Karissa, to me, came across as kind of a manic pixie dream girl, but not for Montana. Trust, there is a part where you will be like, GIRL NO. NO NO NO. STOP. And of course, it will happen because the book is already written and it’s not like you can magically change the words and how it plays out. Just know, the story is very intense and hard to look away from.
Props to Haydu for another contemporary book that had me gripped from beginning to end. ALSO! For making me like Making Pretty even though I was just not that into the romance. That’s sort of a super feat. AND yes, I definitely felt nervous and anxious for Montana, but ultimately, I loved how this book plays out. Definitely recommended for the character development and growth.
Other reviews of Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu:
Book.Blog.Bake – “There’s a lot of set-up and potential with not much payoff.”
Rather Be Reading – “explores the complexity of sister relationships”
Hello, Chelly – “an extremely compelling read”
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