Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review: Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: Making Pretty
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Release Date: 12 May, 2015
Source: HarperCollins Australia

Montana and her sister, Arizona, are named after the mountainous states their mother left them for. But Montana is a New York City girl through and through, and as the city heats up, she’s stepping into the most intense summer of her life.

With Arizona wrapped up in her college world and their father distracted by yet another divorce, Montana’s been immersing herself in an intoxicating new friendship with a girl from her acting class. Karissa is bold, imperfectly beautiful, and unafraid of being vulnerable. She’s everything Montana would like to become. But the friendship with Karissa is driving a wedge between Montana and her sister, and the more of her own secrets Karissa reveals, the more Montana has to wonder if Karissa’s someone she can really trust.

In the midst of her uncertainty, Montana finds a heady distraction in Bernardo. He’s serious and spontaneous, and he looks at Montana in the way she wants to be seen. For the first time, Montana 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?
Review by Nara

Corey Ann Haydu is one of those authors that I feel is severely underrated. She's got two books out at the moment which both have only about a couple thousand ratings on Goodreads- despite them both being very honest, very realistic and just plain good. I'm going to say that Making Pretty is probably my least favourite of the three, although I should emphasise that that doesn't mean it was bad: it was really only that, while the characters were amazingly well developed, the plot was a touch too dramatic for my taste.

Haydu has this way of developing the characters that makes them incredibly realistic. They're not always likeable, and the fluctuations in when you empathise with them and when they annoy you and when you just want to give them a big hug correlate well with how you'd react to a person in real life. Montana is incredibly complex, and her relationships with Karissa and Arizona are even more so. When certain secrets are revealed throughout, the way in which Montana reacts to the dilemmas they give rise to are just the right balance of saddening and encouraging.

The romance was perhaps where this book was a bit weak- the development of the romance wasn't quite as fleshed out as I would have liked. I also didn't really like the love interest, but I think that was more so a personal issue- he just didn't have the type of personality I like in people in real life, much less in a book character. However, this wasn't a huge problem, since the romance was mostly a means of escape for Montana, rather than it being the main focus of the plot.

I feel like where it ended was very abrupt- I could feel an ending coming up as I was reading, but was completely taken aback by how much unlike an ending the last few lines were. I turned the page and saw "Acknowledgements" and couldn't believe that was how the book ended. I can definitely understand why Haydu chose to do this though: it made the book seem like a brief chapter in the ongoing story of the life of Montana, and rather than have that definitive close, it felt as if the characters are still "alive" somewhere out there, continuing with their interesting lives.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 2/5