Pretty Is

Maggie Mitchell. Holt, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-1-62779-148-9
Mitchell's debut novel is both a skewering of America's JonBenet Ramsey—style fixation with little girls in peril and a fascinating glimpse at the intensity of female friendship. In the mid 1990s Carly May Smith and Lois Lonsdale, both 12, were kidnapped and held in a remote enclave of the Adirondacks for two long, claustrophobic months. Precocious Carly was a preteen pageant circuit darling, desperate to escape the dreariness of Nebraska farm life. Quiet and intelligent Lois grew up in her parents' Connecticut B&B and devoted herself to spelling bees. All they had in common were public profiles: their abductor had used newspaper clippings about them to devise his kidnapping. Told in flashbacks from alternating points of view, the work is most interesting when Mitchell explores the girls' desires and neuroses. Under coincidental circumstances (Lois writes a novel about the experience, and Carly acts in the film adaptation), the women are reunited as adults and must revisit the truth about what really happened in that cabin in the woods. Psychologically rich, with haunting detail, Mitchell's work is a disturbing, insightful look at our deep fears. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/11/2015
Release date: 07/07/2015
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-62779-149-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-250-09362-2
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